Editor’s Note: Reps. Chrissy Houlahan, Madeleine Dean, Mary Gay Scanlon and Susan Wild are Democrats from Pennsylvania. The opinions expressed in this commentary are their own. View more opinion on CNN.
At the Constitutional Convention in 1787, hosted in Philadelphia, the birthplace of our nation, our founders outlined a form of government entrusted to the people: a republic, if we can keep it.
Over the past few days, a number of Republican colleagues from our Commonwealth of Pennsylvania – the state where Ben Franklin uttered that dire warning all those years ago – have plotted to subvert our democracy in a desperate attempt to support President Donald Trump’s lies about voter fraud.
Just this weekend, we listened to the outgoing President’s voice in a disturbing phone call, pressuring Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger “to find 11,780 votes” and overturn the election in that state.
We’ve said the word “unprecedented” in 2020 so many times when it comes to the current administration that many of us might be a bit jaded at the mention of the term by this point. It seems like what’s happening now needs a new word. Something to underscore the severity of how seriously President Trump is trying to undermine America’s democracy and the implications it might have for future elections.
Two years ago, we four women from the Philadelphia region raised our hands to run for Congress. Like many of our colleagues, particularly women who ran in 2018, we believed that the election of 2016 required a dramatic course correction.
We ran to protect the American values passed down for generations and which we have tried to instill in our children. We ran to protect a government that acts by, for, and of the people, that is a beacon of freedom and opportunity for the world, and that is based upon fair play and the rule of law, not bullying and lies. We believed and continue to believe that Americans aspire to decency and civility and that the highest calling of elected officials is to help forge a more perfect union, not to debase and divide; to serve our constituents, not to seek personal gain.
Working tirelessly to build coalitions, we became the only four women in Pennsylvania’s congressional delegation and have just been sworn in for our second full term.
This is how democracy works. You run for office. You make your case to your community and earn the support of the voters. If you win, you are sworn into office and have the honor and privilege of serving your constituents.
If you lose, what you don’t do is, in your anger at defeat, attempt to overthrow the will of the people. What you don’t do is pressure elected officials to “find votes” and manufacture a false victory. What you don’t do is aid and abet an outgoing President who has decided the republic he’s been lucky to serve isn’t worth keeping.
Wednesday, January 6, the US House and Senate will gather in a joint session of Congress for the ceremonial counting of Electoral College votes, to confirm Joseph R. Biden as the President-elect. We are honored and excited to participate in this constitutional milepost in the election of our nation’s 46th president, Joe Biden, and our first female vice president, Kamala Harris.
A cohort of Republicans in both the House and Senate intends to try to sabotage this traditional event and spread the President’s lies about electoral misconduct, ignoring the historical significance of a peaceful transition – even though prominent members of their party, such as Sen. Mitt Romney and former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, stand on the side of reason and patriotism and oppose this effort.
It has been two months since President Trump lost both the Electoral College and the popular vote. Rather than acknowledge that loss, he has demanded and lost multiple recounts and audits; has tried, and failed, to undermine the certification of electors or to persuade state legislatures to substitute “alternative” electors for those chosen by the American people; and has lost dozens of increasingly desperate and baseless court challenges.
The people have spoken. The courts have spoken. President Trump lost this election.
Losing isn’t easy. But is it really worth turning on our very country, undermining our democratic values? Is it worth discarding the sacred oath of office we all take to protect the Constitution of this country?
This is the people’s republic. They have spoken. We’ll be keeping it.