Pennsylvania Republicans in the state House and Congress have often acted disgracefully in the last month, ranging from promoting lies about the integrity of November’s election to refusing to seat a Democratic lawmaker elected to state office. Not to mention, all but one in Congress attempting to disenfranchise every voter in the state by objecting to Congress’ certification of the electoral votes.
That’s why the failure of Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick — the one Republican outlier who voted to certify those votes — to support the impeachment of President Donald Trump on the charge of “incitement of insurrection” is disappointing and infuriating.
Fitzpatrick has carefully cultivated a political brand centered around bipartisanship. In the last Congress, according to FiveThirtyEight, he broke with Trump in 62% of his votes.
After the assault on the U.S. Capitol, Fitzpatrick tweeted: “What happened today was nothing short of a coup attempt. The President of the United States has been lying to his supporters with false information and false expectations. He lit the flame of incitement and owns responsibility for this.”
Fitzpatrick also introduced a resolution to censure Trump for “trying to unlawfully overturn the 2020 Presidential election and violating his oath of office.”
And yet, when it was time to vote for an article of impeachment, Fitzpatrick voted no. His rationale: that it will “almost certainly” result in an acquittal in the Senate, and the result would be too divisive.
The impeachment vote did not call for a prediction of its ultimate outcome. It called for standing up for the truth and demanding accountability for a president who incited a violent and deadly insurrection. If all of Congress had come together to hold Trump accountable, there would have been nothing divisive about it. As it was, 10 House Republicans joined Democrats in the vote for impeachment. Fitzpatrick should have been one of them.
This was a career-defining moment for our elected leaders, an opportunity to be clear about what they stand for and what they want our country and our government to stand for — truth and accountability, not mob-driven myths that spiral into hysteria and violence. By voting against impeachment, Fitzpatrick has shown that he was undeserving of the faith we placed in him with our endorsement in the 2020 election.
He is not the first candidate we have endorsed who has disappointed. Some candidates we’ve endorsed over the years have failed to deliver on their promises — or, even worse, have broken the law and landed in jail. Elections, and thus endorsements, are far from perfect: Often, a less-than-stellar candidate is running against someone even less stellar. Voters must make choices. We endorse to help inform those choices. So while we can’t undo our recent endorsement of Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, we are deeply disappointed that instead of showing political courage, he chose party over principle and country.
Many Republicans disappointed — especially those from Pennsylvania who continue to encourage the lies that the election was not legitimate. But we had higher expectations for Fitzpatrick, and suspect many of his 1st Congressional District constituents did, too.