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January 06, 2021

As Congress Considers Baseless Objections to 2020 Presidential Election, King Emphasizes Fragility of American Experiment in Self-Government

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) spoke on the floor of the U.S. Senate to oppose baseless efforts by President Trump and his allies in Congress to object to the results of the 2020 Presidential election. In his statement, Senator King emphasized the importance of trust in America’s fragile democracy, highlighted our system of self-government’s unique place in a world history defined by monarchs, despots, and dictators, and encouraged his colleagues to speak honestly with their supporters, even if the message will not be well-received. He closed his speech by quoting President Abraham Lincoln, urging his Senate colleagues to reject these unsubstantiated allegations of voter fraud and protect faith in our electoral system. Shortly after Senator King’s speech, the objection was rejected by a vote of 6 to 93.

“We are a 240-year anomaly in world history. We think that what we have here in this country is the way it's always been,” said Senator King. “It is a very unusual form of government. The normal form of government throughout world history is dictators, kings, czars, pharaohs, warlords, tyrants. And we thought 20 years ago the march of history was toward democracy, but it is in retreat in Hungary and Turkey, goodness knows in Russia. Democracy, as we have practiced it, is fragile. It's fragile, and it rests upon trust. It rests upon trust in facts. It rests upon trust in courts. In public officials, and, yes, in elections. I don't sympathize or justify or in any way support -- that's putting it mildly -- what happened here today, but I understand it. I understand it because I saw those people interviewed today, and they said, ‘we're here because this election has been stolen,’ and the reason they said that is that their leader has been telling them that every day for two months.

“We cannot afford to pull bricks out from the foundation of trust that underlies our entire system. And I agree with Governor Romney that the answer to this problem is to tell people the truth. It is to tell them what happened. It's easy to confront your opponents. It's hard to confront your friends. It's hard to tell your supporters something they don't want to hear. But that's our obligation. That's why the word "leader" is applied to people in jobs like ours. It's not supposed to be easy. It's supposed to be something that we take on as a sacred obligation. And if people believe something that isn't true, it's our obligation to tell them, no, I'm sorry, it isn't. Just as Senator Portman just said, as Mike Lee just said. I'm sorry, we can't do this here. We don't want to do this here. This is a power reserved to the states, not to the Congress. And I agree with the Majority Leader. I think this is one of the most important votes any of us will ever take.

“On December 1, 1862, Abraham Lincoln came to this building. He came to this building in the darkest days of the Civil War. He was trying to awaken the Congress to the crisis that we were facing. And he didn't feel that they were fully and effectively engaged and he ended his speech that day with words that I think have an eerie relevance tonight. Here's what Abraham Lincoln said: ‘Fellow Americans, we cannot escape history. We of this Congress and this Administration will be remembered in spite of ourselves. No personal significance or insignificance can spare one or another of us.’ And here's his final words. ‘The fiery trial through which we pass will light us down in honor or dishonor to the latest generation. The fiery trial through which we pass will light us down in honor or dishonor to the latest generation.’”

Earlier today, Senator King condemned the violent insurrection at the Capitol, and called for all of his colleagues to “speak the clear and honest facts” and no longer enable President Trump’s attempts to undermine faith in America’s elections. Earlier this week, he called efforts by Congressional leaders to spread President Trump’s dangerous disinformation “one of the most serious assaults upon our country’s democratic system in American history”.

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