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To Defuse Violence, Salka

Must Accept Election Fair

To the Editor:

On Friday, Jan. 8, Assemblyman John Salka engaged in a frank, one-on-one, 15-minute conversation with me about the election results and the insurrection at the Capitol. I sincerely appreciate him devoting so much time to talking with me, as I’m just one of over 100,000 people in his district.

But I was left appalled by his attachment to two self-serving, destructive, false narratives.

It was clear from our conversation that he has no actual evidence that Joe Biden’s electoral victory was fraudulent. He brought up one item (the affidavits of people who claim they saw irregularities). I explained that many of those were from people who had not attended observer training and therefore didn’t understand that what they witnessed was routine procedure.

Mr. Salka did not try to rebut. He did not come back with other evidence. He simply moved to the claim that we couldn’t know what information might eventually come to light.

In other words, he knows of no actual evidence.

The exchange showed the shockingly careless way in which Mr. Salka undermines the legitimacy of our entire system of government.

I don’t agree with Mr. Salka’s politics, and I wish he weren’t my representative in Albany. But he was elected by a clear majority of voters in our district. I have no evidence of fraud in his election, and so I acknowledge not merely that he is my representative, but that he legitimately is my representative. That’s how democracy works.

Similarly, Mr. Salka doesn’t like Mr. Biden’s politics and wishes he weren’t our president-elect. But he was elected by a clear majority of voters in enough states to get a sizeable majority in the Electoral College. Mr. Salka acknowledges that Mr. Biden will be inaugurated on Jan. 20, but despite having no evidence of fraud, Mr. Salka refuses to acknowledge that Mr. Biden is legitimately going to be the country’s next president. That’s not how democracy works.

Mr. Salka’s other hopeless narrative is that Wednesday’s violent attempt to reverse the election might yet turn out to be the work of “Antifa,” or leftists, or some other nefarious group – anyone, so long as it’s not the responsibility of the Trump-supporting mob we all saw on TV. Here as well, Mr. Salka can point to no evidence, other than claims he’s heard. And to maintain his story he has to ignore the mounting evidence that the insurrection was carried out by adherents of groups like Q-Anon and the Proud Boys.

He must be unconvinced by the FBI’s assessment that there was no Antifa involvement in the attempted coup. He has to disregard footage of rioters about to beat a reporter because they think he’s Antifa; the crowd’s anger is not that this supposed Antifa agent is going to make them look bad by inciting them to violent overthrow of constitutional democracy – rather, this crowd doesn’t want to be observed.

Mr. Salka’s two narratives nest together. While he rightly abhors the violence at the Capitol, he seems to understand the anger of the people who feel the election was stolen from Mr. Trump. Once he acknowledges that the election was fair, it follows that the anger of Trump supporters is based in lies, and that anyone who answered Mr. Trump’s call and marched to the Capitol was engaged in an insurrection, whether or not they individually committed any violence. We already hear calls for “unity,” “healing,” and “moving on.”

The president and some of his supporters tried to overthrow our system of government.

We can’t heal from that and unify and move on until that is acknowledged and the perpetrators are brought to trial.


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