A Voice in the Wilderness

Marc Racicot was a conservative Republican two-term governor of Montana. He served as chairman of the Republican National Committee.

Dear Chairwoman McDaniel,

It is a sad day, indeed.

Having held the same position that you presently occupy two decades ago, I would never have imagined that the day would come when the chair of the Republican National Committee and its members would rebuke and desert two GOP members of the United States House of Representatives, who, consistent with the Constitution, their oath of office and their conscience, have been performing their assigned Congressional duties with honor and integrity pursuant to the lawful passage of a House Resolution.

The resolution in question, of course, concerns the Select Committee investigating the events of Jan. 6, 2021. I have carefully reviewed that document, House Resolution 509 (hereafter HR 509), as well as the Republican National Committee’s “Resolution To Formally Censure Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger” (hereafter RNC Resolution). In order to get the facts straight, let me summarize the two resolutions as I understand them.
HR 509, after establishing the Select Committee, enunciates the purposes of the Committee, namely “to investigate and report the facts, circumstances and causes,” of the “attack on the Capitol.” In addition, HR 509 calls for a review of intelligence and law enforcement preparations and responses in order to identify corrective measures to prevent future acts of violence, improve the security posture of the Capitol and strengthen the security and resilience of democratic institutions against violence.

The RNC Resolution provides that “Winning back the majority in Congress…in 2022 must be the primary goal.” That achieving that goal “must not be sabotaged by Representatives Cheney and Kinzinger who have demonstrated…that they support Democrat efforts to destroy President Trump” and, therefore they must be denounced for deliberately jeopardizing victory in November, 2022 even though, it is alleged in the Resolution, the Democrat Party’s prospects are “bleak.” And finally, before articulating the severe and formal censure, the RNC Resolution asserts that Representatives Cheney and Kinzinger “are participating in a…persecution of ordinary citizens engaged in legitimate political discourse.”

I must confess, it is difficult to even know where to begin.
First of all, I would like you to know that confronting you and the Committee with the thoughts and observations contained herein is not something, for me, easily done. Knowing my own imperfections and mistakes, I initially contemplated refraining from preparing and dispatching this missive and critique. At the same time, my heart tells me that, as a citizen, a former elected state official and former Chair of the Republican National Committee, I must try to do what I can to take care of and protect our democracy and way of life.

Based on my decades of engagement in Republican politics, my intuition tells me that you and the other members of the RNC will come to regret, if you don’t already, the passage of the RNC Resolution. It appears possible, and maybe even probable, that the RNC Resolution, with its incendiary language and histrionics, has advanced the very threat that you accuse Representatives Cheney and Kinzinger of creating, namely the diminution of the chances for Republican electoral success in 2022.

I believe you, and the members of the Committee, have substantially underestimated the Great Middle of America and what’s happening with all of those good and decent people from sea to shining sea. Made up of Democrats, Republicans and independents, the Great Middle is in the process of organizing itself with a higher goal, quietly but surely, not by express agreement or party affiliation, but by standards of decency, integrity, honor and faithfulness to the best interests of the Republic.

Many intensely loyal Republicans, more polite and less dangerous than those who breached the Capitol, are, in larger and larger numbers, quietly but persistently looking for alternatives in the form of political movements and candidates of conscience, character, conviction and courage. They’re not suggesting, hopelessly, a return to simpler times. They’re calling, hopefully, for a return to simple, timeless and enduring values: presuming the best of each other, listening in good faith before acting or responding, exuding generosity and grace, self-correcting our own mistakes and being ambitious to accomplish something, not to be somebody.

In the Republican National Committee’s search for power for its own sake and its obsession with winning at any cost, you have sacrificed, by your proclamation and its revelation of the presently existing soul of the party, the allegiance of a great many, and a growing number, of your most ardent and long-time supporters. Regrettably, it appears, “you have hitched your wagon to the wrong star.”

But more important than ephemeral political calculations, in the political life of the United States there is no greater or higher loyalty as a citizen or an officeholder than a shared loyalty to the nation and the Constitution. Every citizen agrees to that premise as a condition of the social contract between the people and their government.

Hence, loyalty to a political party or candidate never trumps allegiance to the Republic.

The Oath of Office taken by every member of the United States Senate and House of Representatives, as well as the president, requires those office holders to “solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic [and] that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same.” The Oath concludes with a solemn promise that “I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”

Bearing true faith means maintaining fidelity to the preservation of the union, fidelity to our fellow citizens, fidelity to a shared set of values and fidelity to the law and the Constitution. That transcendent fidelity or faithfulness to the Constitution is demonstrated by our continuing and unequivocal loyalty, first and above all else, to the United States of America, without interruption, without condition, without exception, without avoidance, without arrogance, without deceit, without connivance and without obfuscation.

The faithfulness referred to in the Oath of Office presumes not just faithfulness to the actual words of the Constitution, but faithfulness to its spirit as well. A spirit recognized and requited by humility, respect for others and the rights of others, honor, decency, integrity and self-discipline. Fidelity is the exact opposite of seeking power for its own sake or craving victory at any cost, each of which history has revealed time and time again to be a fool’s errand.

All of the above is to say that I have discovered no facts nor evidence, anywhere, of the “sabotage” or “persecution” or efforts to “destroy” the former president that serve as the basis for the accusations cited in the RNC Resolution and lodged against Representatives Cheney and Kinzinger. Quite the opposite, the evidence reveals two Republican members of the House of Representatives honorably performing their investigative duties and searching for the truth as members of a duly constituted investigative committee. In other words, they’re doing their job with fidelity and loyalty to the Constitution.

Parenthetically, it appears that the House Republican leadership not only made the wrong decision by refusing to participate in the legitimate business of the Select Committee, they made a serious tactical error as well. Now, having forfeited their opportunity to provide input into the Select Committee’s work and deliberations, they are left with only one available option, namely, to close their eyes to the truth and curse the darkness.

How is it that an official inquiry undertaken to pursue and determine the truth can be so threatening? How is it that faithfulness to one’s country and fellow citizens can be so precipitously and eagerly sacrificed in exchange for political victory, or the pursuit of power, or both? How is it that the responsibility to assess accountability, if the facts establish it, can be so easily dismissed? There has been no honest and reasonable answer to any of those questions.

Of course, the elephant in the room is the 2020 presidential election and the efforts of the unsuccessful candidate to overturn the results.

Although it is ever so neat and tidy to blame the defeat of the former president on the existence of decisive and widespread fraud, there is not even a scintilla of evidence, anywhere, to support such piffle. The former president didn’t experience defeat in 2020 because of fraud. The truth is quite the opposite. The defeat of the former president is explained by the fact that legions of responsible citizens, part of that Great Middle of America, voted the way they did because they embraced the very fidelity to their country and its Constitution that the RNC claims to embrace in its Party Platform.

So what can be done now? My suggestion and request is that you lead the Committee through the process of withdrawing and dismissing the RNC Resolution rebuking and deserting Representatives Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger. I urge the pursuit of this remedy with the understanding that we’re human, that politics is a competitive enterprise and that sometimes we make mistakes. But I also believe in such a situation the final measure of our character is whether we have the insight and courage to humbly and honestly correct them.

Respectfully submitted,

Marc Racicot