Shireen Ghorbani: Trump remains our greatest national security threat

Utah’s Stewart and Owens voted to overturn the will of the people.

(Courtesy of FOX 13) Shireen Ghorbani, left, and incumbent Republican Rep. Chris Stewart debate at Dixie State University on Monday, Sept. 17, 2018.

In September of 2018, I stood on the Utah Debate Commission stage as the Democratic candidate for Congress in Utah’s 2nd District and told Utahns and Rep. Chris Stewart that I believed Donald Trump was the greatest threat to our national security. Stewart immediately jumped to Trump’s defense in an attempt to belittle my response. It turns out, I was right.
This last week, we watched an angry mob breach the United States Capitol and call for the lynching of Vice President Mike Pence and taking members of Congress hostage. Pipe bombs were placed near the Republican National Committee and the Democratic National Committee headquarters. A Capitol police officer was killed and another has taken his own life.
The experience of watching the second plane crash into the Twin Towers on 9/11 as I was in college left an indelible mark on my early adulthood and ultimately led me to join the United States Peace Corps to work for a better and stronger world.
Jan. 6th was also a watershed moment for me. Though similarly jarring, the moment we arrived at last week was devastatingly predictable. President Donald Trump’s supporters had planned this attack out in the open, and he repeatedly called for this level of violence at his rallies ahead of the 2016 election and on numerous occasions throughout his presidency.
But Trump did more than call for violence. He intentionally eroded our shared sense of the truth and overtook the Republican party with more lies than one can count, starting with false and racists claims that President Barack Obama was not an American citizen and most recently with weeks of assault on the free and fair election that resulted in him losing by a huge margin.
Many Americans went along with these lies, but few brought me as much personal anguish and irritation as Rep. Chris Stewart. It was hard to stomach his full-throated and undying support of Donald Trump particularly because, in March 2016, Stewart stood on a stage and called Trump “our Mussolini.”
He knew better when he flipped and became a full Trump supporter. He knew Trump was dangerous to this country, but perhaps power, or some other seductive force, made him change his mind and declare he was only kidding about the Mussolini part.

Stewart’s utter change of heart led his actions through Jan. 4, when Stewart went along with what will go down in the history of this nation as one of the most radical lies of all. Stewart joined the likes of Sens. Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley and said he would not vote to certify the election. And then he acted on it. Stewart voted to overturn the results of a free and fair election.
Now, Stewart, Rep. Burgess Owens and other complicit Republicans who willingly went along with the president’s lies and disinformation campaign are calling for unity. But unity must be built on trust. Trust is built on a shared sense of truth and the belief that the other is acting in good faith. We cannot build unity on lies. We must build unity on truth and accountability. But we are a long way from accountability. In Trump’s first comments since the attacks he incited on our Capitol, he remained defiant and referred to his seditious speech as “totally appropriate.”
Nothing about Trump’s behavior in office has been appropriate. We cannot unite with our representative’s words or actions when, after the attack on our Capitol and without any evidence, he voted to deny the certification of the will of the voters in Pennsylvania. Without consequences, we create a permission structure for this behavior to happen again.
I’m grateful for the words of Sen. Mitt Romney as he called for us to tell the truth. The truth is that the 2nd District of Utah deserves a representative who is faithful to our country and to our Constitution, and not to the cult of personality around one man.
This week, more democracy-minded House members have introduced a resolution calling for the removal of the Republican representatives who sought to overturn the election results. If you are as deeply distraught about the actions of Stewart and Owens as I am, join me in calling the offices of Rep. John Curtis and Rep. Moore, thank them for standing on the side of our Constitution, and ask them to support Rep. Cori Bush’s resolution and to hold these Republican House members accountable.
Actions should have consequences, even in safe Republican districts.

Shireen Ghorbani

Shireen Ghorbani, Salt Lake City, is a former member of the Salt Lake County Council and the 2018 Democratic candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives in Utah’s 2nd District.
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