Salt Lake doesn’t deserve dishonor of being associated with Bigger Lie, Editorial Board writes

If Republicans do not renounce the censure, we should retract our bid to host 2024 Republican National Convention

(Rick Bowmer | AP) Ronna McDaniel, the GOP chairwoman, speaks during the Republican National Committee winter meeting Friday, Feb. 4, 2022, in Salt Lake City. Republican Party officials voted to punish GOP Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger for their roles on the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection and advanced a rule change that would prohibit candidates from participating in debates organized by the Commission on Presidential Debates.

The good people of Salt Lake City — a number that includes many good and public-spirited Republicans — do not deserve to be associated with the disgusting resolution adopted by the Republican National Committee when it met in our city last week.

In censuring Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, two Republican members of the House of Representatives who really seem to care about getting to the bottom of what happened at the U.S. Capitol on Jan 6, 2021, the RNC resolution referred to that violent uprising as “ordinary citizens engaged in legitimate political discourse.”

This disgraceful sentiment does not represent the Republican Party so many Utahns have joined over the years and that is the dominant political organization in our state. If local Republicans do not stand up against this horrid sentiment, chances are the party will soon fracture, at the state and national levels, leaving us all without the strong and principled conservative party we need.

Silence can only be seen as complicity with the element within a once-great American political party that now promotes violence and lies as legitimate means to power. Utah Republicans should follow the lead of Sen. Mitt Romney in condemning the RNC resolution.

“Shame falls on a party that would censure persons of conscience, who seek truth in the face of vitriol,” Romney said on Twitter. “Honor attaches to Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger for seeking truth even when doing so comes at great personal cost.”

If the official Republican position on this does not change, and quickly, Salt Lake City should retract its bid to host the 2024 Republican National Convention. It should not again risk becoming associated with a proto-fascist party that has turned its back on its own honorable heritage, leaders such as Abraham Lincoln, Dwight Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan, and all that is good about the American political system.

In their description of the Jan. 6 uprising, RNC members went beyond Donald Trump’s Big Lie to promote what should now be called the Bigger Lie.

Trump says he won the 2020 presidential election, which he clearly did not. His attempt to promote that falsehood and overturn the constitutional transfer of power resulted in a clear attempt to overthrow the government of the United States by violent means when a disorganized but angry rabble attacked the Capitol and disrupted the lawful business of Congress.

There was nothing “ordinary” or “legitimate” about it.

The undermanned U.S. Capitol Police did heroic duty, defending members of Congress and Vice President Mike Pence from a mob with murder in its eyes and a noose out on the lawn. Officers were beaten with fire extinguishers and flag poles, crushed underfoot and in doors, and tossed aside. One officer died of a stroke and four others took their own lives within months. Some 100 officers were injured. One of the protesters was killed by police when she tried to crash through the barricaded doors of the House Chamber.

Utah Reps. Chris Stewart and John Curtis, while not doing much to defend Cheney and Kinzinger, have rejected the “legitimate political discourse” label, calling the invasion of the Capitol a crime to be prosecuted.

If Republicans including Gov. Spencer Cox, Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson, Sen. Mike Lee, Reps. Burgess Owens, and Blake Moore, Utah House Speaker Brad Wilson and Utah Senate President Stuart Adams do not forcefully and specifically renounce the RNC resolution they will have betrayed the people they claim to represent in favor of a party that does not deserve their loyalty.

There are glimmers of hope.

Some other Republicans have joined Romney in his condemnation of the RNC resolution. They include Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, as well as Becky Edwards, a former Utah state senator now running in the Republican primary to oust Lee, and Owens challenger Jake Hunsaker.

Although it took nearly 13 months for him to come clean, even Pence now says Trump had no legitimate claim on the election and no grounds to call on his vice president to overturn the lawful results.

Note, also, that Trump no longer claims to be the genuine winner of the 2020 election. He openly argues that Pence should have “overturned the election” and wrongly kept Trump in power. The former president has openly abandoned his claim that the election was stolen, and only regrets that his side didn’t do a better job of stealing it for him.

It is unfortunate that — in history and in Google searches — the name of Salt Lake City is now wrongly associated with the RNC’s poisonous gathering.

It might help if, instead of welcoming the Trumpist Republicans, the city were to host a convention of the real Grand Old Party, a truly conservative movement that believes in the Constitution and the rule of law.

We know a guy who once organized a gathering of the world’s greatest athletes here. He might be pressed into service again.