Viewpoints: Shocking us into soul searching

GRAEF-USA Inc. CEO John Kissinger

Last updated on January 12th, 2021 at 12:05 pm

It was horrible to watch the events of January 6th unfold. Who would have thought that we would see the president of the United States incite a mob to attack our Capitol?

Did anyone think a year ago that members of Congress, including some from Wisconsin, would vote to invalidate the electoral votes from multiple states, which would have disenfranchised millions of voters? Or that, amazingly, these same Wisconsin members would later say that they would have voted to disenfranchise Wisconsin voters if they had the chance?

What this whole sordid affair has pointed out is just how fragile our system of electing a president is. Before this, I think few of us understood that if a simple majority of House and Senate members wanted to change the outcome of a presidential election, they could. They could ignore the votes of millions and reject the duly appointed electors from a state just because they do not like the way that state manages its elections. Now that the path has been laid clear, it is not hard to imagine this happening in the future.

Fortunately, I think that recent events can shock us into soul searching. Conservative or liberal, Democrat or Republican, we can and must set partisanship aside and insist that our elected officials respect the will of the voters. We cannot allow ourselves or our representatives to become inflamed by charges that one party or the other is the enemy of our republic, and therefore unfit to lead.

We will continue to have sharp disagreements, but while we do not have to agree on much else, we should agree that Congress should not be in the business of choosing the president of the United States. While our country is deeply divided, my hope is we can at least agree on this.

We live in a republic, where our elected leaders speak for us, and that means that sometimes we give them awesome power. We must let them know where the boundaries are. At the end of the day, our representatives reflect our values, and those values must continue to respect the will of the people and the sanctity of their votes.

John Kissinger is the president and CEO of Milwaukee-based GRAEF-USA Inc.

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