Debra Coe

Debra Coe

After every election, there are large numbers of people disappointed with the candidate that won. This is the inherent nature of our democracy. This last presidential election was unique due to claims of massive voter fraud. More than 50 cases went to various courts yet no massive voter fraud was found. These false claims eventually resulted in an act of terror and loss of lives as a mob stormed our Capitol in an unprecedented attack.

Surprisingly, many in that mob claimed to support our Constitution. A mob storming the Capitol to pressure Congress to put in the candidate of their choice against the will of the voters is a clear betrayal of our Constitution. Just the day before, passengers on a flight from Utah to Washington D.C. berated Utah Senator Mitt Romney by chanting “traitor” due to his statement a few days earlier about the Electoral College ballots and his support of our Democratic Republic. Clearly, there is a lack of understanding about what our Constitutional election process is, and how our form of democracy works.

Each of the freedoms we enjoy comes with a corresponding duty. A principal duty is to have a basic understanding of our Constitution and work to uphold it. Utah Senator Mike Lee pointed out in his short speech Wednesday evening, that what the mob wanted Congress to do was unconstitutional and beyond the powers given members of Congress.

Freedom of the press is critical. Journalists are our eyes and ears for what is happening around the country. We have the duty to seek truth when choosing our news sources. This is a more complicated process than many realize. While some people intentionally give misinformation when they do not like the facts, most do not intentionally mislead. But all people have their bias in how they interpret what has happened. We need to be aware of the bias, right- or left-leaning, in all news sources. All of us should access a variety of news sources with varying biases to have a more balanced view. We need to recognize the difference between factual news stories and news opinion pieces.

Sen. Romney said, “The best way we (political leaders) can show respect for the voters who are upset is by telling them the truth. That is the burden, and the duty, of leadership.”

Sadly, not all leaders speak the truth. Belief and what we wish was true can never be more important than the facts. Several key elements of a dictatorship are propaganda, suppression or lack of a free press and misinformation. One of the fastest ways to destroy democracy is for people to believe false information based on political ambition.

A key element of our democracy is the separation of powers between the different branches and levels of government. Only part of the power is given to the federal government. The rest is divided between state and local governments. This is called Federalism. Rep. John Curtis recently issued a statement explaining that Federalism is a core principle of our country and an important piece of that is respecting each state’s election procedures and outcomes. The Constitution grants Congress the specific authority to count the electoral votes, not debate the merits of each state’s election laws or the validity of the electors they choose.

In his defining Gettysburg Address, Abraham Lincoln dedicated that battlefield to the living that we might take increased devotion to give new birth to freedom and assure “that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the Earth.”

I am grateful to my members of Congress for preserving freedom at a crucial moment.

Debra Oaks Coe is a local Realtor, works as a volunteer on suicide prevention, and is the Anti-Discrimination, Co-Lead for Mormon Women for Ethical Government.