There are many legitimate ways to criticize an elected official’s performance. Whether it is voting for bad legislation or the administration of an office, there are many reasons to argue someone should be removed from office. But there is a big difference between removing someone from office and calling for that person’s death. That is the line that a very “Trumpy” U.S. Senate candidate in Ohio crossed.
Am I being over-dramatic? Am I being uncharitable? No, I am not. Think about the implications of this tweet by U.S. Senate candidate Josh Mandel for a minute. Treason is a death penalty offense. If Bradford Raffensperger is a “traitor” then he has committed a crime that would justly bring the death penalty. A Republican candidate for the US Senate is saying that the secretary of state in Georgia should be executed. That is what calling someone a traitor means.
Republicans need to be better than this kind of reckless, irresponsible rhetoric. Treason has a very specific definition in the United States Constitution, and the handling of election procedures does not constitute waging war against the USA or giving “aid and comfort” to our enemies. This kind of language only serves to make people more angry and divides us even more. And for those concerned about election integrity, Mandel’s inflammatory language undermines the argument for stronger procedures.
Am I saying that Georgia election officials did everything right? No. Am I denying that they could have and should have done more to ensure the security of the vote? No. One can make the argument for removing Republican office-holders in Georgia. I might agree or I might not, but Josh Mandel is not even attempting to make that argument. He is stirring people up to prove to primary voters he is the “most conservative” of the candidates on the ballot. This is about naked ambition, not principle.