The violent insurrection that occurred last week was a dark day for our country and will forever be a stain on Donald Trump’s legacy. Donald Trump bears responsibility for what happened, but the dangerous lie that led to the uprising could not have taken hold and been sustained without the help of others in Congress — including Representative Fred Keller — whose efforts to object to Pennsylvania’s electors gave continued breath to the president’s misguided efforts to overturn the election.
Protesting a bit too much that he wasn’t trying to support any individual candidate or overturn the election, Mr. Keller issued a self-serving statement that he was only raising a “narrowly focused objection” as a matter of principle — just before he asked that Pennsylvania’s electors be rejected (which, in effect, is the same thing as asking to overturn Pennsylvania’s election). In doing so, he not only attempted to disenfranchise and mislead his constituents, he also disrespected our intelligence.
Mr. Keller’s rationale for what he did is disingenuous. If, as he asserts, the issues raised in his objection were so consequential that the entire Pennsylvania election was tainted and the results should not be respected, then Mr. Keller’s own election — held at the same time, on the same ballots, under the same rules and certified in the same manner — must have been tainted too. Yet, when it comes to his election, Mr. Keller ignores the issues he raised and asks us to accept the results of his election as legitimate.
Anyone can see the deceit in Mr. Keller’s argument. If, as a matter of principle, he honestly believes that Pennsylvania’s election was invalid, then the results of his race were invalid too. He can’t have it both ways. His position is simply not credible. The truth is, Pennsylvania’s election was valid, the results are legitimate — all of them — and Mr. Keller knows it. Mr. Keller wasn’t objecting out of any sense of principle. He was objecting to demonstrate his loyalty to Donald Trump.
The more important issue is that Mr. Keller does not seem to understand that the words we use matter and that, in many cases, the words of a congressman matter a great deal. Words have power and they have consequences. Sadly, Mr. Keller chose to use his words to pander to a segment of the president’s base, to stoke a lie and advance the president’s undemocratic narrative, and it had devastating consequences. What’s worse is that he persisted in doing so even though he knew his objection would fail and pressed forward with his stunt even after the terrorists stormed the Capitol.
Of course, Mr. Keller did not cause the insurrection, but he is complicit in helping to create and sustain the environment that made it possible. And that will forever be a part of Fred Keller’s legacy.
John Meckley is a Republican from Milton. He is the former chairman of the Northumberland County Republican Committee and former Republican nominee for U.S. Congress.