Opinion: Shame on you, Congressman Clyde

Rep. Andrew Clyde to Georgians: "Don't believe what you saw with your own eyes"

“There was no insurrection,” he said.

When you think of a freshman Republican member of Congress from rural north Georgia who has gotten a lot of media attention for all the wrong reasons, you usually think of Marjorie Taylor Greene (and understandably so). But she is actually one of two freshmen House Republicans from Georgia. The other is Rep. Andrew Clyde, a Navy veteran who owns a gun shop in Athens.

This week, Congressman Clyde followed in the footsteps of his north Georgia colleague. At a Wednesday hearing on the Capitol riots, the Athens Republican essentially dismissed the events that unfolded on January 6 and said that the armed protesters were simply tourists. “To call it an insurrection, in my opinion, is a bald-faced lie,” he said.

Just to refresh everyone’s memory, here are just some of the things that these “tourists” did at the Capitol January 6:

The U.S. Capitol is a shining beacon of our republic. The monsters who committed the egregious acts listed above have made it abundantly clear by their actions that they have no respect for any of our institutions. The brave men and women who risked (and in some cases, lost) their lives defending our republic’s most hallowed ground on that horrible day can only be described as true patriots.

For Congressman Clyde to equate the Capitol rioters to tourists is not only disrespectful to every Georgian who witnessed the siege with their own eyes, but to the families of those who were injured and/or lost loved ones that day.

I also find it incredibly ironic how Congressman Clyde made these remarks on the same day his party booted Liz Cheney from her leadership role. Cheney, as we all know, was one of a handful of House Republicans to support impeaching President Trump for inciting the Capitol siege. Despite having an increasingly pro-Trump voting record, the Wyoming Republican believes that it’s time for her party to move on from the former President and his baseless claims of election fraud, commonly referred to now as “the Big Lie.”

Liz Cheney chooses truth over lies and gets ostracized from the party, but I am saddened to say that the beliefs of people like Congressman Clyde have become increasingly widespread within the Republican Party. An April poll from Reuters found that half of Republican voters believe that the January 6 insurrection was coordinated by liberal activists “to make Trump look bad.” 60% believe the the Big Lie.

I make no secret about the fact that I am a Democrat. But I would hope that we can all agree that the events of January 6 should not be viewed through a partisan lens. This isn’t about Democrats vs. Republicans. It is about right vs. wrong.

Congressman Clyde owes an apology to every Georgian. An elected official should never blatantly tell his constituents not to believe their own eyes, much less when we are talking about an attempt to overthrow our government. He is no better than those who stormed the Capitol that day.

I know that an apology from Clyde is highly unlikely, but it speaks volumes how Republicans are quick to kick Liz Cheney to the curb for telling the truth, but Clyde makes outlandish statements about the Capitol attack on the very same day and it hardly makes a blip.

The fact that a growing number of voters in a major political party also hold these beliefs should be alarming to all of us. We must keep in mind that, from a national standpoint, the 2020 election was not particularly close. But let’s say that a situation like the 2000 Florida recount were to unfold in today’s political climate, and the winner of the election was not called for several weeks. Neither the popular vote nor the electoral college were close, but what if the election had come down to a few hundred votes in a single state? Hell, a single county. It’s a scary thought, isn’t it?