opinion Newport Rhode Island

By Rep. Jason Knight (D-Dist. 67, Barrington, Warren)

Like you, I have watched with increasing alarm the escalation of rhetoric by the president and those who are pushing the “stop-the-steal” lie.

I realize that our democracy is often a messy affair. I know that the right of free speech can and often does create divisions and hard feelings. Nevertheless, I cherish our free speech rights. It is often said, and I agree, that the solution to bad speech is more speech.

However, there is a line beyond which words and acts are no longer protected by the First Amendment because they seek to destroy the very government that grants those rights. This is, in a word, sedition.

For weeks the president has walked right up to the line and many believe he crossed it long before last week. But on Jan. 6, 2021, he and a significant number of his followers charged past that line into violence, and in doing so opened a new and very dark chapter in our history.

Those who continue to support Trump and his efforts to remain in office are engaging in sedition. To be clear, I’m not talking about everybody who voted for Donald Trump. Of those roughly 74 million voters who supported Trump, I believe the vast majority see what is happening for what it is: sedition.

But there are some who have broken the law and are trying to upend our democratic process. They have endangered the country with their acts and they must be found and punished.

Donald Trump should be impeached, convicted and barred from public office. He should also be tried and jailed. Likewise, the leaders of the “QAnon” and “Stop the Steal” conspiracies, as well as every single individual who participated in the seditious attack on our Capitol, should be tried and jailed.

Now, I call upon all of our leaders to repudiate Trump, his allies, and his crimes once and for all.

This is not Germany in 1933. But our situation is more similar than I ever thought possible. It is no exaggeration to say we are now at a real crossroads.

Nevertheless, I am confident that our country is stronger than one man. If we reaffirm the rule of law and the foundational principles of American democracy, we can easily resist Trump’s call to fascism.

 Rep. Jason Knight is a Democrat who represents District 67 in Barrington and Warren.​​