Updated: Jan 19
Politicians like Sen. Lindsey Graham, the South Carolina Republican who fed Donald Trump the lie that somehow he could overturn his loss to Democrat Joe Biden, need to be defunded by their major contributors. Nothing gets a politician's attention like a nice fat check -- or the absence of same.
Apparently that is beginning to happen as a number of America's biggest corporate contributors have said, according to The New York Times, that they are halting donations to the 147 Republican members of Congress who objected to certifying the election results January 6.
It was that refusal to certify that fueled the attack in support of Trump's claims that he was the victim of a stolen election, encouraging thousands of his supporters to come to Washington on that day and attack the Capitol with the intent of disrupting the election certification process.
According to The Times, AT&T, Marriott International, Dow, Airbnb and Morgan Stanley were among those companies that said they would halt donations from their political action committees, or PACs, to those 147 GOP members of Congress.
Billionaire conservative donor Ken Langone, co-founder of Home Depot and a strong Trump supporter, said on CNBC that he feels betrayed by Trump. Looks like he'll be rethinking his contributions, as he says he plans to support Biden following his inauguration.
UPDATE: The Washington Post reported today that those lawmakers who objected to the election results have been cut off from 20 of their 30 biggest corporate PAC donors.
If nothing else does, being deserted by high dollar donors should get the attention of these politicians. Big money is involved. American corporate PACs gave $91 million to members of the House of Representatives and $27 million pro senators, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Cutting off that cash lifeline should at least make them stop and think about what they are doing, if nothing else does.
Lindsey Graham's Changing Tune
Graham, who on November 3 easily won re-election to the Senate after a well-funded campaign, was one of those who encouraged Trump's irrational view that somehow a fair election could only have resulted in his election and that any other result was caused by fraud and corruption.
In the days following the election, Graham repeatedly urged Trump not to concede and to continue to fight.
"This is a contested election," he said on Fox News the weekend after the election. "Do not concede, Mr. President. Fight hard."
A few days later, Graham called Brad Raffensperger, secretary of state in Georgia, one of the key battleground states that Biden won, and implied that Raffensperger should try to discard ballots. Raffensperger, a lifelong Republican who voted twice for Trump, refused.
Consistently, Graham supported and encouraged Trump's claim that he lost the election because it was stolen, encouraging the irrational actions of a president whose ego simply will not allow him to accept that 7 million more people voted for Biden than him.
And so, bolstered by Graham and other sycophants like Rudy Giuliani and Don, Jr., Trump continued to rally his base, claiming he was the victim of a stolen election. He urged all patriots who support him to come to Washington for the January 6 rally that would be "wild." Then, at that rally, Trump encouraged them to go to the Capitol and "fight".
They did. And at least five people died.
Now that Trump has been impeached by the House for inciting that attempted insurrection, and a Senate trial is soon to begin, Graham has suddenly changed his tune. It's time for reconciliation, he says. Time to begin healing.
In a letter to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), soon to be majority leader, Graham urged the Senate's dismissal of the House-approved impeachment article that charges Trump with inciting the attempted insurrection.
Warned Graham, “We will be delaying indefinitely, if not forever, the healing of this great nation if we do otherwise. Our obligation to the people we represent is clear. History will judge us harshly, as it should, if we do not rise to the occasion of this historic moment in our history.”
Graham said political leaders who were complicit in the attack on the Capitol "will be held accountable."
If that is the case, Senator Graham can expect a knock at the door. As much as anyone, he is responsible for encouraging Trump's fantasies, and thus, for the violence that resulted in the Capitol attack and the continuing hate and threats coming from the right-wing extremists who have followed him.
It also means that Trump must be held accountable, and there is no better way to do that than for the Senate to convict him for inciting that mob and that January 6 attempted insurrection.
Meanwhile, as Biden faces the challenge of healing a torn nation in the midst of the worst health crisis in a century, those politicians who endorse and promote the conspiracy theories and lies that led to that event need to be declawed.
Cutting off their corporate contributions is a great way to achieve that goal and tone down the irresponsible political rhetoric that feeds the fury of those who still believe they have somehow been aggrieved.