Troy Smajda | staff columnist
I jotted down the skeleton of this opinion piece with a little bit too much opinion on the night of Jan. 6, right after Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri gave his speech on the Senate floor (nearly at midnight by that point) objecting to the counting of legal electoral votes.
I don’t consider myself a political person, but the day-long, Hindenburg-esque coverage of a domestic terrorist mob attacking our Capitol was something I could not look away from. I can count on my fingers the number of times my father and I have discussed politics in my 22 years of life, but what happened that day simply felt too historically important for us not to watch.
I was so proud as an American to find out that our Congress members decided to reconvene in the wake of the attack to continue to count these legal electoral votes. That night there were many patriotic speeches in defense of America and its democracy, especially on the Senate floor, after terrorists invaded that floor just hours earlier.
Amazingly, even after so many unfruitful allegations and lawsuits, culminating in domestic terrorists attempting to kidnap his colleagues with zip ties, Sen. Hawley still had the unashamed gall to take the Senate floor and assert that there was fraud in the 2020 election.
There has been such a cacophony of weak arguments about “fraud” that I attempted to ignore him, but around midnight on a day that will go down in infamy because of the lies he and others perpetrated, he attempted to bolster his vacuous argument by invoking my home state of Pennsylvania, claiming it is a state he “has been focused on.”
He then went on to say (and I’m paraphrasing because of his circumlocution) that Pennsylvania passed a law in 2019 allowing mail-in ballots, and that for 100 years, the commonwealth didn’t allow mail-in ballots. That was it. Sen. Hawley sat protected in an undisclosed location planning his remarks all Jan. 6, while terrorists stormed the Capitol, and all he could come up with as the lynchpin for his fraud argument was: Pennsylvania passed a law.
My father and I audibly jeered Senator Hawley from my hometown of Johnstown, a place he definitely does not know exists. Yet he stood on the Senate floor that night parading as some savior of my state’s democracy. “We’re good,” my dad said out loud to him. I agreed.
Who is Sen. Hawley to get involved with the affairs of my state?
I have never once heard his outcries about our heartbreaking opioid epidemic.
I have never heard him raise awareness about how the city I was born in was ranked in 2020 as the poorest small city in Pennsylvania after being an economic hub just years earlier.
I have never seen him tweet about how my county and many others in Pennsylvania are considered “financially distressed” under Act 47 (a law I’m sure he overlooked during his “focus” on Pennsylvania).
And I certainly did not hear his outrage over the Steelers being forced to play three games in 12 days, resulting in a torn ACL for Bud Dupree and an end to their best shot at a Super Bowl in years. And he starkly overlooked Philadelphia’s quarterback woes and instead attempted to insult their record voter turnout by claiming it was somehow fraudulent.
Sure, that is an attempt to sound more level-headed than I felt about his remarks around midnight on Jan. 6, but the sentiment is the same: My state is full of complexities, full of beautiful countryside, full of beautiful people, and full of many pressing issues, and I promise none of them involve our ability to pass laws or use the USPS to send mail.
It seems like Sen. Hawley is just worried about Pennsylvania when it is convenient for him. It seems like he is implying the officials Pennsylvanians elected are incompetent, and cannot pass laws correctly. That is not the case: Senators Bob Casey and Pat Toomey showed that on the Senate floor when they denied these facile allegations of voter fraud in Pennsylvania. They, and we, do not need Sen. Hawley’s help, concern, or two cents.
Look at any recent election map and you will see Pennsylvania may be divided politically, but that is nothing my home state cannot overcome.
We will overcome this divide together so that the remarks of the great Dr. King who we celebrated Monday will come true: “Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.” We let freedom ring in November and we will continue to, and we do not need some senator from Missouri telling us how to do it.