EDITORIAL: Scott Perry must resign

York Dispatch editorial board
In this image from video, Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., speaks as the House debates the objection to confirm the Electoral College vote from Pennsylvania, at the U.S. Capitol early Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021. (House Television via AP)

A day that should have seen the nation take the final steps toward its ritual peaceful transfer of power instead saw that process brought to a violent standstill as thousands of supporters of President Donald Trump’s baseless claims of a rigged election stormed the Capitol.

That shocking, frightening display of lawlessness was followed shortly after midnight by the sight of Rep. Scott Perry leading a gang of Republican congressmen in an ill-advised, ultimately fruitless attempt to disenfranchise his own constituents by objecting to the counting of the electoral votes from "my beloved commonwealth of Pennsylvania."

If Perry truly believes that the election that returned him to the Capitol for a fifth term was illegal and the results should be overturned, he does have a personal recourse. He can and should resign. Immediately.

More:Perry leads failed charge to oust Biden's Pennsylvania electors

More:Pro-Trump mob storms U.S. Capitol in bid to overturn election

More:Toomey rips fellow Republicans for backing Trump's election gambit

More:ANALYSIS: Trump's rage ignites mob assault on democracy

"When votes are accepted under unconstitutional means, without fair and equal protection for all, the only result can only be an illegitimate outcome," Perry said on the House floor during debate over his objection to Pennsylvania's votes.

How can anyone who says that the votes that put him into his office, the votes that allowed him voice on the House floor during one of the most important functions Congress has, overseeing the orderly transfer of power to a new presidential administration, were accepted under unconstitutional means and produced an illegitimate outcome, and then keep that office? 

How can a man who only Sunday swore once again to defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic turn around early Thursday morning and try to steal away the votes of the people he was elected to represent, using grounds that have been rejected time and time again by a variety of judges?

How can such a man then expect to hold the respect of those constituents and expect them to trust him to hold their best interests at heart while representing them?

It can't be done. Perry has taken a step too far. He cannot be trusted to represent the people of the 10th District, the people whose votes he was so willing to cast aside in the service of a demagogue of a president who just hours earlier had incited a mob to force their way into the U.S. Capitol building.

Wednesday afternoon saw rioters swarm overmatched security forces to occupy the halls of Congress, causing a halt to formal certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory. Vice President Mike Pence, who was to oversee the certification, was evacuated. House and Senate members were protected at an undisclosed location while the rioters broke into their offices and took selfies on the floor of the House and Senate chambers. 

One person was reportedly shot and killed on the Capitol grounds, three others reportedly died as a result of medical conditions, and several police officers were injured.

It had all the trappings of an attempted coup. And it was entirely predictable.

The president has thrived on chaos and anarchy for most of his four years in office. His repeated efforts to undermine the legitimacy of an election he overwhelmingly lost — abetted by reliably conspiratorial voices among right-wing media and lawmakers like Perry — has created an army of like-minded partisans who feel justified in their beliefs, their belligerence and their violence.

Unable to accept defeat, Trump has continued to embrace the fantasy that he was robbed of the election and has encouraged this angry conspiracy theory in his followers, nodding and winking and instigating all the way.

Perry has gone along with this fantasy, culminating in his speech on the House floor early Thursday morning — followed by a shouting match with fellow Pennsylvania Rep. Connor Lamb — and his vote, along with 137 other Republicans, to not count Pennsylvania's electors.

He is a disgrace to Pennsylvania and our democracy, and he has to go.