In the wake of a violent insurrection in Washington D.C. which interrupted, but did not derail, the U.S. Congress counting the votes of the Electoral College and confirming Joseph Biden will be the next U.S. president, the American Political Science Association released a statement condemning President Trump and those Republican legislators who have supported his misinformation campaign centered on the election. (Statements from other academic and learned societies are listed below.)
“The President has sown doubt and mistrust in the democratic process and the electoral process in the United States,” the statement reads. “Democracy is resilient but it is also fragile, and it is undermined by the actions of those elected legislators who repeat and amplify specious claims of electoral fraud.”
That statement, which appears in full below, closes with the sentiment that “Political scientists stand ready to support the work of our elected officials to chart a path forward.” APSA, founded in 1903, serves more than 11,000 members, according to its website. Normally its public statements focus on the “the rights and freedoms of political scientists and scholars,” making its denunciation of Trump unusual.
Unusual, but not unwelcome. Harvard University government professor Jennifer Hochschild, who focuses on African and African-American studies, called the APSA statement “great” and “well-done.”
Pippa Norris, the director of the Electoral Integrity Project at Harvard, tweeted that while the statement was “good,” it was tardy. “But, honestly, too little, too late, with just 2 weeks left. Where was this statement during the last four years, in which time Trump attacked electoral integrity in over 300 Tweets? Many researchers have been expressing concern about this situation for years & years.” Norris just delivered an address to Britain’s Political Studies Association on “The 2020 US Elections and the Future of American Democracy.”
Good. But, honestly, too little, too late, with just 2 weeks left.— Pippa Norris (@PippaN15) January 7, 2021
Where was this statement during the last four years, in which time Trump attacked electoral integrity in over 300 Tweets?
Many researchers have been expressing concern about this situation for years & years. https://t.co/KBRdbLgWsV
Here is the full text of the APSA’s “Statement on the Insurrection at the US Capitol”:
Yesterday, a mob incited by the President of the United States overran the US Capitol in a violent insurrection. Those who forcibly entered the Capitol building and its offices struck at the heart of democratic principles in the United States, disrupting lawmaking and the peaceful transition of power that has served as a centerpiece of American democracy. By interrupting a largely ceremonial action on the false promise of overturning the results of a free and fair election, this mob led to the needless death and injury of Americans and posed an imminent threat to US lawmakers, their staffs, and the staff of the US Capitol building.
We are shocked, dismayed and disgusted at the events on Capitol Hill. As scholars of government and politics, we condemn President Trump and legislators who have continuously endorsed and disseminated falsehoods and misinformation, and who have worked to overturn the results of the Presidential election. The President has sown doubt and mistrust in the democratic process and the electoral process in the United States. Democracy is resilient but it is also fragile, and it is undermined by the actions of those elected legislators who repeat and amplify specious claims of electoral fraud.
Now the hard work of rebuilding our institutions and our democratic norms must start. We applaud the work of the House and Senate in completing their constitutional duties to certify the election results. The efforts to begin reconciliation yesterday after order was restored are reflective of what public officials need to be doing to help rebuild confidence in our democratic institutions, including agreement by both sides to do better and work together to dismantle the systems and structures that lead to the harm. Political scientists stand ready to support the work of our elected officials to chart a path forward.
Other Statements Excerpted
“In the span of 24 hours, we witnessed the best and the worst of our nation. The day before Capitol Hill was stormed by a mob, Georgia voters elected the first Black Senator and first Jewish Senator to ever represent their state in Congress.”
“It’s imperative that [Donald Trump] stop spreading false information that incited today’s violence and has led many others to deny the true election outcome.”
“We need to say and mean “never again,” as we come to grips with the endless manipulation of truth, the undermining of civil society, and the direct assault on all those committed to a country of freedom and dignity for all. May our next generation learn from this event, may our educational institutions and programs be up to the task, and may we together eradicate the cause of such acts of terrorism and hate in our nation.”
“The current administration’s attacks on truth, inflammatory rhetoric, and baseless objections to the result of a free and fair election have now led to violence, highlighting the precarious state of our democracy. We look forward to working with the new administration, Senate, and House to strengthen our democracy and to strengthen our education system, a key underpinning of a functional democracy.”
“People in the extended ASA community have organized their lifework around practices of freedom, knowledge, and teaching that unapologetically confront this physical and figurative mob in, before, and beyond 2021. I write as your colleague, comrade, and ‘ASA President’ to urge you to invigorate and expand your scholarly, activist, and creative labors in this time of turmoil. The ASA is but one modest apparatus at your disposal.” [Added January 11]