This statement was written and approved by the leadership team of Lancaster Stands Up, a grassroots organization with over 400 dues-paying members across Lancaster County.
The chaos that unfolded yesterday in our nation’s Capitol was shocking to watch, but unfortunately it was not surprising. It was utterly predictable. Extremists had been openly plotting yesterday’s ham-handed armed coup attempt for weeks online, completely visible and known to GOP elected representatives like Congressman Lloyd Smucker, who chose to keep stoking fear, division, and delusions, and deliberately spreading misinformation, to fuel an evermore extreme base.
The nation and the world watched with horror yesterday. The damage to our country will be with us for years to come.
There must be consequences for every culpable person, starting at the top. Trump must be impeached and removed. Even with only days remaining before he leaves office, it is imperative that our institutions send a clear message that there are consequences for sedition.
But Trump was only able to do this damage with an army of enablers. Among them is our Congressman, Lloyd Smucker, who is as culpable as anyone for yesterday’s disgraceful events. Lloyd Smucker must resign.
Yesterday, Trump deployed his supporters to the Capitol. And Lloyd Smucker helped usher them to Washington. It is clear that Smucker knew about the buses being organized from Lancaster County and that he personally knows the organizers (and even called them yesterday).
But Lloyd Smucker’s culpability goes much further back than the immediate lead-up to yesterday’s chaos. Fundamentally, this is what happens when a political party spends years feeding the most dangerous instincts, behaviors, and beliefs of its base. And that is what our elected representative, Lloyd Smucker has consistently done—and allowed his office to do—since he was first sworn in four years ago.
Smucker has no one to blame but himself. He doesn’t get to stoke fear, division, and lies and enable a reckless authoritarian for four years, and then feign surprise when his base follows through.
Like many in the GOP, Lloyd Smucker often speaks piously about “personal responsibility.” But he is taking no responsibility for his role in creating this chaos. He tweeted yesterday that he was “horrified by the violence and destruction at the Capitol,” asserting that, “This is not who we are as a country.”
Then late last night, in the wake of the day’s chaos, our Congressman went on to vote to reject our Commonwealth’s electoral votes in an attempt to override the will of the people of Pennsylvania. That this gesture was merely symbolic is no less damning. If ever there was a moment when our nation needed its leaders to use the symbolic power of their office to clearly signal a shared commitment to democratic principles and to our Constitution, it is now. Instead Lloyd Smucker chose to keep feeding the delusions and anti-democratic impulses of his base.
‘What happened’ to our Congressman is as simple as it is unacceptable: he made a Faustian bargain with a reckless demagogue. When Trump was running in the 2016 primary, Lloyd Smucker apparently did not like what he saw. But once Smucker witnessed the power of Trump’s dangerous rhetoric—when he saw how lies and vitriol could fire up a base and win power for the GOP and for himself—he made a choice to hitch his ride to that wagon. Overnight, the change was apparent. Lloyd Smucker, the measured PA State Senator who seemed to have genuine concern for his constituents was nowhere to be found. In his place we encountered US Congressman Lloyd Smucker, who fully embraced the new GOP approach under Trump. We watched Smucker cling to one rationalization after another and contort himself with theological gymnastics, trying to reconcile the evil he now embraced with the good he professed to believe.
To be clear, the stakes today are not about Republicans versus Democrats. This is about America versus an existential threat. Yesterday’s events and the larger crisis they point to cuts deeper than the perennial conflicts between political parties and ideological leanings. We understand that when we elect representatives, one side wins and the other loses. But we all rightly expect, and indeed our democracy depends upon, an uncompromising commitment to certain fundamental principles that protect all of us. Lloyd Smucker has betrayed that trust. He must resign.
We are not simply calling on Lloyd Smucker to resign of his own volition, even though he should. The elected officials responsible for yesterday’s coup attempt must be impeached and prosecuted. We also need journalists to investigate the role of elected officials, including Smucker, in inciting, supporting, and collaborating with the planners of yesterday’s attempted coup.
It is time for Lloyd Smucker to put country over party. When a leader’s failure culminates in such colossal damage, they are no longer fit to lead. For the good of our nation, our Commonwealth, and Lancaster County, Congressman Lloyd Smucker must resign.