Byron Donalds (R) is the recently-elected Member of Congress representing Florida’s 19th Congressional District. The district was created in 1983 and for thirty years was represented by a Democrat. Since 2013, however, this district representing southwest Florida has been a staunchly conservative, Republican stronghold.
As a constituent, I recently wrote him and posed a simple question. Expressing my deep concern about current polling indicating the degree to which so many registered Republicans believe Donald Trump’s lies that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him, I asked Rep. Donalds this question: “Do you agree or disagree with the assertion that the election of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as President and Vice-President was legitimate?”
The response I received (by email, dated Jan. 17, 2021; see below for full text) was … well … wordy, to say the least. The response was addressed to “Dear Constituent” (apparently Mr. Donalds’ staff have not yet mastered the skills required to personalize canned responses), and – to his credit – it spelled out clearly his condemnation of the violent attacks on the US Congress that occurred on Jan. 6, 2021.
At least three times, however, Mr. Donalds makes claims about the constitutionality of other States’ electoral procedures in the 2020 presidential election. At least three times Donalds asserts that there were “violations of election law” in that election. While he does not directly answer my simple “yes” or “no” question, his response clearly suggests that his answer is “no,” that he does not accept as legitimate the election of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as President and Vice-President of these United States.
Mr. Donalds is not an attorney. He has a bachelor’s degree from Florida State University, and a professional background in banking and finance. Despite his lack of legal credentials, he continues to assert – contrary to the judgments of numerous federal judges, including many Republican and some Trump-appointed judges – that the 2020 election was somehow fraudulent.
Trump and his supporters mounted no less than 42 legal challenges (as of Jan. 5, 2021) against the results of the election outcome in various states. Trump lost each and every one of these challenges. The vast majority of these challenges were unsuccessful for one reason, and one reason only: the “violations of election law” that concern Mr. Donalds DO NOT EXIST. There was no wide-spread fraud, there were no constitutional violations, there was no steal to be stopped!
Even the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) had its say. SCOTUS refused to hear a challenge brought by the Texas Attorney General and other Trump allies challenging the legitimacy of the Electoral College votes of Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Georgia. Why did SCOTUS refuse to intervene? While I’m no attorney either, one doesn’t need a law degree to understand that SCOTUS refused to intervene because of “standing.” To us non-lawyers, standing is what a court requires a litigant to have before it can bring a suit in court. It simply means that you have a say, you have a voice that needs to be heard, that you are somehow involved in the matter at hand. If you’re not involved, if you don’t have a say, it means you have “no standing.” Put bluntly … SCOTUS told Texas: “You have no standing. It’s none of your business!”
That answer, however, wasn’t good enough for Mr. Donalds. It wasn’t good enough for him that there was no evidence of wide-spread election fraud. It wasn’t good enough for him that thousands of election workers and officials throughout the country worked diligently to ensure a “free and fair election.” And, most egregiously, it wasn’t good enough for him that numerous courts, including the US Supreme Court, have lent no credence whatsoever to the bogus claims of election fraud. And so, because the weight of all this solid evidence wasn’t good enough for Mr. Donalds, he joined 147 other Republicans in the US House of Representatives in a fruitless attempt to thwart the will of millions of American voters. Mr. Donalds wanted to replace their voice with his; he wanted to replace their millions of votes for Joe Biden with his one vote for Donald Trump.
The opening sentence of Mr. Donalds’ response to me says this: “Our republic will stand.” On that, we agree. Despite the attempt of violent insurrectionists spurred on by a defeated president, and despite Rep. Donalds’ attempt to undermine the legitimate process of our elections – on Jan, 6, 2021 (and into the early hours of Jan. 7, 2021), our republic DID stand.
Byron Donalds’ refusal to state that he accepts the outcome of the 2020 election should give us pause. His refusal raises serious questions about his ability to look at facts and to make sound judgments. Let us hope and pray he will have a change of heart, a change spurred on not by the political winds of the day, but by the commitment to principle on which he states he stands “above all else.” Let us hope and pray that Rep. Donalds will clearly, unequivocally, and publicly declare that the election of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris was legitimate and that they are duly elected as President and Vice President of the United States of America.
Here is the full text of Mr. Donalds’ reponse: