Opinion: Three year after the January 6 insurrection, Wisconsin Republicans’ involvement is an ongoing threat to democracy

By Chris Walloch

January 5, 2024

Our state’s GOP has its share of election deniers and insurrection-adjacent politicians.

Across race, identity, and zip code, all of us in the Badger State value our freedom to vote and the promise that our elections are a reflection of the will of the people. On January 6, 2021, we saw how fragile that freedom could be as MAGA extremists carried out a violent attack on our nation’s Capitol and sought to overturn the 2020 presidential election.

As we mark the third anniversary of the events that unfolded on January 6, the political violence unleashed by the MAGA faction that day continues to reverberate in Wisconsin, and not just in election denial or efforts to derail holding insurrectionists accountable. Their extremism extends to policies denying people bodily autonomy, intimidating educators from teaching our real history, and putting corporate profits before our well being.

Just last month, fake electors from Wisconsin admitted to their role in trying to overturn the 2020 election, prompting urgent calls for Wisconsin Election Commissioner Bob Spindell and Judicial Conduct Advisory Committee member Jim Troupis to resign or be removed from their positions.

Spindell and Troupis both played big roles in what is now an admitted scheme to improperly overturn election results in Wisconsin. Calls for their removal underscore what most Wisconsinites can agree on: election sabotage should disqualify any person from serving in a position of public trust, especially one with influence on election administration and ethical oversight.

Yet, Wisconsin Republicans’ involvement in the violence and destruction of January 6 doesn’t stop there. Wisconsin Republican Senator Ron Johnson had involvement in the scheme to deliver fake elector paperwork, while GOP Congressmen Tom Tiffany and Scott Fitzgerald voted against certifying the results of the 2020 election and fellow Republican Congressman Derrick Van Orden was a January 6 attendee.

More recently, Van Orden, Tiffany, and Fitzgerald joined the rest of Wisconsin’s Republican Congressional delegation in voting for election denier Mike Johnson to be elected Speaker of the House. Johnson led a legal effort in late 2020 to disenfranchise voters in key states, including Wisconsin, in an effort to overturn Trump’s election loss, and most recently, attempted to censor footage of the January 6 attack to protect those who stormed the Capitol from being held accountable.

Further, the Wisconsin state legislature’s right wing majority is rife with election deniers, like those who signed a letter to try to derail the certification of the 2020 election in the lead up to January 6. 

But it’s not just the rank and file, Assembly Republican leader Robin Vos authorized a multi-million dollar boondoggle inquiry into the 2020 election, while Senate Republican leader Devin LeMahieu is on a crusade influenced by MAGA leader Donald Trump to illegally impeach Wisconsin’s top election administrator. 

Three years after the insurrection, we not only remember the attack on our freedom to vote but we must still hold accountable the MAGA public officials who were complicit, and renew our call to uphold the integrity of our elections, protect the will of the people, and ensure that voters – not politicians – decide the outcomes of our elections.

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