• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

Former Congressman Chandler reacts to violence at Capitol

Former United States Congressman Ben Chandler described the violence at the Capitol in Washington, D. C., Jan. 6 as a culmination of four years of pandering and enabling by Republicans. “Who would’ve expected, frankly, that a President of the United States would incite a mob … against his country’s own institutions,” said Chandler, a Democrat who lives in Versailles and served in the U. S. House of Representatives for nine years. After watching pro-Trump protestors storm the Capitol and commit violent acts against police officers, Chandler said, “It just tells you that what the President of this country says and does is important. “... You need somebody to inspire the country, not somebody who’s going to attack different elements of the country and different people in the country.” In the weeks leading up to Congress certifying the Electoral College results of the November presidential election Jan. 6, President Trump used social media to dispute vote counts in several states, without providing sufficient evidence in court to support his claims that voter fraud had stolen the election from him. Chandler said Trump’s behavior during his term is not what this country ought to stand for. “I just hope this is the end rather than just a point of progression ... toward something even worse. That’s what worries me. I hope this will bring it to a close and we can move on,” he said during an interview Jan. 7. One of the bedrocks of our country’s democracy is a peaceful transition after votes are counted and an incumbent loses an election, Chandler said. As chair of the Kentucky State Board of Elections, he said it’s “very, very important” to understand that 50 states are each responsible for their own elections because there isn’t a federal election. And within each state are smaller voting jurisdictions, he emphasized. Elections in Kentucky’s 120 counties are overseen by the state Board of Elections (with four Democratic and four Republican members), however, each county runs its own election, Chandler explained. He said representatives of both parties also serve on a local board that certifies election results in each county. “At the federal level, the result that we get is an aggregation of these thousands of county elections throughout the country,” said Chandler. “So it’s a mystery to me as to how you could rig that on a widespread basis. You’d have to rig it one by one. All of these elections are separate. They’re separately administered” by different boards of election. “It’s a huge safeguard, a massive safeguard (for an election). And it’s why people ought to have trust in the elections,” he added. Chandler said people in this country shouldn’t take “this great democracy” for granted. “This is a democracy unlike any (other), and it’s fragile,” he said. “... And we need to stop enabling people who are threatening that democracy – particularly with misinformation.” He described the misinformation about the 2020 elections that led up to the storming of the Capitol as troubling. “If we can’t be a country that’s based on factual information and truth then the democracy won’t work. It’s central to the working of a democracy. And if we can’t rely on that then we don’t have any chance in the future,” said Chandler. “We’ve never seen anything like this. And ... this whole thing has been driven by misinformation. It’s dangerous. If you expect the citizens of this country to govern themselves, that system will only work if they have accurate information. If they’re not receiving accurate information, then how can you expect to properly govern themselves? It can’t be done. It’s central to the whole thing.” Because of misinformation and the political divide in this country, Joe Biden will begin his presidency with about half of the American public already conditioned to disbelieve anything he tells them, Chandler said. “... Social media is a powerful tool as we’ve seen,” he added, “and it has a lot of power over what is happening in the country right now.” (Chandler’s family owns the Woodford Sun.)

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