Normally, we would give a grace period to a freshly sworn-in politician. But the actions and words of Rep. Cliff Bentz warrant not patience, but condemnation.

Each of us heard President Trump’s seditious call to incite violence. We heard him telling the terrorist mob that he “loved them.” But in an interview with Oregon Public Broadcasting the day after the storming and looting of the Capitol, Bentz said he wasn’t familiar with what Trump said before or afterward.

Either Rep. Bentz is lying, or he’s staggeringly ignorant.

When asked whether he would support invoking the 25th Amendment to the Constitution to remove Trump from office, Bentz said he couldn’t be expected to have read the amendment and know what it means.

Yet, in striking contrast, Bentz voted against certifying the electoral votes of Pennsylvania, showing he’s well-versed in conspiracy theories.

Incoming President Joe Biden won the election and every state certified their electors. In fact, Biden received 81.3 million votes, a historic number. He pummeled Trump by more than 7 million votes. Biden’s win in the electoral college was not even close — at 306 to 232. Voter fraud? Rigged election? Nearly 60 courts heard the claims and unanimously concluded: There’s no evidence.

Jan. 6 was supposed to be a ceremonial duty. By joining in with the other Republicans in the attempt to overturn the results of a fair election simply because they were angry with the result, Rep. Bentz must accept responsibility for the terrorism that ensued.

No, Bentz: You do not get a pass by your constituents of Eastern Oregon, including my home town of Bend. You may have entered the office as a Trump loyalist, but you took an oath to defend the U.S. Constitution, not a despot. You swore to defend our country against all enemies, both foreign and domestic.

In order to lead, we need to trust your judgment. You knew before being sworn in that Trump had completely failed to control the spread of the coronavirus. You knew the havoc the virus was unleashing on our economy, as well as the horrendous and mounting loss of lives. You knew his record on rejecting science, denying climate change, abusing women, undermining civil rights, bullying allies, spreading self-serving misinformation, thwarting the rule of law and fanning the flames of hate and division.

Congressman Bentz, after today, how can we trust you? If we’ve learned anything from the last four years, it’s this: If we know or suspect of a cancer on the body politic, we must intervene early to stop it before it metastasizes. We can no longer assume that a malignant political neophyte will, with time and patience, mature into a healthy and mature statesman. Recall Senator Collins’ infamous prediction after her no vote: Now that he’s been impeached, Trump has learned his lesson and will now act more presidential.

I call on you, Rep. Bentz, to unequivocally renounce Trump and all he stands for. Apologize for your vote to overturn the will of the people. Apologize for fomenting lies that stirred up extremists to attempt a coup d’etat.

The health and life of our democracy is on the line. Trump may be out, but his stain remains. Is Rep. Bentz stained by the Trump virus of hatred, bigotry, willful ignorance, despotism and sedition? So far, the diagnosis is affirmative. We can’t wait two years for rehabilitation.

I implore Rep. Bentz to read the 25th Amendment. Show us you are capable of self-healing by joining the growing numbers of Democrats and Republicans who are advocating for the swift removal of our unfit commander-in-chief. Every moment that the maniacal Trump remains in office is a grave danger to the security of this nation and the world.

———

Roger Worthington, an asbestos cancer lawyer, is the owner of Worthy Brewing in Bend.

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