The Journal Gazette
Friday, January 15, 2021 1:00 am

Decision time for Banks

Trump or the Constitution? Our congressman can't support them both

Perry Shilts

Federal disclosure forms reveal that five short years ago, Jim Banks, with his college degree and MBA, earned less than $17,000 as a commercial realtor.

Today, Banks earns 10 times that as northeast Indiana’s congressman. Today, Banks regularly appears on Fox and other more right-wing networks, such as One America News Network and Newsmax. Today, Banks is the unanimously elected leader of the Republican Study Committee, the most influential Republican caucus in the House.

Five short years for America and five light years in advancement for Banks personally and financially.

Is this a source of pride for northeast Indiana or a source of embarrassment?

Banks, like Mark Souder and Marlin Stutzman before him, came from a small, rural, virtually all-white community.

Banks touted Mom, apple pie and Trump.

On Nov. 19, two weeks after Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump in the presidential election, Banks declared, “I want to lead that conversation, ... and draw from the many lessons that we’ve learned from Pres. Trump ... Our party has to look a lot more like Donald Trump than some of the Republican candidates in the past. ... Trump taught us how to fight and win with an agenda that appeals to a popular base. House conservatives must follow his example and carry that Trump message the next two years.”

Trump has never disguised himself. From the “Access Hollywood” tape; to his name-calling; to his racial divisiveness; to his obsessive lying; to his cheating on his wives, his taxes and in his businesses; to his all-consuming, self-gratifying egomania; to his call for overthrow of the constitutional process of acknowledging our new president; Trump has always been Trump.

And Banks declares America should learn from Trump, fight like Trump, follow his example, and Banks wants to lead that conversation.

Much as Trump cannot disguise himself, neither can Banks. His arrogance was on display when he described protesters outside his office last weekend as “laughable” because he had won two-thirds of the votes in his district.

Those protesters, along with millions of others, decried Banks’ and other congresspersons’ objections to the ceremonial counting of the presidential votes by Congress, even after the Capitol building had been overrun by Trumplicans, or “patriots” as they label themselves, on Jan. 6.

Those thugs overran the defenses of the Capitol pursuing justice for Trump, who maintained the election had been stolen from him, even though he lost by more than 7 million votes, 74 Electoral College votes, had his claims summarily dismissed by more than 60 courts, including the Supreme Court, and had the integrity of the election results validated by his lackey attorney general, Bill Barr, and his appointed cybersecurity specialist, Chris Krebs.

Yet Banks continued to stoke the flames of Trump’s big lie about the big steal by contesting election results from states whose voting results were certified by election officials, some of them Republican, and by their state courts.

Banks, just like Sens. Lindsey Graham, Todd Young and Mike Braun (all Republicans) when they voted that same day to accept the election results, knew the truth and knew there was no basis for contesting the election.

Yet Banks did so unapologetically because he had been elected by two-thirds of his constituents and knew the more he hailed and echoed Trump and his lies, the more he was assured of reelection by us.

Young, when he accepted the vote totals, declared, “... upon assuming office, I took a solemn inviolable oath to support and defend our Constitution, just as I did as a United States Marine. I will not violate that oath.”

Banks took those same two oaths to protect and defend our Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic, and he violated them both by seeking to overturn presidential election results with no facts to support that action, knowing that Trump’s assertions were blatantly fictitious, and knowing that by objecting to the constitutionally created and historically honored process, he was undermining the clear reading of our Constitution and weakening our democracy by legitimizing false election claims.

Almost 60 years ago, Martin Luther King Jr. stirred the hearts and minds of a generation when he declared, “I have a dream ...”

On Jan. 6, as Trump stirred the anger within the minds of his “special people,” he had a dream, also.

Presumably, Banks shared that dream of Trump serving a second term, notwithstanding the facts and our Constitution.

Thankfully, Banks’ efforts failed, but undoubtedly he perceives that his star is now brighter than ever in the eyes of “special people” and maybe even in the eyes of us, his constituents, all because of his unqualified support for the most egregious behavior of any president in our history.

Come Wednesday, if Banks cannot say that Biden is his president and America’s president, then Banks is not the answer to any of America’s problems, but rather is America’s problem, should not be anyone’s congressman, and is as un-American as those “special people” Trump loves and incited on Jan. 6. 

Perry Shilts is a Fort Wayne attorney.

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