KOKOMO – And now we know the truth. It was never about draining the swamp.  It was never about building a wall. It was never about restoring power to the governed. It was, is and forever will be about doing what most benefitted Donald J. Trump.  

First, let me start by acknowledging that there were some very good things that happened over the years prior to the pandemic. Our economy skyrocketed.  Bureaucratic red tape was cut and enabled all Americans to prosper.  Unemployment rates dropped to historical lows in every measurable subgroup.  

The judiciary was nudged to a less activist and more conservative status by a wealth of newly appointed judges at all levels, including three outstanding appointments to the United States Supreme Court. Peace broke out in the Middle East when several nations struck long-awaited treaties with Israel.  Our military was beefed up to deal with threats from current adversaries and potential adversaries in the future. China’s threat to world peace and our economy was recognized and the process of reining in its abuses was well underway. All in all, the achievements of President Trump’s term in office were pretty impressive.

But, then there were the other things that hallmarked the Trump Administration. The vainglorious, megalomaniacal rantings via Twitter, the revolving door staff changes that discarded a host of talented public servants like empty beer cans, the associations maintained with questionable friends, the vilification of anyone, friend or foe, who dared to disagree with The Donald. Worst of all, the incessant and unabated failure to tell the truth in the smallest to the most important matters. In certain ways, he conducted himself as a blended incarnation of Benito Mussolini and Joseph Goebbels. I don’t want to dance around this one. Donald Trump was a big fat liar!

As soon as the election was concluded, you could see that the Trump experience was not going to have a happy ending. The man, who was given everything as a child and probably never told “no” or disciplined as he grew up, simply was not going to let something as quaint as democracy and the sanctity of our presidential election stand in the way of his continued occupancy of the White House. Donald Trump was going to go kicking and screaming from the Oval Office and if he needed to trash our sacred institutions and traditions to further his ambitions, then so be it. It was Donald Trump who was responsible for the disastrous and dangerous week we all experienced last week. Let there never be any confusion over who was responsible for the riot and mayhem that struck our Capitol.

Two Hoosiers rose above the crowd last week with their mature, steady conduct and fidelity to our United States Constitution. Vice President Mike Pence and Sen. Todd Young will enter the history books as two men who actually believe in oaths, the Constitution and in acting in the best interests of their country and not their careers.

The selection of Mike Pence as Donald Trump’s running mate in 2016 was potentially an uneasy marriage from the start. No two men could be more different from each other. Pence was not a man of wealth and privilege. The vice president was deeply religious and dogmatically conservative. Mike Pence was also a very humble and nice person. While we occasionally had our differences regarding some social issues, I always maintained the highest level of respect for his integrity and personal conduct. He was an amazing counter-argument for those who cynically believe that nice guys can’t go anywhere in politics. Mike Pence often stated that “when you find a turtle on top of a fence post, you know he didn’t get there by himself.” Pence believed in friend-raising as much as he ever did in fundraising. He made friends honestly and naturally and cultivated those relationships over time.

Mike Pence was probably not Donald Trump’s first choice for vice president, but given the horrendous stories leaking out concerning Trump’s abhorrent personal conduct and wanton animalistic treatment of women, he needed a reliably “Christian” running mate to cement his bona fides with a significant portion of the Republican voting base. Someday when Pence writes his autobiography, I will thumb forward in the book to learn about the behind the scenes discussions between Mike and Karen that preceded his agreement to give up the job of Indiana governor and take the unenviable job of counterbalancing Donald Trump.

I expected from the beginning that there would come a day when Donald Trump and Mike Pence would divorce. Frankly, I expected it long before last week. The only glue holding the relationship together was the fact that Mike Pence is a loyal man. He learned that his loyalty was unrequited when he had the temerity to place the United States Constitution ahead of blind loyalty to a raving madman.  

Some would say that Mike Pence was only doing his job when he failed to obey Trump’s commands to void the lawful presidential election and become complicit in a de facto coup d’état. I contend that Pence demonstrated great courage in following his constitutional obligations. He knew that refusal to bend to Trump’s will would likely put an end to his future presidential ambitions. Polls have indicated that 30% of Trump’s voters believed that fraud decided the election. These would be voters he would need in future primaries.  

He also knew that Donald Trump was a vile and vicious man who trashed honorable men and American heroes with equal disregard. Once Pence failed to do the president’s bidding, he would be forever marked as a “loser” in Trump’s book and subject to future unrelenting ridicule. Pence could have sent the Electoral College votes back to the states in question and let them recertify or do their worst, the equivalent of a political punt. He refused to take the easy path. He bravely acted as a man who loves and respects his country and its Constitution and did his job. He did this amidst screams in the halls of Congress and on social media to hang him. This makes him a hero in my book.

My other Hoosier hero last week was Sen. Todd Young. It would have been so easy to have joined multiple other senators in challenging the votes in certain swing states. With a 2022 reelection campaign staring him in the face, the path of least resistance would have led him to siding with Sens. Mike Braun, Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, Marsha Blackburn and other firebrands who were focusing more on their futures than on the future of our country. Young not only refused to join in the challenge to the election, but he became a forceful voice for obeying oaths and following the Constitution.

One of my lasting impressions of last week’s political circus and riot will be Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley, a future presidential candidate, playing to the Trump faithful and future rioters by giving a fisted power salute. Contrast Hawley’s entrance to the Senate chambers with Indiana Sen. Todd Young, a Marine veteran, fearlessly wading into the angry mob and pleading his case. “I value your opinion. I actually share your concerns,” Young said. “But the law matters. I took an oath under God. Under God, I took an oath.  Do we still take that seriously in this country?” Later, Young affirmed that he would “uphold my constitutional duty” and vote to certify the Electoral College results.

The crowd that Sen. Young confronted was the same group who crashed in the doors to the Capitol building, who screamed to hang Mike Pence and who murdered the Capitol police officer. Young demonstrated personal and professional courage far and above the call of duty. While many of his fellow senators quaked in their boots and figuratively hid under their desks, Young took his views into the teeth of an angry mob. That is heroism and that is true leadership.

As we look back over the disaster of last week, we can be very proud of the two Hoosiers who did not flinch in the face of adversity and danger, two loyal and honest public servants who put country before themselves. Despite what you might think about their politics, they should be honored for standing tall in the moment of danger. 

Dunn is the former chairman of the Howard County Republican Party.