The trade group for political consultants on Wednesday condemned the takeover of the United States Capitol by a rampaging mob of Trump supporters, which delayed the certification of 2020’s Electoral College votes by a joint session of Congress.
In a statement, the American Association of Political Consultants said “our government continues because we accept the results of our elections … The peaceful transfer of power is crucial to the stability of our republic and serves as a beacon of democracy throughout the world.
“Violent takeovers of the institutions central to ensuring those freedoms are not protected by the First Amendment, nor are they the answer to grievances.
“Continuing America’s long tradition of a peaceful transfer of power is what our country needs right now.”
The AAPC’s statement came as the violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol earned widespread condemnation from across the political spectrum and ultimately resulted in all-but-one GOP Senator withdrawing objections to the certification of state electoral votes.
The trade association’s quick response is reflective of the grave nature of Wednesday’s anti-democratic action at the Capitol. Throughout the Trump era, significant rifts have emerged among political practitioners over ethics. Following the 2016 election, top members of the AAPC argued behind the scenes about the group’s need to publicly repudiate Trump over his use of anti-immigrant rhetoric that was in violation of the AAPC’s code of ethics. The association ultimately didn’t offer an official organizational condemnation, though many in the association’s leadership individually criticized Trump quite forcefully.
For political consultants, this week should elevate how critical considerations around the rhetoric and tactics employed by campaigns and organizations are. It’s far from a new conversation, but it’s one that will take on new gravity.
In a recent piece in C&E, Lincoln Project advisor Susan Del Percio and SKDK’s Oren Shur highlighted the need for practitioners to take a stand against unethical behavior by candidates and officeholders, expressing concern about what campaigns will look like in the post-Trump era.
“If you find yourself working for a candidate who believes that lying and spreading conspiracy theories is fair game, it’s time to stop working for that candidate. This type of campaigning, and governing, undermines the foundation of our democracy. Likewise, candidates and public officials should stop hiring consultants who advise their clients to lie to the press — bad strategy aside — and the public,” they wrote.
Giving voice to how many practitioners felt on Wednesday as they watched a mob storm the Capitol, George Washington University professor Peter Loge tweeted: “I volunteered on my first campaign in 1976 when I was 11. I have spent a lifetime working in politics because I believe deeply in the promise of our democracy. The unfolding events in the Capitol are unspeakably heartbreaking, sickening, and maddening.”