There is a reason why “truth and reconciliation” commissions are used to peacefully end civil wars. Before there can be reconciliation, there must be truth. Without accountability, unity is impossible.
Stacey Cowles deserves praise for his apology Sunday (“Looking forward to the new era with President Biden,” Jan. 24). It was a mistake, he now admits, to endorse Donald Trump. Cowles is honest about the threat Trumpism poses to American democracy, about the lie Trump and his enablers told about election fraud, and he now calls for impeachment.
Some will criticize Cowles for flip-flopping, others will cry too little, too late.
As one the fiercest critics of the paper’s endorsement of Trump (“Spokesman-Review wrong to endorse Trump,” Nov. 1, 2020), I admire Stacey now. It always good to reexamine one’s views in light of new evidence, and it’s never too late to embrace truth.
Public mea culpas take courage, courage springing from a sense of integrity, honor, and commitment to truth. These qualities are in short supply nowadays.
As Stacey made clear, his change of heart isn’t about partisanship or policy. It’s about patriotism, his commitment to democratic governance.
That’s why it’s equally heartening to see many Washington Republicans — Dan Newhouse, Jaime Herrera Beutler, Kim Wyman – also courageously step up in defense of truth. Truth that many of their supporters would rather not hear. Donald Trump lost the election, lied to make his supporters believe otherwise, and attempted to overturn democracy through any means possible, including inciting a violent mob to attack the U.S. Capitol.
That is the unvarnished truth. The sooner we come to terms with it, the sooner we can reconcile.
It is disappointing that our representative in the 5th Congressional District has yet to summon the courage to embrace the truth. She surely knows better but shies away from leveling with her constituents. Let’s hope that changes. It’s never too late.
For now, let’s acknowledge those engaged in the process of reconciliation. Those courageous enough to speak truth, even when it’s hard. They are real patriots.
Cornell Clayton, C.O. Johnson Distinguished Professor of Government
Washington State University