Like anyone with respect for our country's Democracy and the peaceful transition of power, JT Wilcox watched what transpired in Washington D.C. on Wednesday with disgust and anger.
As a violent mob of President Donald Trump's supporters stormed the capitol — temporarily halting, by force and belligerence, the counting of electoral votes confirming President-elect Joe Biden's victory — the Republican state House Minority Leader from Yelm refused to shy away from the obvious.
While on a national level some in his party sought to parse the day's ugly events, backpedaled or wiggled awkwardly to distance themselves from culpability, Wilcox cut to the heart of the matter.
Inflamed by Trump's incendiary words and the weeks the president has spent trying to undermine the results of November's presidential election, those who breached the nation's Capitol for the first time since 1814 are as exactly as Wilcox described them.
"Un-American," he said.
"It's hard to find words," Wilcox said. "It's certainly un-American to be hurting police, tearing down things at the Capitol, and carrying things off. And that's not really a word I use, because it gets so politically charged."
Wilcox was in Olympia on Wednesday, working with the House Republican Caucus, practicing floor action for the upcoming legislative session.
Wilcox said the first disturbing accounts and images he saw of what was transpiring in the other Washington — like militant men and women bearing MAGA hats and Confederate flags running roughshod over the nation's capitol — reached him via Twitter.
At 1:39 p.m., Wilcox responded to the violence and lawlessness with a tweet of his own, stating, "Political violence must end or our great country will end."
"We treasure freedom of speech and the best service we can render our country now is to be an example of effective discourse that rejects violence," Wilcox's tweet continued. "We can't let toleration of violence be part of our politics. Cast it out."
By the time Wilcox spoke to The News Tribune by phone, a woman who had been shot by U.S. Capitol Police was dead, tear gas and other tools were being used to clear the violent pro-Trump mob and the president himself had been suspended from Twitter.
Describing himself as "in disbelief" by the day's events, Wilcox said he was "disgusted that people can become so carried away that they think that's the way to express themselves politically."
"It's a disaster for them. It's a disaster for our country," Wilcox said. "What we've got to do is figure out a way to stop the spiral."
Asked about what responsibility President Trump bears for what transpired — which included vowing to "never concede" in a speech to supporters shortly before the Capitol perimeter was breached — Wilcox said he had spent his career deliberately avoiding commenting on national politics and "condemning violence on both sides."
While it's an answer that will understandably leave many unsatisfied, Wilcox did say that what he saw from Trump is not what leadership looks like.
"In moments of crisis, you have to send a single message, and that is, 'Stop what you're doing.' You can't turn things into politics," WIlcox said. "This chaos will destroy all of us. Nothing good comes out of it. That's the message that any leader should be sending."
As for members of his party, many of whom have often chosen to stay silent as Trump ramped up the rhetoric that fueled Wednesday's riot — or, worse, actively participated in the attempted coup — Wilcox said every lawmaker must "take responsibility ... for the things that we say and the things that we participate in."
"I think we should all have standards," WIlcox said.
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