Congress Loebsack Retiring

In this April 26, 2018 file photo, Rep. David Loebsack, D-Iowa, speaks during a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. Loebsack announced Friday, April 12, 2019 he won't seek re-election when his current term ends. Loebsack was elected seven times to represent southeast Iowa's 2nd Congressional District.

Sunday marked the first day of Dave Loebsack's retirement after seven terms in the U.S. House. On Wednesday, he watched from home as protestors violently overtook the storied Capitol building.

Loesback, an Iowa City Democrat who taught political science at Cornell College before becoming a congressman, likened Wednesday's violent protest to a coup d'etat.

"I used to teach about other countries, and took students to other countries, where this sort of activity happened all the time — or at least from time to time," Loebsack said. "And when you say coup, or a coup d'etat, you mean a forceful overthrow of the state. And that's really what this was today, an attempt at a coup."

As Loebsack watched from 700 miles away he said he believed behavior from President Donald Trump spurred the violence from protestors who carried Trump flags and wore Trump apparel.

"After having served [in the U.S. House] for 14 years, it's just hard to imagine that something like this could possibly happen here in the United States," Loebsack said. "And unfortunately, I think we just have to lay this at the feet of the President of the United States at this point."

Over the years, Washington has seen its fair share of protests, and violent protests. But Loebsack says nothing in modern America compares to what happened Wednesday.

"There's not been a storming of the Capitol like this, this is pretty much unprecedented," he said.

The protests came after weeks of rhetoric from Trump and his allies that the election he lost was fraudulent and stolen from him. The claims have been unfounded, and lawsuits have been thrown out of courtrooms across the country en masse — even when presented before Trump-appointed judges.

On Wednesday, the U.S. House and Senate gathered in joint session for what normally is a mundane approval of the electoral college vote, which would formally cement President-elect Joe Biden's win.

Several Republicans had vowed to challenge more than a handful of states under the false claims of election fraud in an effort all-but-certain to fail at changing the result.

Not all Republicans were on board, however. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, said Wednesday morning from the Senate floor that the election was over.

"The voters, the courts, and the states have all spoken," McConnell said. "If we overrule them all, it would damage our republic forever."

As protestors stormed into the Capitol building, the House and Senate were in separate sessions debating the first challenge of the day: Arizona.

Once peace is restored, Congress will need to return to session to finish that process. Loebsack is hopeful that many of the members challenging will see Wednesday's events as a reckoning and change course.

"They're not stupid people. They know that the cases they're bringing don't have merit," Loebsack said. "They know that."

Loebsack said their challenges are for "craven political reasons," and fears of future primary challenges or hopes they can win over support from Trump's base to further political aspirations.

"We need people who are in that body ... to have the courage to stand up and say, 'This is what this has led to, this is way beyond the pale,'" Loebsack said. "And I would like them to withdrawal whatever opposition they have ... and make this go as smoothly as we possibly can."

Kyle Ocker is the group editor of the Ottumwa Courier and the Oskaloosa Herald. He can be reached at kocker@ottumwacourier.com. Follow him on Twitter @Kyle_Ocker.

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Kyle Ocker is a Centerville native and award-winning multimedia journalist. Kyle is currently the first vice president of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council and vice president of the Iowa Print Sports Writers Association.

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