This fall, our school studied the campaign of Congresswoman Nicole Malliotakis as part of a civics project. After the Capitol attack, it is our civic duty to call on her to resign.

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A majority of our student body was first introduced to Congresswoman Nicole Malliotakis and her political viewpoints through the school’s election simulation, a mock election meant to teach students about the annual big city, state, and federal elections. Select seniors adopt the character of different candidates while others take on different roles within simulated campaign teams, special interest groups, and media organizations. The objective is to learn interactively about the different campaigns that represent and impact New York as well as the different interest groups and political beliefs in our country. Beyond the different policies and political ideologies expressed by the candidates, a main feature of the election simulation is the emphasis placed on the civic process, from how candidates attempt to appeal to their peers through the power of voting and civil discourse (though, admittedly, more candy is involved in our simulated version).

To become informed citizens and voters, we were tasked to learn about Congresswoman Nicole Malliotakis, who was one of the eight candidates running this past November. By learning about her ideologies, supporters, and policies, we gained a deeper understanding of her and her campaign.

Though Malliotakis did not win our mock election, we could have never imagined that she would be one of the congressional representatives who objected to the results of the presidential election. The country, and her state, selected President Joe Biden as the 46th president of the United States in a free and fair election. As the one month anniversary of the attack approaches, I am still baffled that any political leader would so blatantly encourage such disunity and unpatriotism, contradicting the very democracy they had swore to uphold. 

Make no mistake: the raid on the Capitol was an act of domestic terrorism designed to coerce members of Congress into overturning the election by way of “strength” as Former President Donald Trump described it. Evidently, it will take greater strength and integrity to resolve what our leaders failed to do countless times in the past few months: protect the ethical standards and voice of our society. 

Just a day before the Capitol raid, Malliotakis described the challenges to the election results as “rooting out fraud,” despite the fact that no evidence of fraud exists. Over 60 legal challenges were thrown out of court (including the Supreme Court) and 50 secretaries of state had certified the results of their elections. Malliotakis encouraged and supported the foundations of the outrageous lie that Former President Trump’s clear loss was somehow fraudulent.

Following the attack, she even voted to overturn the results of two states that voted for President Biden. This past Thursday, she defended that decision in an embarrassingly unconvincing interview, stating that holding investigations would help ease the concerns of “tens of millions of Americans” who believe the election was stolen. However, those concerns only exist due to the abrasive rhetoric of the former president, and the support given by Malliotakis and her peers to his lies. It was those lies that sparked this shameful attack on our country.

Malliotakis’ fraudulent rhetoric combined with the choice to vote to undermine our democracy just hours after it was attacked was a violation of the oath of office. Only days before the riot, she swore to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic,” and “bear true faith and allegiance to the same” without “any mental reservation or purpose of evasion,” yet all these sacred principles were unquestionably transgressed. It was clear before the attack that this challenge to electoral votes and the absurd notion that Former Vice President Mike Pence (who was threatened to be hanged) could overturn the results was an effort to unlawfully invalidate an election and our democracy. This effort was made even clearer after the attack, and Malliotakis’ choice to continue voting in favor of that electoral challenge was a choice to support the terrorism that took place. Should these principles our leaders champion become empty words?

We take learning about elections seriously as a civic duty at Townsend Harris. Having followed Malliotakis’ election in school and witnessing her unwillingness to live up to her duties leading up to and after this crisis, it is now pivotal that we continue to fulfill our own duty and call for her to resign. Only then can the “healing” Malliotakis and her peers call for begin.

In writing this article, we find it daunting to call out our leaders, but this matter is too earnest and concerning to be ignored. Seeing this conflict on social media and the news every week, it is frustrating because plain and simple, regardless of their beliefs, those who continue to perpetuate the lies created by Former President Trump to attack the heart of our democracy are not fit for office.  

Not only will dismissing instigations of violence over simple truths set a bad precedent for our future, but the actions of these leaders, which have  real implications and influence, can and will alter the course of our country if left unaddressed. If we don’t push to condemn leaders who have brought forth and amplified this movement into a national conflict, we are sending a message that we condone these actions. Do we really want our indifference to be part of the reason why these unimaginable events or worse become reality?

As Townsend Harris students, we have promised to serve our society regardless of our background or beliefs and fulfill an oath to our school and society. In addition to promising that we will leave our city “greater than we found it,” we all swore to respect the wisdom of our laws and “resist anyone who destroys the laws or disobeys them.” There are times when that part of our oath might seem too conformist, appearing averse to civil disobedience and protest. However, Malliotakis and her party have shown that there are people who seek to destroy our laws. We have sworn an oath to resist those who would do this. Yes, there may be other politicians who have incited more obvious and greater damage in recent weeks. But it should be the duty of all Americans to hold accountable those close to home who have participated in the shame of what transpired in the months since the election. Calling on Nicole Malliotakis, the only representative from New York City to support this project to overturn our election, to resign is where Harrisites—and all New Yorkers—should start. 

Image by David Mark from Pixabay

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