Julie McDonald Commentary: Leadership Requires Courage of Convictions


Our normally low-key Third U.S. Congressional District Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler stepped into the international spotlight Saturday as debate centered on whether to call her as a witness in the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump. 

She broke ranks with a majority of her fellow Republicans last month in voting to impeach the former president after the violent Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol designed to interrupt the Electoral College certification of the national presidential election.

“The president of the United States incited a riot aiming to halt the peaceful transfer of power from one administration to the next,” she said then.

It took courage for her and nine other Republicans to put the future of the nation above loyalty to their political party and speak the truth about Trump’s two-month campaign to undermine the Nov. 3 election by calling it “stolen.” His baseless accusations fueled anger against Democrats and even Republicans like elections officials in Georgia who dared to uphold their oaths of office.

Headlines last week focused on Herrera Beutler’s account of an exchange between GOP House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and President Trump as a violent and angry mob busted windows, beat Capitol police officers, ransacked the Capitol and searched for the vice president while chanting “Hang Mike Pence.” 

She said McCarthy told her he called the president during the insurrection and pleaded with him to go on television and publicly “call off the riot,” but Trump purportedly responded, “Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are.”


No wonder Herrera Beutler voted to impeach. At least her testimony was read into the record.

Last week, she asked “patriots,” her congressional colleagues and fellow Republicans who were with the president as he watched television coverage of the insurrection, to speak the truth as she had.

Unfortunately, most Republicans cared more about holding onto their jobs and feared angering Trump. And some of those who did speak still lacked the courage of their convictions by failing to act in accordance with their words.

Like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell who voted to acquit Trump while saying the rioters were “fed wild falsehoods by the most powerful man on Earth. Because he was angry he’d lost an election.”

“Former President Trump’s actions that preceded the riot were a disgraceful, disgraceful dereliction of duty,” McConnell said. “Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day.”

Yet he used a questionable technicality as an excuse to not hold the former president accountable for his actions, which led to the first physical attack on our Capitol since 1812.

However, seven Republican senators joined the 50 Democrats in voting to impeach Trump for inciting violence that led to the attack on the Capitol. But they needed 67 to convict.

I hope and pray Herrera Beutler, 42, is the future of the Republican Party rather than people like U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, 46, of Georgia, who has touted disproven QAnon, 9/11 and anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, made racist videos and comments, and supported Trump’s stolen election mantra. The Republican Party should disavow any ties to neo-Nazis, white supremacists, QAnon conspiracy theorists, and those who undermine our democracy by falsely claiming the election was stolen.

For my Christian friends, the Bible offers wisdom applicable today. Proverbs 12:26 says “The righteous should choose their friends carefully, for the way of the wicked leads them astray.” And 1 Corinthians 15:33 says, “Do not be deceived: Bad company ruins good morals.” 

Trump supporters have already sought challengers to Herrera Beutler in the 2022 election, but I will never vote for anyone who condones what happened Jan. 6 or condemns Herrera Beutler for having the courage of her convictions in voting to uphold and protect the integrity of our nation’s democracy and constitution.

Rep. Jamie Herrera Beutler has the fortitude to buck her political party and its members when they are wrong. Good for her.


Kudos to PUD Crews

Thank you to all the Lewis County road crews and PUD line workers who spent late last week in the frigid temperatures clearing roads and restoring electricity to residents after our unusually heavy snowfall.

When we lost power after midnight Friday, I decided it must be time to go to bed. However, our electricity was restored within a half hour. 

Before the election, Trump supporters claimed America as we know it would disappear if a Democrat was elected president and brought in socialism. Those same people are probably happy the PUD restored their power, yet a friend’s Facebook post reminded me scare tactics about socialism were also used in the 1930s by people who opposed creating public utility districts.

A majority of voters in our state in 1930 favored an initiative allowing formation of PUDs. In 1936, the Rural Electrification Act provided federal loans for installing electrical lines to isolated rural areas, which wasn’t cost-effective for private power companies. We are the beneficiaries of their forward thinking. 

Now state lawmakers are debating whether to allow PUDs to provide high-speed internet to rural areas where doing so would be cost-prohibitive for commercial providers. Is that socialism? Probably. But do I believe people in Randle, Packwood, Pe Ell, and Winlock deserve access to high-speed internet? Yes. 

As Port of Chehalis CEO Randy Mueller said, “If it ever made sense for the private sector to serve those areas, if there was a profit to be made, we all know they would have gone and made that profit by now.”

If the free market won’t provide it, the PUDs should.


Julie McDonald, a personal historian from Toledo, may be reached at memoirs@chaptersoflife.com.