It’s unfortunate that some of North Carolina’s Republican legislators were playing along with President Trump’s runaway claims of a stolen election by voting against accepting the Electoral College results on Jan. 6. It was a cynical ploy with no chance of success, but it sure did encourage the president’s base. And it fanned the flames for the deadly insurrection that occurred that day.

Of our 13 district representatives, eight are Republicans and seven of them voted against accepting the certification in at least one of two incidents. In some cases, they did so even after they were chased from their chamber by extremists.

They include Dan Bishop, Ted Budd, Madison Cawthorn, Richard Hudson, David Rouzer, Virginia Foxx and Greg Murphy.

Patrick McHenry of the 10th Congressional District, which includes part of Forsyth County, was the only Republican to refrain.

The majority of the N.C. delegation argued that their objections were justified by public mistrust of the election results. But some of them, like Cawthorn, had been hard at work increasing that mistrust. Cawthorn followed Trump’s lead by calling the election “rigged,” “flawed” and “a fraud.” This, despite ample opportunities for Trump’s claims to be investigated and aired in courts — and despite continued debunking by officials in his own party.

It’s not likely our representatives thought the day’s protests would result in violence. They couldn’t have anticipated that one insurgent would carry a Confederate flag through the Capitol halls, or that several would build a gallows with a noose. And they couldn’t have known that the rioters would beat a police officer, or leave the deaths of five people in their wake.

On the other hand, they’d observed President Trump and his cult-like followers, many of them their own constituents, for years. They knew that Trump had instigated violence in other settings. And they knew that his claims of voter fraud were phony.

They simply should have known and acted better.

Some have tried to distract from the Republicans’ obstruction with the cry, “The Democrats did it, too.”

And their challenges were quickly slapped down by congressional leadership, including, in 2016, then-Vice President Joe Biden. These were minor blips among noisier issues.

And they weren’t performed against the backdrop of a presidential attempt to overthrow a democratic election.

These representatives should definitely face consequences from their constituents — especially those who are tired of being lied to.

Some Republicans who objected to the certification, like Sen. Ted Cruz, now say that removing the president would be too divisive. They’re pleading for national unity.

They apparently didn’t think that undermining a presidential election and encouraging a rowdy, dangerous mob would be divisive.

As we write, the U.S. House is voting to impeach the president again. There are still slim-to-none chances that Trump could resign or his Cabinet might employ the 25th Amendment against him. One way or another, a president who has instigated a violent mob to try to overthrow an election, resulting in death, must be removed before he has the opportunity to do worse.

If they’re truly interested in unity, here’s what Republican legislators, individually, could do today:

Cooperate with efforts to remove Trump from office — and no grousing about it. It’s necessary.

Put out a statement congratulating President-elect Joe Biden on his historic win while strongly repudiating claims of a stolen election.

Pledge to work with Biden as closely as they can for the betterment of the country.

Today’s editorial is from The Winston Salem-Journal and The Greensboro News & Record. The views expressed are not necessarily those of this newspaper.