Hey, Look! Republicans Who Might Almost Believe In Democracy!
The Republican Coup-Fest 2021 began with Missouri GOP Senator Josh Hawley announcing like a nerd that he'd object to the Electoral College certification process on January 6 for reasons that are either unlawful or stupid. This was an obvious play for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination, as well as a broadside against Ted Cruz, who is normally the Senate's biggest GOP asshole diva. (Rand Paul is perpetual first runner up.)
Cruz assembled his own Senate Dirty Dozen and released a statement Saturday declaring that these seditious clowns would object to Joe Biden's win unless there was an emergency 10-day audit of the election Donald Trump lost decisively. Cruz's crew includes four senators-elect who won their seats on the same supposedly fraudulent ballot as Biden.
For those of you fortunate enough to have been unconscious since November 7, when the election was called for Biden, the Trump campaign has filed multiple absurd suits challenging the obvious, and they've lost all of them. Yet, Cruz is concerned that Americans, by which he means Trump voters, don't trust the election results because Trump, with a willing assist from rightwing media, has personally spread lies and baseless conspiracy theories.
Cruz claims Biden supporters and the media are dismissing “serious allegations of voter fraud" out of hand, but Trump's cronies have produced no tangible evidence of voter fraud, just a few fuzzy pictures of Bigfoot voting twice in Nevada.
This last-minute attempt to overturn a free and fair election and keep a gibbering lunatic in power will fail, but not just because Democrats control the House. Not every Republican is going along with the coup and some have even released scathing statements attacking the stunt.
Nebraska GOP Senator Ben Sasse was the first to condemn Hawley's plans. In a Facebook post Wednesday, Sasse called out his colleagues as hypocrites who knew full well there was no evidence of voter fraud but were “playing with fire" to keep Trump happy.
Let's be clear what is happening here: We have a bunch of ambitious politicians who think there's a quick way to tap into the president's populist base without doing any real, long-term damage. But they're wrong — and this issue is bigger than anyone's personal ambitions. Adults don't point a loaded gun at the heart of legitimate self-government.
Pennsylvania GOP Senator Pat Toomey was especially pissed that Hawley, Cruz, and the rest were attempting to disenfranchise voters from his own state. He not only rejected their plot but he called them out by name (note, this is rare among Republican senators who aren't asshole divas like Cruz and Hawley.)
A fundamental, defining feature of a democratic republic is the right of the people to elect their own leaders. The effort by Sens. Hawley, Cruz, and others to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in swing states like Pennsylvania directly undermines this right.
The senators justify their intent by observing that there have been many allegations of fraud. But allegations of fraud by a losing campaign cannot justify overturning an election.
They fail to acknowledge that these allegations have been adjudicated in courtrooms across America and were found to be unsupported by evidence.
President Trump's own Attorney General, Bill Barr, stated 'we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.'
I acknowledge that this past election, like all elections, had irregularities. But the evidence is overwhelming that Joe Biden won this election.
Hawley whined like a spoiled little brat because Toomey dared criticize his undemocratic actions, but the spankings weren't over yet. Utah GOP Senator Mitt Romney, perhaps the last Republican presidential candidate to willingly concede, also slammed the “egregious ploy to reject electors." This was more than just a policy difference.
My fellow Senator Ted Cruz and the co-signers of his statement argue that rejection of electors or an election audit directed by Congress would restore trust in the election. Nonsense. This argument ignores the widely perceived reality that Congress is an overwhelmingly partisan body; the American people wisely place greater trust in the federal courts where judges serve for life. Members of Congress who would substitute their own partisan judgement for that of the courts do not enhance public trust, they imperil it.
He also noted how Trump was encouraging a mass “protest" on January 6 that "has the predictable potential to lead to disruption, and worse."
I could never have imagined seeing these things in the greatest democracy in the world. Has ambition so eclipsed principle?
Romney, Maine GOP Senator Susan Collins, and Alaska GOP Senator Lisa Murkowski signed a joint, bipartisan statement in support of Congress actually fulfilling its constitutional duty. Their statement also makes clear that Cruz and Hawley's attention-grabbing routine is pointless. There aren't enough votes in either the the House or Senate to prevent Trump's eviction from the White House.
South Carolina GOP Senator Lindsey Graham said Sunday that he was willing to "listen" to the Dirty Dozen's objections but they would need to provide "clear and convincing evidence" of fraud, which is impossible because none exists. He's setting these dummies up to fail, which is classic Lindsey.
A joint bipartisan statement rejecting the effort to reject Biden electors includes these Republican signatories:… https://t.co/lXWTgBiMQA— Sahil Kapur (@Sahil Kapur)1609703612.0
I will not oppose the counting of certified electoral votes on January 6. I'm grateful for what the president accomplished over the past four years, which is why I campaigned vigorously for his reelection. But objecting to certified electoral votes won't give him a second term—it will only embolden those Democrats who want to erode further our system of constitutional government.
Over in the House of Representatives, where at least 140 Republican members are expected to reject democracy, Liz Cheney, the GOP conference chair, also torched the coup attempt in a memo to her caucus. She stated that these "objections set an exceptionally dangerous precedent, threatening to steal states' explicit constitutional responsibility for choosing the POTUS and bestowing it instead on Congress. This is directly at odds with the Constitution's clear text and our core beliefs as Republicans."
(If Republicans had any “core beliefs" other than amassing power, they'd have never enabled Trump for this long.)
Republican House Rep. Chip Roy of Texas also remained morally consistent, even if I disagree with most of his positions. He holds firm that states determine election,s not Congress. Sunday, he challenged the seating of House delegations from Arizona, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Nevada, and Georgia, forcing Republicans to go on record as stating those elections were legitimate. That won't stop most Republicans from simultaneously claiming Biden's victory was somehow fraudulent, but it underscores how full of crap they are.
Former House Speaker Paul Ryan released a statement yesterday denouncing what he called an “anti-democratic and anti-conservative" effort to block certification.
Paul Ryan, who has commented sparingly since leaving office, with a clear denunciation of senate and house efforts… https://t.co/mz3L3csoX1— Maggie Haberman (@Maggie Haberman)1609705380.0
Ryan reiterated that Trump has had his many, many days in court and was unable to prove fraud existed.
Trump's malicious vanity wouldn't permit Republicans to move on and simply unite in opposition against a Biden administration. Instead, just weeks before Biden takes office, Trump has fractured the party into a pro-Trump-at-all-costs faction and one that still wants to stick it to poor people but would rather not set the Constitution on fire or start another Civil War.
The New York Times will probably never print a “GOP in disarray" story, but that's what we're witnessing. It couldn't have happened to a worse group of people.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle. Tickets are on sale now for his latest Nordo collaboration, "Curiouser and Curiouser," an adaptation of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass." It promises to feel like an actual evening with SER (for good or for ill).