The GOP Cannot Be Trusted
12 Senators and 140 Representatives are expected to oppose the certification of Joe Biden’s electoral victory. Remember their names.
It won’t stop.
A popular vote margin of over 8 million votes, state election certifications, nearly 60 failed lawsuits, a dangerous — and dismissed — appeal to the Supreme Court, and the Electoral College vote. What do these things have in common? They all cemented Joe Biden as the clear and unambiguous President-elect in a national election that was, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, “the most secure in American history.”
But that’s not enough for many congressional Republicans. Some, like Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX), tried to sue Vice President Pence in order to compel him to count only certain electoral votes. Now, as of the writing of this piece, 12 Republican Senators and 140 Republican Representatives plan to make their final stand to block the certification of electors on January 6th.
Let’s be clear about what this is: sedition.
It’s sedition whether or not the congresspeople involved know it’s futile. The sedition is in the act, not the outcome. Attempting a murder and failing doesn’t absolve one of culpability, and neither does attempting to thrust a dagger into the heart of liberal democracy.
Consider the most innocent interpretation of these congresspeople’s actions: They know this is going to fail, which is the only reason they’re doing it. They’ll score brownie points with the Trump base and bear no responsibility for any real institutional damage. So what are we to take solace in here, that a substantial portion of the congressional Republican caucus is cynical, despotic, and ambitious for the sake of advancing their political careers? That they’re feckless and unable to stand up against the worst sentiments of their base, even if that means embracing widely debunked conspiracy theories and willing to upend constitutionally-enshrined processes?
That’s not reassuring. That’s disqualifying.
Now, consider the more sinister interpretation, that these congresspeople believe sincerely, with or without evidence, that the election was stolen from Donald Trump — and only Donald Trump — in a coordinated effort to take him down once and for all. (Of course, that is what happened. It’s called campaigning. It’s called organizing. It’s called voting. But I’m sure they believe it to be something more conspiratorial than that.)
If in fact this belief is sincerely held, and they would be going through with this plan no matter what, then the sobering reality is that the only guardrail against this disingenuous coup is an 11-member majority in the House of Representatives.
Rejecting a state’s electors requires a majority in both houses of Congress, and it’s true that there are not yet enough GOP Senators for a majority. However, we have seen GOP elected leaders abandon their principles time and time again to save face before Donald Trump and his rabid base. Given how quickly the house GOP caucus has fallen, the only guarantee here is that no Democrat will vote to reject a state’s electors.
Ted Cruz came into Congress on the heels of the Tea Party movement — a conservative, small government coalition advocating for issues like state’s rights. In the past 8 weeks, members of that same caucus have backed lawsuits where one state tried to dictate how four other states conducted their elections. Members of a party that stood for individual liberty and self-governance are now cramming their will down your throat because they didn’t like the outcome of the election. They know what they’re doing, and (almost) all of them know better.
There is no analog to this in modern American political history. And no, the objections in the 2000 election don’t even come close. There, 20 House Democrats objected, standing alone because no Democrat Senators chose to back their objections. Vice President Gore, presiding over the counting of electors, ruled these objections out of order. The party infrastructure was firmly against entertaining a last-ditch effort to overturn a heavily-litigated election, as a party infrastructure is supposed to do.
No, the closest analog we have to this is the 1876 election, where southern Democrats, fiercely against reconstruction, engaged in widespread voter intimidation tactics against Republican voters and legitimate electoral fraud. The most egregious example was in South Carolina, where the state reported a 101% voter turnout rate. This led to chaos in both the electoral college vote and congressional certification, eventually leading to the infamous Compromise of 1877, where Republican Rutherford B. Hayes was sworn in as President in exchange for removing all federal troops from the south, effectively ending reconstruction. This is the company the modern GOP keeps.
We are left with the unfortunate reality that the GOP in its current form can no longer be trusted with power. We have seen how securely they are under Donald Trump’s thumb, how easily they will bend to their base’s fascistic instincts, how they value political expediency — whether to save their careers or bolster their ambitions — over the survival of the American experiment. GOP leadership refuses to swiftly shut down these anti-democratic efforts. As a result, “good” members of the GOP, i.e. those who won’t actively erode liberal democracy, hold little power in the Republican party infrastructure. We cannot rely on them to be a sufficient bulwark against the worst of their party. We cannot trust GOP congressional candidates who claim to be “reasonable” or “anti-Trump,” because as of now, a larger portion of the Republican party has embraced autocracy. If both houses of Congress end up in Republican control, there are no limits to the damage that could be done. Simply put, in our current two-party system, one party is firmly pro-democracy and the other is not.
Below is the list of all members of Congress who, at the time of this piece’s publication, are expected to object to the certification of Presidential electors. Realize that all House members and many Senators were elected on the same ballots as Joe Biden. By contesting Joe Biden’s victory, they are contesting their own elections, their own legitimacy as public servants. These members of Congress do not deserve to hold elected office. Remember these names if any choose to run for President on a Republican ticket. And most importantly, until all of these members are removed from power, the GOP is a party that cannot be trusted:
Senators: Josh Hawley (Mo.), Marsha Blackburn (Tenn.), Mike Braun (Ind.), Ted Cruz (Texas), Steve Daines (Mont.), Ron Johnson (Wis.), John Kennedy (La.), James Lankford (Okla.), Bill Hagerty (Tenn.), Cynthia Lummis (Wyo.), Roger Marshall (Kan.), Tommy Tuberville (Ala.).
House Members: While over 140 house members are expected to object to the electoral certification on January 6th, a full list of those who plan to object has not yet been made public. Below are the 126 Representatives who filed amicus briefs in support of the Texas lawsuit to overturn election results in four other states:
Robert B. Aderholt
Mike D. Rogers
A. Drew Ferguson
Darin M. LaHood
Jefferson Van Drew
Robert E. Latta
Michael C. Burgess
K. Michael Conaway
Robert J. Wittman
Cathy McMorris Rodgers