In the Trump era, it helps to have a list of the latter, not for any nefarious reason but simply to keep track of those whose who opposed Trump’s illegal antics and those who did not. We’ll need to know who compulsively lied to the public about non-existent “voter fraud” and who played it straight. (You’ll excuse my cynicism if in later years, some squirrelly Republicans claim to have been on the side of the angels.)
Fortunately, the most egregious political actors did my work for me: They made their own lists. There is the list of 17 state attorneys general who joined Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s preposterous lawsuit seeking to throw out the electoral votes of other states, which Pennsylvania’s brief in opposition to the lawsuit brilliantly dubbed “seditious abuse of the judicial process." The suit would be enough to make authoritarian Venezuelan leader Nicolás Maduro or Belarusian strongman Alexander Lukashenko blush.
There is also the list of more than 100 House Republicans who, contrary to their oaths of office, cheered the lawsuit demanding the voters’ will be overthrown and their cult leader installed in office. And there is Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) on a list of one: a lawyer eager to argue this monstrosity in front of the Supreme Court.
There is a different list, albeit an itty-bitty one. This is the list of Republicans who strongly object to overturning the result of an election, such as Sens. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania (who called those efforts “completely unacceptable”) and Ben Sasse of Nebraska (who pointed to the pending criminal charges against Paxton and said, "It looks like a fella begging for a pardon filed a PR stunt”). Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) tried to sneak his way onto this list by claiming to be confused about the legal principle. He is not confused; he is too cowardly to denounce Trump and the anti-democratic coup.
Given that it is both easy and essential to defend an democratic election from a thuggish attempt to throw out votes and that President Trump now concedes he wants the election “overturned,” it is fair to add the silent Republicans in the House and Senate to the list of shame. They simply are more timid than their 100-plus colleagues and the attorneys general in fessing up to their contempt for democracy.
We have gone way beyond Republicans plugging their ears and averting their eyes over the latest racist remark from the president and even beyond their pretending that there was insufficient evidence to impeach Trump. By affirmation or silence, the vast majority of the Republican political class in Washington, D.C., is telling 80 million Americans that their votes do not matter and democracy is for suckers.
This sure does make political decision-making easy for voters in Georgia ahead of the two Senate runoff elections. Do they vote for two candidates who might be able to pass some minimal reform (or at least, the reforms that could get by West Virginia’s moderate Sen. Joe Manchin)? Or do they vote for the two candidates who renounce democracy? Seems like an awfully straight-forward call.
Never-Trump maven William Kristol nicely sums up the state of politics:
I’m doubtful that a 50-50 Democratic Senate, alongside a narrow Democratic House majority and a Democratic president who is neither Bernie Sanders nor Elizabeth Warren, would confirm that many more left-wingers or pass appreciably more radical legislation than the same configuration, but with a 52-48 Republican Senate. . . .What we do know is that Georgia’s Republican Senators, Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, are all in on Donald Trump’s reckless and dangerous attempt to nullify the 2020 presidential election and to delegitimize the Biden presidency.
The answer to the query about the runoff races, even for those hysterical about Manchin-friendly legislation, is self-evident. “If it’s important for the country that the damage from Trump’s attempt at delegitimizing the presidential election be minimized," Kristol writes "then surely it’s important his enablers pay a price for supporting such a threat to the health of our liberal democracy.”
In 2022 or 2024 or beyond, voters need only ask one question: Is the candidate on one of these “seditious” lists? If so, vote for the other one. Seeking to overthrow an election to install a habitual liar is not the sort of dastardly act that comes with a statute of limitations. Supporting Trump is a political stain that cannot be wiped away for a party or an individual politician. Ever.
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