The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion Josh Hawley reminds us that the GOP is the sedition party

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) at the Capitol last January. (Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images)

The Republican Party yet again provides us with reason for its own demise. The Post reports: “Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) announced Wednesday that he would object next week when Congress convenes to certify the electoral college vote, a move that will force a contentious floor debate that top Senate Republicans had hoped to avoid before President-elect Joe Biden’s victory is cemented.” There is no irregularity or evidence of fraud that justifies this move. It is pandering to a party’s base which has lost touch with reality and fidelity to our Constitution.

Like the 126 Republican House members who signed on to a lawsuit to throw out votes of states that voted for President-elect Joe Biden, Hawley has joined the authoritarian right-wingers who openly seek to overthrow the results of an election he does not like. He is a reminder to voters in Georgia of why allowing Hawley’s party to retain its Senate majority puts our democracy (not to mention our financial security and health) at risk.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro called the lawsuit “seditious abuse.” That’s an apt description for Hawley’s latest move. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) accurately explained that Hawley is “engaged in the attempted overthrow of democracy.” Whatever you call it — sedition, a coup, an anti-democratic putsch — Hawley’s move violates his oath of office. Not that it will do much good, but he should face an ethics charge and a demand for expulsion (which would require a two-thirds vote, pursuant to the Constitution).

It is fitting that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and the rest of the Republican enablers should be humiliated by this display of disloyalty and compelled to vote any objection down. At any point over the last four years — during President Trump’s impeachment trial, for example — Republicans could have stood up to a lawless president. There has been ample evidence of Trump’s unconstitutional conduct and mental unfitness to serve. Even if they vote down Hawley’s objection, they are responsible for turning their party into an authoritarian movement and making America look like a banana republic in the eyes of the world.

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What is particularly reprehensible about Hawley’s move is that, unlike some of the deluded House members who signed onto the lawsuit, he knows his complaint is groundless. He is a graduate of Yale Law School, the former attorney general of Missouri and a law professor at the University of Missouri School of Law. He clerked for Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and subsequently wrote Supreme Court briefs. He knows that what he is doing is antithetical to the Constitution, his oath of office and his obligations as a lawyer. Yale should ask for its diploma back; the Missouri bar should move to take away his license. Georgia voters should send Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock to the U.S. Senate to deprive Hawley of the gavel on any committee and his party of the majority.

Whenever the MAGA set whines over someone calling for the Republican Party’s demise or keeping track of the politicians who betrayed our democracy, one need only point to the fleet of prominent Republicans who have demonstrated their contempt for democracy. This includes Hawley; the 18 state attorneys general who filed suit to overturn the election; Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who volunteered to argue that lawsuit before the Supreme Court; and the 126 House members who supported that lawsuit. A party that celebrates such characters is unworthy of holding power; the people who have rushed to incinerate our democracy deserve not merely to be thrown out of office, but to be shunned by patriotic Americans.

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