For starters, a number of Republicans have joined Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) in denouncing the attempted coup. Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), in a written statement, declared that “after two months of recounts and legal challenges, not a single state recount changed a result and, of the dozens of lawsuits filed, not one found evidence of fraud or irregularities widespread enough to change the result of the election.” Portman, therefore, concluded: “Over the course of my public service career, I have taken the same oath on numerous occasions, swearing to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States. I plan on honoring that oath by supporting the state certifications and the will of the people. I will vote to certify in accordance with my duty under the Constitution.” Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), one of the Senate’s most conservative members, will also decline to join the mob.
Meanwhile, in Georgia, we got an earful from Republican officials outraged by President Trump’s attempt to strong-arm Brad Raffensperger, Georgia’s secretary of state, into changing vote totals there. Gabriel Sterling, a Republican election official who previously denounced attempts to change the state’s results and threats made against public officials, spoke on behalf of sane Americans. “I wanted to scream,” he said of Trump’s call with Raffensperger, during a news conference on Monday.
“There are people in positions of authority and respect who have said their votes didn’t count, and it’s not true,” Sterling declared. “It’s Whac-A-Mole again. It is Groundhog Day again. I’m going to talk about the things I’ve talked about repeatedly for two months, but I’m going to do it for one last time,” he said.
Sterling provided a thorough debunking of the conspiracy theories Trump and his lackeys are pushing. The bottom line, he reiterated: “This is all easily, provably false. And yet the president persists.” As do his Dirty Dozen co-conspirators.
Raffensperger also denounced the attempt to force him to fabricate the results. He told CBS News: “We get complaints all the time. We investigate those. But we looked at their data. Their data is not correct. And we can go down that line point by point and show what our data shows.” Raffensperger also revealed that he was not planning to release the tape of the call with Trump, but then Trump lied about it on Twitter. Once again, Trump is his own worst enemy. In any event, Raffensperger said, “I know what we’re going to do. We’re going to follow the law. We’re going to follow the process.”
Meanwhile, big business came down on the side of “elections matter.” The Business Roundtable, made up executives from the country’s largest companies, put out a statement: “There is no authority for Congress to reject or overturn electoral votes lawfully certified by the states and affirmed by the Electoral College. . . . Business Roundtable opposes efforts to delay or overturn the clear outcome of the election.” A similar letter was signed by a group of 200 executives, who wrote: “This presidential election has been decided and it is time for the country to move forward. . . . Attempts to thwart or delay this process run counter to the essential tenets of our democracy.” Now, these business leaders need to remember the politicians who sought to overthrow our democracy when they start handing out campaign donations.
Hawley and Cruz, both likely harboring presidential ambitions, blew it. They apparently figured they would raise a fuss, and that the others would go along. Did they not anticipate that some of their colleagues would rediscover their oaths of office — or at least be bright enough to surmise that sedition could block the path to higher office? There is something fitting that two supremely ambitious men may have doomed their own quest for the presidency through an act of unbridled cynicism and contempt for democracy.
In any event, perhaps we have reached the best point for the Republican Party to divide in two. On one side are supporters of an authoritarian putsch. On the other is everyone else. The latter have plenty to do to come up with rational policy ideas, but at least they are not traitors to democracy.