These 126 hyper-partisan politicians should now be known as members of the autocrat caucus. From Louisiana Rep. Ralph Abraham to New York Rep. Lee Zeldin, they added their names
to this infamous list in a desperate attempt to overturn the election in four swing states won by Joe Biden. They decided to attack democracy itself when the results did not go their way.
Don’t be fooled by whatever ornate excuses they make. This was not an attempt to find new evidence or even more absurdly “defend the constitution”.
It was objectively the opposite. Perhaps some of these 126 believed this a way to raise money from the base, insurance against a difficult partisan primary, or more to the point, insurance against an uncomfortable tweet from President Donald Trump. They surrendered their conscience and common sense because of fear and greed. Rarely have so many sold out their country for so little.
These chose to support a case based on false claims
and lack of evidence. And it’s particularly pathetic to see them do it for a weak and insecure lame duck President Trump, a would-be autocrat who’s driving this nation to some kind of desperate reckoning based on nothing more than his own psychological inability to deal with the fact he lost an election and lost the ability to recognize reality as well. In most cases, that would be dismissed as a sad form of sickness that’s incompatible with the power of the presidency, but these folks chose to trade their integrity to support Trump’s delusion all the way up to the Supreme Court.
They followed the lead of the indicted Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a man who has been accused by his closest aides
of bribery and abuse of power.
As conservative columnist Jonah Goldberg wrote
with moral clarity in the Dispatch: “It is an act of cynical, unpatriotic, undemocratic hypocrisy unrivaled in American history, a pure power play on behalf of a president whose disregard for the very Constitution these people have long claimed to adore is total. It is shameful. Infuriatingly shameful.” History will judge them as cowards and villains.
It should not be considered a profile in courage to oppose efforts to overturn a free and fair election. But the 70 congressional Republicans — like Illinois Rep Adam Kinzinger, who had the courage to speak up
for our democracy against partisan pressure — should be honored as patriots.
If you’re still not convinced, ask yourself how these 126 would act if a Democratic president made the same claims as Trump. Would any of them support or sympathize as a matter of principle? Of course not. They would denounce a Democrat who did this as a would-be tyrant. That’s the big reveal: for them everything is secondary to partisanship and power. But the fact that no one is even trying to do this basic moral exercise rooted in the Golden Rule — treat others as you would like to be treated — speaks volumes about how we got here as a country.
It is the result of a long process of feeding hyper-partisanship for short-term political gain. It’s a result of the war that Republicans have been waging against majority rule
and demonizing Democrats as a way to justify any extreme actions they take.
A July 2020 study
by Vanderbilt Professor Larry Bartels came to the disturbing conclusion that “substantial numbers of Republicans endorse statements contemplating violations of key democratic norms, including respect for the law and for the outcomes of elections and eschewing the use of force in pursuit of political ends.”
That is exactly what we’ve been seeing in the five weeks since the election, not just in the over 30 failed court cases from Trump and his backers
but in the escalation of death threats
to election officials – many of them Republicans — and the Arizona GOP’s recent tweet asking if followers would be willing to die
in the effort to overturn the election results while the head of the Texas GOP threatened secession.
When the GOP majority leader of the Pennsylvania state senate, Kim Ward was told about the congressional letter and asked if she would sign it, she explained to the New York Times, “If I would say to you, ‘I don’t want to do it,’ I’d get my house bombed tonight.”
This is not America. Or rather, it is Trump’s America.
The creation of the autocrat caucus provides a bright dividing line. Good people can, of course, disagree about politics. But we are way beyond politics when it comes to an attempt to overturn an election without any credible evidence. The autocrat-inclined are not strong, but weak. They back authoritarian personalities and demonize dissent in the name of tribal loyalty. They have repudiated the legacy of Lincoln,
who led our nation through a civil war to advance the principle that government “of the people, for the people and by the people shall not perish from the earth.”
Remember the names
of the 126 members of the autocrat caucus. They cannot pretend to be patriots if they’re willing to overturn democracy — because they have just repudiated the thing that really makes America great.