With the words “I just want to find 11,780 votes” ringing in our ears — President Trump’s demand of Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, approved by North Carolina’s Mark Meadows, Trump’s current chief of staff — the drama of 2020 unfortunately is leaking into the new year.
But while that one soaks, other Republican operatives are still trying to overturn the presidential election — or at least look like they are.
As we write, a dozen Republican senators now say they’ll contest the certification of Electoral College votes on Wednesday. This is usually a routine matter — essentially, the states report their election results to Congress, which records them.
But it seems nothing is too routine for Republican lunacy these days.
Sen. Josh Hawley was the first to say he’d object to the certification and vote against accepting the results — despite strong discouragement from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
But Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is trying to stake his claim, too. He’s leading a group of senators who don’t just plan to object to the certification — they’re demanding the creation of a commission to investigate claims of voter fraud.
The demand has a veneer of reasonableness to it. "Why not hold a commission to examine the facts?" Cruz asked.
The answer is more reasonable still: Because the facts have already been examined. All the Republican-contested states — Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — have conducted post-election audits, open to the public. A series of judges, some appointed by Trump, have rejected nearly 60 attempts to challenge the results. Why should we believe that one more examination would settle matters for Cruz?
Many Democrats have responded to the scheme with words like “coup” and “sedition.”
But one needn’t listen to a Democrat. Listen instead to the Republicans:
- “The president and his allies are playing with fire. They have been asking — first the courts, then state legislatures, now the Congress — to overturn the results of a presidential election. ... If you make big claims, you had better have the evidence. But the president doesn’t, and neither do the institutional arsonist members of Congress who will object to the Electoral College vote.” — Sen. Ben Sasse
- "A fundamental, defining feature of a democratic republic is the right of the people to elect their own leaders. The effort by Senators Hawley, Cruz, and others to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in swing states like Pennsylvania directly undermines this right." — Sen. Pat Toomey
- "It is difficult to conceive of a more anti-democratic and anti-conservative act than a federal intervention to overturn the results of state-certified elections." — former House Speaker Paul Ryan
Their conclusions have been echoed by former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele; Sens. Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins and Mitt Romney; Rep. Liz Cheney and many other conservative stalwarts.
As we go to press, North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr has indicated that he will not join the overthrow effort. Sen. Thom Tillis hasn’t spoken to the matter.
These efforts are very unlikely to change anything — at worst, they could delay a final vote. Many see this as an attempt on the part of both Cruz and Hawley to appeal to Trump’s base in preparation for presidential bids in 2024.
Some will no doubt consider Cruz and Hawley to be some type of “never say die” patriots while their calmer Republican colleagues are RINOs — Republicans in Name Only. But very soon Republicans are going to have to decide who the real RINOs are: those who respect conservative principles and American traditions — or the conspiracy-loving opportunists who feed the flames of grievance and deceit for political gain.