Well, at least we know who the phoniest people in Washington are now
- Today dozens of Republicans lawmakers in Congress will attempt a stunt vote that will briefly stall — but not stop — the congressional ceremony to confirm Joe Biden's presidency.
- This is a disgraceful affront to democratic principles and the US Constitution.
- But at the very least it makes it that much easier to spot who the phoniest politicians in Washington are.
- This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.
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Today 13 US Senators and as many as 140 lawmakers in the House of Representatives, all from the Republican party, plan to vote to subvert democracy and delay confirmation of Joe Biden's presidential victory.
This is a stunt, it is a disgrace, it is contrary to the principles on which this country was founded. But at least it is instructive. President Donald Trump's refusal to accept that he lost the White House has forced the most servile of his acolytes to stand proudly in their unscrupulousness in an effort to capture the attention of his base. So in the last week or so it has become that much more clear to see who — in a town known for its phonies — is the absolute phoniest.
Any politician who told you we need to have an "emergency audit" to investigate a lie they've been helping Trump tell for months now is a phony.
Anyone who tried to tell you that Congress can ultimately decide who is president today — against the American people's wishes and the Electoral College results — is a phony.
Anyone running around filing lawsuits that make state and federal judges around the country laugh: phony. Anyone pressuring or threatening state governments to change vote counts: phony. Anyone getting on Fox News saying that this stunt of a vote is in any way fighting for America: phony.
Trump has done precious little for this country, but one good thing he did was draw a line in the sand. He has told Republicans that they either stand with him, or they stand with the Constitution. In forcing the most craven people on Capitol Hill to reveal themselves he's tested this country's ability to recognize a fraud. And for that, we thank him.
For a lot of Americans, Trump's scam on democracy was clear from the beginning, so what's happening right now isn't shocking. His petulant attempts to cling to power are simply the natural consequence of having someone without morals in the White House.
But for other Americans, this vote is a new low. Even after years of watching him attempt to destroy the values and norms of our system of government, these people thought Trump would go away once he lost. These are generally people who have clung so hard to the myth that there's in an innate strength in our democracy that they have been wrong about everything over the last five years. Hopefully this is a clarifying moment for them. Nothing about democracy's success is innate. It is a difficult, imperfect practice, even for the US.
Other Americans surprised in this moment genuinely thought Trump had convinced himself that the election had been stolen from him. These people thought Trump's conspiracy theories were the result of narcissistic self-delusion, not opportunism. His call with Georgia election officials likely disabused them of that notion.
In an hour-long almost-incoherent phone call to Brad Raffensperger, Georgia's secretary of state, Trump made it clear that he was pressuring officials flip the state in his favor. In a press conference Monday Georgia election official Gabriel Sterling minced no words, saying that Trump intentionally misled" voters about fraud in the election.
The president knows he lost, and his cronies know it too. Which means that they know full well that what they are doing right now is an attempt to steal our democracy.
These people will never change
The members of Congress voting to stall the confirmation of a free and fair election are cowards. Most aren't even confronting officials in their own states where they risk alienating voters, and all of them know this vote won't change the outcome of the election. They just know this vote will please Trump and his base, and they are willing to hurt the democracy they swore to protect in order to do so.
Just like Trump, they are people who only believe in the system as long as it works for them. When it does not, they change the rules. Calling them anti-democratic is almost too principled, they are ademocratic. They only thing they believe in is power for themselves and those like them.
We all need to remember this moment. Eventually — likely soon — one of these dozens of lawmakers will make an appeal for bipartisanship, or appeal to democracy, or argue their opponents are undermining America. When they do that, based on this vote alone, you should feel free ignore them. I would hope President-elect Joe Biden and his White House will as well.
If you want to get deep about it, what we're witnessing is another moment in which more of America's innocence is lost. It's another chip away at the myth of American exceptionalism — a myth some in this country never got to participate in anyway. That is to say, a loss of innocence isn't necessarily a bad thing. It enables us to see ourselves for who we really are, and accept all the work we have to do.
If you want to be shallow about it what we're witnessing is simply a bunch of phonies being phony. They don't know how to be anything else.
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