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Seditious Members of Congress Must Be Held Accountable
COMMENTARY

January 4, 2021 by Robert B. Reich
U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) points to a document as he speaks during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Facebook and Twitter's content moderation practices in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 17, 2020. Cruz is one of 12 senators who say they will object to certification of President-elect Joe Biden's victory on Wednesday. (Photo by Hannah McKay/Pool/Sipa USA)

I’ve been in or around politics for over a half-century now, and I never imagined how low and loony the Republican Party would become. Twelve Republican senators say they will object to President-elect Joe Biden’s victory on Wednesday when Congress meets to formally certify it.

They are joining a growing movement in the GOP to defy the unambiguous results of the 2020 presidential election and support Donald Trump’s bizarre attempt to remain in power with false claims of voting fraud.

Remember: Every state has now certified the election results after verifying their accuracy. Several underwent post-election audits or hand counts. At the same time, judges across America, including Supreme Court justices, have rejected nearly 60 attempts by Trump and his allies to challenge the results.

None of the 12 Republican senators who say they will attempt to invalidate the results of the election has made any specific allegations of fraud. At most, they offer vague statements that some wrongdoing may have occurred.

Their most specific grounds for contesting the certification is that many of their supporters believe Trump’s claims of fraud — which is circular reasoning, since Trump and many of these same senators have been trying to convince the public since the election that fraud occurred, without offering any evidence.

The sedition of these 12 United States senators — and I use that term advisedly — will not alter the outcome of the election. It is purely for show, as have been so many of Trump’s and his enablers’ actions. But the show itself will be a brawl that will only serve to validate in the minds of many of Trump’s supporters his baseless claims — dividing America even more.

The one consolation, if it can be called that, is that their cynical ploy will also force other Republican members of Congress to openly choose between doing their constitutional duty and accepting the results of the election, or displaying brazen loyalty to a fading demagogue who has sought to turn the GOP into a personal cult. In short, it will smoke them out: They must openly choose democracy or fascism.

Trump’s Saturday phone call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger only sharpens this choice. In the call, Trump repeatedly urged Raffensperger to “find” enough votes to allow the secretary to recalculate the election results to show that Trump, rather than Biden, won the state.

I urge you to hear the audio excerpts of a president of the United States cajoling and seeming to threaten a state official, also a fellow Republican. At one point, Trump says “I just want to find 11,780 votes [Biden won the state by 11,779 votes], which is one more than we have.”

As to the dozen Republican senators who will object to the certification on Wednesday, it is not clear whether they’re acting because of fear of Trump or political opportunism. Some are weighing a 2024 presidential campaign and know that being on the wrong side of Trump could mean certain defeat.

No matter. They must be held accountable for their sedition. Rarely in American history has a symbolic act carried such significance for the future of the country. Without accountability, our fragile system will become even more susceptible to these sorts of cynical games.

When they are next up for reelection, every one of them deserves to be defeated. It is up to the rest of us to make sure that happens.

©2021 Robert Reich. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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