Profiles in Cowardice

Posted on December 16, 2020

Eighteen of the 26 Republican state Attorneys General and 126 of the 196 Republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives officially endorsed the Texas lawsuit urging the Supreme Court to disregard the 2020 election results and illegitimately award the presidency to Donald Trump.

All of them violated their oaths to uphold the U.S. Constitution. All of them committed sedition against the United States. All who are lawyers (at least 56 of the signers) should be disbarred for deceitful conduct and, according to the Constitution’s 14th Amendment, none of them should be sworn in as members of the next Congress.

In fact, every single person who signed a brief for the Texas lawsuit knows it was a lie.

Elected officials know how ballots are counted. Most, and perhaps nearly all, have at some point participated in or watched the vote counting process themselves. And every elected official knows at least some, and often very many, of the people who do the counting at the precinct, county and state levels. They know perfectly well that:

  • Virtually every time a ballot is touched, it is handled or watched by a bipartisan team. Nobody can add or subtract votes because the other side is always watching. In fact, the ballot counting process is slow precisely because there are so many steps built-in to guarantee accuracy and prevent fraud.
  • The people who count votes – thousands of volunteers and the professional staff – are dedicated to the democratic process and will not allow false ballot counting for either side.
  • Small mistakes are inevitable, but as recounts in Wisconsin and Georgia demonstrated, it is never anywhere near the 10,000-20,000 victory margins that Biden amassed in the most closely contested states. In comparison, 2020 was nothing like Florida in 2000 where Bush defeated Gore by only 527 votes out of almost 6 million cast.
  • Trump failed to demonstrate “stolen” ballots in any of his 50+ post-election lawsuits. That’s because, in this kind of election, “stealing” any state is completely impossible.

All elected officials understand this because they understand the system – that’s how they got themselves elected. When they assert there was or could have been fraud accounting for greater than the 12,000 vote margin that Biden won in Georgia or the 20,000 vote margin Biden won in Wisconsin, they know it is a lie. When they go on to assert that somehow the count is off by more than the 80,000 vote margin that Biden won in Pennsylvania or the 150,000 margin that Biden won in Michigan, is a preposterous lie.

So why did 2/3rds of Republican Attorneys General and Members of the U.S. House lie to the United States Supreme Court and the American people? It’s because they are cowards. In fact, the Texas lawsuit is one of the most astonishing cases of political cowardice in American history.

Trump and the communications platforms that support his right-wing authoritarianism told their credulous supporters that Biden “stole” the election. As a result, something like 2/3rds of Republicans say they don’t trust the election results. Quaking in their boots, these Republican officials endorsed Trump’s lie so they wouldn’t upset primary election voters.

A representative democracy requires officeholders who accept facts and stand up for principles, even when they might be unpopular. And the most basic principle that an elected official must defend is democracy. This is not a question of ideology; it’s a matter of integrity. The cowards who have refused to say what they know for a fact – that the 2020 election was fairly decided – should not hold office for the simple reason that they do not support our form of government.