The GOP's January 6th assault on democracy
Watch individual Republican senators over coming days. Call them, write them, pressure them. Democrats must make it clear: This is a racist, blatant attack on the Constitution.
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On January 6th, the new Congress meets in a joint session to formally certify the Electoral College vote, which was completed on December 14th, with Joe Biden — the president-elect —winning 306 votes (well over the 270 to win) and Donald Trump getting 232.
The vice president oversees the joint session, in this case Mike Pence. And he and a whole slew of Republican senators hold the key to whether this turns into a full blow assault on democracy or an attempt that peters out. There have been reports that Trump doesn’t trust Pence or others around him right now, and the Lincoln Project taunted Trump about it. Pence has thus been going out of his way to show his loyalty — so on January 6th, all eyes are on him as well as on GOP senators.
The congressional certification, a usually dry, routine process -- though it has shown brief sparks of dissent over the years, with individual members of Congress protesting results — ends with Congress confirming the Electoral College vote. Some Democratic House members in 2016 vocally protested the vote, for example, citing Russian interference in the election, but were told they were “out of order” by the then vice-president — Joe Biden — who reminded them that this wasn’t open for debate in a joint session.
Objections must be in writing by a House member and a senator in order for debate, and possibly votes, to occur, none of which happened. And the candidate the Democrats supported, Hillary Clinton, had conceded and didn’t support a challenge.
This year, however, there is a great probability there will be a full-blown challenge to the results that will lead to a vote in both chambers. Let’s be clear: It’s doomed to failure in overturning the election. Joe Biden will be sworn in on January 20th. But it could be another event that feeds Trump’s base the twisted, reckless idea that the election is somehow contested or was “rigged.”
It’s outrageous we’re here, as the election wasn’t even close. Joe Biden took five states Donald Trump won in 2016, two of them — Pennsylvania and Michigan — by much wider margins than Trump won them in 2016. And he won the popular vote by 7 million votes, winning the largest popular vote total by any presidential candidate in history, 81.3 million votes. Biden won a higher percentage of the vote against an incumbent president than any challenger since Franklin Delano Roosevelt beat Herbert Hoover in 1932.
According to reports, Trump has been calling GOP members of the House and Senate, pressuring them to make a formal challenge, and several House members — most vocally Mo Brooks of Alabama — have said with certainty they will challenge the vote. Pence, as of now, is in on it, having been at a meeting with Trump, Brooks and other House members over the weekend, plotting out this latest attempt to steal the election.
But no GOP senator is publicly committed yet, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who seems increasingly weak trying to fight the monster he helped create, apparently pleaded with Republican senators not to join. McConnell knows this entire exercise is futile and is disastrous for Republicans, forcing a vote few want to take.
Several Republican senators haven’t ruled it out, however, including Georgia’s Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, locked in tight runoffs on January 5th. And some have even made comments that suggest they might support this effort — most notable among them, newly elected Tommy Tuberville of Alabama, who Trump has all but announced will be on board.
But if Tuberville or any other senator joins a House member with a formal objection to results it triggers yet another event that attacks the integrity of the election — even though it blows up in the GOP’s face.
Debate in both chambers would begin, overseen by Pence, that could go on for two days, and then proceed to votes. Utah’s Mitt Romey, Nebraska’s Ben Sasse, Maine’s Susan Collins and Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski — all of whom have been vocal in recognizing Biden’s election and/or criticized Trump or called on him to concede — will most certainly join all 48 Democrats against overturning the election. (And Democrats have a majority in the House, which alone would kill this no matter what the Senate does.)
But if there is a vote and it is that close in the Senate — with only GOP senators who’ve been the most critical of Trump joining Democrats — it would be used by the Trump cult to diminish Biden’s win and further push the “rigged” election, again doing enormous damage.
It’s important to make sure this vote isn’t even close, relegated to only the kookiest crazies among the GOP senators. In that vein, we can expect that Tuberville, an ignorant twit who is deep in the Trump cult, and the increasingly erratic Rand Paul, who’s been promoting outlandish lies about thousands of dead people voting, would vote for it. Tennessee’s vile Trumpist nutbag, Marsha Blackburn, could probably be counted on to back this anti-democratic action too.
Backing this attempt, however, could haunt a GOP senator for the rest of his or her career, as it is the most seditious, brazen act against American democracy that senators in modern times will have taken. It is a blatantly racist act as well, an attempt to throw out the votes of Black citizens in largely Black cities that Trump has smeared, accusing them of allowing or promoting voter fraud. The message has been clear from the GOP and will only be underscored in boldface: Black votes should be suppressed and discounted.
Which senators will get aboard?
Even with the pressure from Trump, his lapdog Lindsey Graham might not be a shoe-in. Every now and then he pushes back on constitutional issues, and he has come close to recognizing Biden as president-elect, saying, "Yeah, yeah it's a very, very narrow path for the president. I don't see how it gets there from here, given what the Supreme Court did.” Still, this spineless creep could go either way.
Ted Cruz, a sniveling, pathetic human being loyal to Trump even after Trump called his wife ugly in 2016, and Missouri’s Josh Hawley, a faux-populist ambitious Christian dominionist, have sights on running for president in 2024 (if Trump doesn’t). They’ve both made a lot of noise about “voter fraud” in the election, pushing lies and supporting Trump’s baseless claims, certainly wanting Trump to think they’re all-in for January 6th.
Other 2024 hopefuls among senators, like Arkansas’s war-mongering fascist-hugger Tom Cotton, have been more subdued. Cotton said early on that Trump has “every right” to pursue challenges. But he’s not said much since — though he’s stopped short of calling Biden “president-elect.” The same is true of pathetic perennial hypocrite Marco Rubio, trying to remain a bit below the radar while attacking Trump’s critics — however, Rubio has recognized Biden as president-elect. Rick Scott, Rubio’s fellow Florida senator, also appears to have acknowledged the results of the election.
It might seem like a no-brainer for 2024 hopefuls to get on this train wreck (though Sasse, seen as a 2024 hopeful, is betting on Trumpism dying) in order to assuage the Trump base and get Trump’s backing — and avoid his trying to destroy them. But none of them knows how this will play out in four years, how history will see it (hint: not very well), nor if it’s possible to win in a presidential general election having taken this vote even if it helps secure winning GOP primaries.
This planned January 6th assault is — let’s say it again — a complete and total attack on the sanctity of the vote, our very democracy and the Constitution. It will be used by any Democratic presidential candidate running against a GOP candidate who took this vote, mercilessly bludgeoning him or her.
Among other GOP senators, Sens. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Mike Braun of Indiana, Roy Blunt of Missouri, John Cornyn of Texas, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Rob Portman of Ohio, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and Kevin Cramer of North Dakota have all acknowledged the election results and would have to make quite a flip — though not unprecedented for GOP senators, especially with the fear of Trump backing a primary challenge against them — to suddenly reverse. Senate Majority Whip John Thune of South Dakota has also spoken out against any senators joining the effort to overturn the election. That got him tagged as “Mitch’s boy” in a tweet by Trump last night.
Who knows about the super-nasty, hyper-cynical John Kennedy of Louisiana, who’s still casting doubt on the election? And there are a bunch of others, including Sens. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma and John Barrasso of Wyoming, who still are refusing to acknowledge Biden as president-elect.
The bottom line is: The GOP cannot be trusted. This January 6th assault on our democracy could be a big dud, garnering minimal support among just a few of the craziest GOP senators. Or we could see many get scared to death of a Trump tweet and suddenly move in lockstep to overturning the election. Again, make no mistake, Joe Biden will be president, as the House will vote against this, stopping it in its tracks.
But it shouldn’t even have gotten this far nor should it be something that only was stopped because of Democrats’ narrow majority in the House. That’s pretty chilling. Every one of these GOP senators should be harangued on the phones, in emails and wherever they are in public by constituents. They need to be told what a racist act this is, how it will haunt them forever and that we won’t forget their attack on the Constitution. And that’s the message Democrats, in a unified way, should lay it out during any floor debate.
Annual Angel and Turkey Awards
Listeners to the my SiriusXM show will know that today is our annual Turkey of the Year and Angel of the Year Awards —the biggest losers and the the greatest, most incredible and amazing people who did great things. Our way of looking back on the year, as this is my last live show of the year.
We take calls throughout the show, taking turkey and angel nominations, and then hand out phenomenal “audio statuettes” — often tailor-made to perfection for the winners. It’s lots of sound and funny audio, let’s put it that way. Always a lot of fun and great way to end the year. At the end of the show we have a vote for Greatest Angel and Biggest Turkey, with people registering their votes on the phones and on social media.
So, I’d like to get your nominations here too for turkey and angel awards. Of course, I think we all know the most obvious, that giant Orange Turkey that lost big time. But be a bit more creative! Drop your thoughts in the comments. And happy holidays!