“We are what we pretend to be,” Kurt Vonnegut wrote in the opening of his 1962 novel, Mother Night, “and so we must be careful what we pretend to be.” Republicans in Congress are pretending to be seditionists—and so they have become, in fact, seditionists.
Forget all the whispered denials and the off-the-record expressions of concern in private; ignore the knowing smirks on camera from GOP officials who are desperately trying to indicate that they’re in on the joke. Brush aside the caviling of the anti-anti-Trump writers who would rather talk about that time in 2017 when some Democrats objected to the Electoral College vote (and were gaveled down by Joe Biden himself).
This is sedition, plain and simple. No amount of playacting and rationalizing can change the fact that the majority of the Republican Party and its apologists are advocating for the overthrow of an American election and the continued rule of a sociopathic autocrat.
This is not some handful of firebrands making a stand for the television cameras. In 2005, one Democrat in the House and one in the Senate filed an objection to counting Ohio’s electoral votes, while insisting that they were not contesting the outcome of the presidential election itself. In 2017, a handful of Democratic members of the House objected to the electoral count. Because they lacked support in the Senate, then–Vice President Biden ruled the representatives out of order and declared, “It is over.” In both cases, the Democratic candidate had already conceded.
Today, the “sedition caucus” includes at least 140 members of the House—that is, some two-thirds of the House GOP membership—and at least 10 members of the Senate. Their challenge comes after weeks of insistence that the 2020 election was rigged, plagued by fraud, and even subverted by foreign powers. The president and his minions have filed, and lost, scores of lawsuits that ranged from minor disputes over process to childlike, error-filled briefs full of bizarre assertions.
Instead of threatening to gavel these objections into irrelevance, as Biden did four years ago, Vice President Mike Pence “welcomes” these challenges. Pence’s career is finished, but he could have stood for the Constitution he claims to love and which he swore to defend. However, cowardice is contagious, and no mask was thick enough to protect Pence from the pathogen of fear. [Continue reading…]