Nonprofit, nonpartisan journalism. Supported by readers.

Donate
Topics

GOP lawmakers’ slippery answers on whether election was ‘stolen’ are contemptible

It’s their job to take a position on such things, and say why.

Supporters President Donald Trump climb on walls at the U.S. Capitol, rioting against the certification of the 2020 U.S. presidential election results.
Supporters President Donald Trump climb on walls at the U.S. Capitol, rioting against the certification of the 2020 U.S. presidential election results.
REUTERS/Jim Urquhart

How’s this for political courage?

On Jan. 6, the day of the violent, Trump-encouraged (at least), deadly mob assault on the U.S. Capitol, 139 Republican members of the U.S. House (out of 221 total House Republicans) voted to overturn the result of the 2020 election in which Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump. Despite that, the vote failed. (A much lower share of Senate Republicans — eight out of 51 — likewise voted against accepting the result.)

A month later (last week), Reuters contacted the Republican congressmen and women who had voted that way, and asked them whether they still contend that Trump had actually beaten Biden, fair and square, and was being denied by nefarious parties and illegal actions the second term that he had had “honestly” won.

Exactly two of those 139 House members said that yes, they still contend that Trump was the rightful winner of the election and that his victory was stolen through fraud.

Article continues after advertisement

Two others, who wouldn’t answer the question from Reuters, have made other public statements elsewhere that they stand by their previous position that the election was stolen. So that’s four out of 139 who agree with what they said last month, and were willing to say so.

Ten of the 139, when contacted by Reuters, said no, they do not currently believe the election was stolen and cited what Reuters characterized as “unrelated reasons” for their previous effort to attempt to invalidate millions of votes and overturn the result.

That leaves 125 of the lawmakers who originally favored overturning the result, who were — as Reuters summarized their replies — unwilling to “either endorse or repudiate Trump’s continuing insistence that he was cheated by systemic voter fraud,” although many of them did say something when asked by Reuters why they voted that way. Many of those replies were on the slippery side. (You can read some of them via the link at the bottom of this post.)

I would call this “pitiful,” but I certainly don’t pity those unwilling to either repeat or repudiate their former claim. So I’ll just call it “contemptible.”

It’s their job to take a position on such things, and say why. And, if they live in the world of facts and laws and court decisions, including many rendered by Republican-appointed judges, there is only one position they can defend. Later, if their position changes, it’s still their job to say why it changed and where they stand now on a question of such import.

The vast majority of them were unwilling or unable to do either of those things, so they just ducked the question, or said something artfully evasive, and, presumably, would be most grateful if they were never asked again or at least until their political career is over.

The political survival calculations behind this are too obvious to need explaining. Likewise the political gutlessness necessary to just start whistling Dixie when asked a fairly important question, relevant to their sworn duty to uphold the Constitution, because they have not been able to calculate the net political good or harm they will do to themselves by saying yes or no and they aren’t too sure about “maybe.” Citing “unrelated reasons” for voting as they did doesn’t cover it.

I’m not sure I ever actually read “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.” Even if I did, I’m sure I would benefit from a reread. But I would like to believe it’s pretty likely what it says about what to do when you have told a hurtful lie to benefit yourself. Confess. Retract. Apologize. Promise to do better. Then do better.

The full Reuters piece is here.