On Jan. 20, Joe Biden will be sworn in as the 46th president of the United States.
This we know. The country’s voters have deemed it so, as have responsible state officials who’ve faced intimidation and threats for their trouble, as have numerous Republican and Democratic judges from multiple courts. Wednesday, a joint session of Congress will formally count the Electoral College totals certified by the states — the final step in the process of affirming the election’s results, which will stand no matter what members of Louisiana’s GOP Congressional delegation say.
That’s a good thing, because for the most part, they’ve spent the weeks since President Donald Trump’s defeat not defending the integrity of our democratic process, but entertaining and even amplifying Trump’s outlandish claims of widespread improprieties, for which there is simply no evidence.
U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy has been the lone voice of reason, having acknowledged in late November that Biden won. His colleagues, though, have opted to cast undue doubt on the outcome.
U.S. Sen. John Kennedy sent out an email claiming without proof that there was “a lot of tomfoolery and a few too many shenanigans with this election.” While he can’t say something untoward happened, Kennedy wrote, he’s not sure it didn’t.
The House delegation has been just as cowardly. The GOP members cheered their Democratic colleague Cedric Richmond’s appointment to a White House job, but made sure to offer their congratulations conditionally.
And shamefully, four of them supported a Trump-backed Texas lawsuit asking the U.S. Supreme Court to invalidate Biden wins in four swing states, on the convoluted grounds that procedural changes due to the pandemic could have led to fraud, although the plaintiffs showed no evidence that they did. The high court quickly rejected the suit.
Two Louisianans played significant roles in that fiasco, with U.S. Rep. Mike Johnson wrangling 125 colleagues to sign on, and Minority Whip Steve Scalise putting the leadership’s stamp on the frivolous claim. Only U.S. Rep. Garret Graves declined to join, but he didn’t cite any guiding principle. Rather, Graves attributed his recusal to coronavirus quarantine.
All this dodging, weaving and enabling should finally end Wednesday, when Congress gathers to validate the results. But there’s a last gasp move afoot by a group of dead-ender Trump allies to challenge individual state electors; if at least one House member and one senator object, as currently planned, then the two houses would vote on the challenge. (U.S. Rep. Clay Higgins and Kennedy have already announced their support.)
That, at long last, will be the moment of truth, when allegedly more honorable Republicans from Louisiana and elsewhere must either vote to uphold a fairly conducted election’s result, or say they’re willing to overturn it to get their preferred outcome.
Despite all their maneuvering to placate a president who refuses to accept the voters’ judgment and to appease his most die-hard supporters, the choice really is just that simple.