- - Thursday, January 7, 2021

Chaos and violence: A predictable, yet no less tragic, end to Donald Trump’s presidency. There is nothing left worth defending. He and his movement are a festering wound in the American body politic. Every Republican who so much as flirted with Mr. Trump’s lies about election fraud is now complicit in his sedition.

Now and forevermore, they are disqualified from public service.

The GOP, once the party of principled conservatism, has devolved into a vehicle for Mr. Trump’s narcissism and paranoia. The enators and representatives who object to Congress’ certification of the 2020 presidential election are cowards. They are just as contemptible as the Trump fanatics who forced their way into the Capitol building.

Sens. Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz deserve the most blame for enabling this preposterous event. Mr. Hawley was the first to announce his intent to challenge Joe Biden’s electoral victory. Mr. Cruz was not far behind. Both have their eye on 2024 and want to inherit Mr. Trump’s coalition. But anyone willing to trample democracy in the hopes of becoming king of the rubble is unfit for the Oval Office.

Never Trump. Never Hawley. Never Cruz.

Mr. Trump and his ilk claim they are standing up for free and fair elections. Nonsense. The factual and legal arguments surrounding allegations of widespread election fraud are bogus. Once and for all, let us put to rest the absurd narrative of Messrs. Trump, Hawley and Cruz. Too much is at stake for their insanity to go unchallenged.

Repeated investigations and audits have not uncovered fraud. For example, a recent audit in Cobb County, Georgia, found only two bad mail-in ballots, out of a sample of 15,000. Extrapolated to Georgia’s entire electorate, that eliminates just 174 Biden ballots. But Mr. Trump lost Georgia by 12,000 votes. It is a difference that makes no difference.

Mr. Hawley is a Yale Law alumnus. Mr. Cruz is a Harvard Law alumnus. Both are accomplished attorneys. They know Mr. Trump is 1-for-60 in court, and that his single victory was inconsequential for the election. They know Mr. Trump’s legal team often refrained from fraud assertions because making baseless accusations before a judge has consequences. And they know the only reason there are “unprecedented allegations of voter fraud” is because Republicans have been lying about it nonstop since the election.

In other words, Mr. Hawley and Mr. Cruz have the intelligence, training and savvy to know #StopTheSteal is nothing more than an attempted steal itself. But they were willing to go along with it for the sake of their political careers. This is an unconscionable dereliction of duty. Both senators lack the courage to lead. If they had a shred of conscience, they would resign. Since they do not, it is up to the American people to stop them.

Never Trump. Never Hawley. Never Cruz.

Fortunately, not all Republicans are willing to sell out their nation for 30 pieces of silver. In the Senate, Tom Cotton, who often champions Trump-like policies, announced he would not take part in challenging the election. He proposed a commission to study electoral irregularities, but studying an election is a far cry from stealing one. In the House, Chip Roy objected to seating 67 legislators from states where Mr. Trump and his allies allege fraud. Mr. Roy is rightly forcing his own party to own its allegations: If fraud is endemic in these states, surely House elections are suspect, too! As the Republican mainstream continues to implode, small acts of courage like these make a big difference.

Jan. 6, the election certification date, will go down in infamy. Some GOP politicians previously endorsed widespread violence. Apparently, Mr. Trump’s #MAGA minions listened. At 1 p.m,, they stormed the Capitol, forcing Congress to halt its proceedings. Given the natural madness of crowds, this was sadly forseeable. The fault lies squarely with Mr. Trump and his Republican standard-bearers, such as Mr. Hawley and Mr. Cruz. They bear full responsibility for this shameful display.

The orderly transfer of power has been the glory of American government since 1800. When Thomas Jefferson defeated John Adams for the presidency, many Americans and Europeans predicted armed conflict. Surely, Adams would not hand over the reigns of power, especially given his distaste for Jefferson’s governing philosophy. But Adams was a statesman. He knew what was at stake. America’s second president shocked the world by relinquishing power to his greatest political rival, cementing the future of the nascent republic. 

Now this noble precedent is shattered, thanks to the craven cynicism of Mr. Trump and his defenders. Anyone and everyone who enabled Mr. Trump’s attempted coup must never govern us again.

Never Trump. Never Hawley. Never Cruz.

• Alexander William Salter is an economics professor in the Rawls College of Business at Texas Tech University, the Comparative Economics Research Fellow at TTU’s Free Market Institute, and a Young Voices senior contributor. Twitter @alexwsalter.

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