The movement led by Sens. Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz to object to the swing-state electoral votes was always bound to fail, and the two men always knew it. The purpose was not actually to overturn the election results but to send a message to their constituents: “We will fight.”
It’s not the first time Cruz has led such an impossible effort. Back in 2013, he wanted to shut down the government to “defund Obamacare.” The result, though less bloody, should remind anyone who cares about the future of the Republican party that lying to your political base is not only wrong, it’s also bad politics.
When the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act passed in 2010, the opposition was intense. Rallies and demonstrations larger than the one we saw this week were routine at the Capitol. Though emotions ran high, the Tea Party protests then were peaceful. Folks dressed in colonial garb, waved the Gadsden flag and never attacked the Capitol Police or pooped on the floor. And the political blowback from Obamacare led to Republicans retaking the majority in the House of Representatives later that year.
This new House Republican majority repeatedly voted to repeal, partially repeal, defund, or dismantle the health care law. But with the Senate and White House in Democratic hands, those efforts were futile. After President Obama and the Democratic Senate majority were reelected in 2012, a new strategy began to circulate: What if the House Republicans used their constitutional power of the purse? If the House passed funding bills for the rest of the government but not Obamacare, the Democrats would be forced to either shut down the government or eliminate the hated law.