The Morning Dispatch: A Dark Day on Capitol Hill

Today’s TMD is not going to be like other TMDs, because yesterday was a bleak and sobering day in American history.

What Have We Become?

Any other year, Congress’s counting of the states’ electoral votes after a presidential election would be purely a procedural matter. Yes, a handful of fringe Democrats objected to certain states’ electors in 2005 and 2017, but we doubt you even heard about it, because a) those objecting allowed that their efforts were not intended to overturn the election, and b) their objections were quickly and summarily rejected, including by high-ranking officials of their own party, and, c) the losers of those presidential elections had already conceded their races weeks prior. 

This year, however, Republican Party officials and right-wing media organizations who should—and do—know better have spent months filling their voters’ heads with lies: that widespread voter fraud stole the election from President Trump, that the Trump campaign and its allies were consistently one lawsuit away from righting this grievous wrong, that state legislatures would send alternate slates of electors to the Electoral College, and, when all those avenues failed to manifest, that Vice President Mike Pence would magically flip a switch on January 6 and deliver Trump four more years in office.

A few GOP leaders legitimately believed what they were saying—President Trump himself apparently among them—but the vast majority did not. Yet so many repeated the lies anyway. Over, and over, and over again. It was the easy thing to do, because they knew that legally speaking, nothing would come of it. Sign onto an amicus brief seeking to disenfranchise millions of American voters to prove your Trump bona fides—the Supreme Court will never take the case. Go on Fox News and tell viewers the Trump campaign is well within its rights to file frivolous lawsuit after frivolous lawsuit—judges around the country will knock them down. Announce your intentions to object to the electoral votes on January 6—Mike Pence and the more responsible members of your conference will bail you out.

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