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OPINION

Senator Hawley is out of line on contesting vote

The Examiner

U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri is bringing embarrassment upon our state with his announced intention to stand in the way of the will of the voters when Congress next week affirms the presidential vote of the Electoral College. He may calculate that this is good for him politically, but his showboating is nothing more than pandering.

Hawley in his brief time in the Senate has been keen to play the role of populist, going out of his way to blame China for most of the world’s problems and Big Tech for the rest. But there’s at least a kernel of truth – and room for honest policy disagreements – somewhere underneath those overheated attacks.

That isn’t the case here. Joe Biden got 81.26 million votes on Nov. 3. That’s 7 million more votes than Donald Trump got. Biden won 306 Electoral College votes to Trump’s 232. The people have spoken, clearly, in a free and fair election.

At first, the argument went, Trump was entitled to make his challenges in court. Trump and his allies were shouting fraud for the cameras but not actually arguing fraud – let alone offering evidence – in court. Judge after judge sent Trump’s lawyers packing, sometimes chiding them for wasting everyone’s time.

Neither did recounts change the outcome in any state, and the states certified their votes in early December. So the next desperate line of defense was that electors in the Electoral College shouldn’t do their jobs and vote for the candidate they had pledged to support. But they did their jobs. Biden 306, Trump 232.

This is the system working as designed in the Constitution: the people voting, votes counted and sometimes recounted, votes certified, electors voting. Next Wednesday Congress takes its turn, meeting in a joint session to certify the Electoral College vote, usually a perfunctory move that draws little attention. 

Now, the apparent last line of defense is a few dozen Republicans in the House trying to stand in the way by objecting to that. By rule, they need at least one senator to go along and force each house of Congress to debate and vote separately.

Up steps Josh Hawley. This won’t change the outcome, but it will make for cheap entertainment on TV. It did not have to be this way.

This only serves two purposes. One is Hawley currying favor with the most die-hard of Trump supporters. The other is to push the false and malicious narrative of an illegitimate election result, undermining confidence in our system of government. 

Hawley is acting recklessly. He’s hurting the country. He’s entitled to his political ambition, but the cost here is too high.

There’s an old saying about the U.S. Senate, that one chooses to be a workhorse or a show horse. Hawley has made the wrong choice.