Hawley's actions have reaped a whirlwind
Josh Hawley, the junior U.S. senator from Missouri, is being shunned even by his political allies following his political stunt this week that contributed significantly to the violence at the Capitol building. He had been warned, but he persisted.
Can he ever recover and become an effective voice for Missouri in Congress? It's doubtful.
Let's be clear. President Donald J. Trump incited a riot, and the eager mob took it from there. People died, the Capitol building was sacked and vandalized, and America's standing in the world slipped further.
Our allies were dismayed, and our enemies rejoiced. Across our country, millions were shocked, and no doubt more than a few grew more cynical and further detached from the life of their country. Trump and the rioters bear the most responsibility.
But Senator Hawley bears much responsibility for this as well. He egged the mob on more than anyone other than Trump, pushing flat-out lies not just on TV or in a political campaign but in a formal process of government, certifying the free and fair elections that rest at the root of the American experiment in self-government. Other senators jumped on the bandwagon but only after Hawley went first.
Hawley is intelligent and well educated, and it's safe to assume he knows better when he alleges things that simply are not true.
One function of leadership is telling the truth to your own supporters, even when that truth does not line up with their wishes or biases. Hawley has done the opposite here. He has fed conspiracy theories. He has broken faith with the people and failed this test of leadership.
Even a major patron of Hawley's political career thus far, Republican donor David Humphreys, now calls Hawley an “anti-democracy populist” who should be censured by the Senate. Republican John Danforth, who represented Missouri in the Senate for three terms, now calls his strong support for Hawley “the worst decision I’ve ever made in my life.”
Hawley is still new to the Senate. He is only two years into his six-year term. We call on him to reflect deeply – objectively and with humility – on the consequences of his reckless words and deeds. Assuming he resists the understandable calls to resign and assuming he can escape censure by the Senate, can he rise to meet the demands of the job? Can he apologize and make amends to the extent that's even possible? Can he come to grips with objective truths? Missourians deserve better than what they've gotten so far.