Asheville Daily Planet, January 15, 2021

One hundred twenty-six members of the United States House of Representatives, all belonging to the Republican Party, America’s conservative party, signed on to a lawsuit brought to the Supreme Court.  The suit alleged widespread voter fraud in four states and asked the Court to overturn the outcome. 

The lawsuit was based on debunked conspiracy theories and outright lies — and these 126 Republicans knew it.  The whole world knew it. 

And don’t doubt, President Trump knows it, too.  He’s playing a cynical game with his followers, stringing them along like a yo-yo.  He blusters them along, so they don’t see him as a loser.  It’s cynicism like nothing before in America. 

These Republicans human-trafficked themselves because their Trumped-up constituents insisted on it.  It’s reported that congressional offices were deluged with demands that they “stand with the president,” no matter how freaky his behavior.

I find these guys pathetic — in the basic meaning of the word: “arousing pity, especially through vulnerability.”  But also in our more common meaning, “contemptible.”

They added their names to the lawsuit out of fear.  They’re worried that their constituents might choose somebody else in the next Republican primary, somebody who insists he would have gone all the way with the president.

In normal times, they would be a laughingstock.  Their hometown newspapers would have cartoons above the front-page fold showing them in court jester costumes.  But these are Trump times in their districts, and by signing, they remain hometown heroes.  (Yahoo News did run photos of all 126, in black-and-white, in a “news ticker” format, like a moving rogue’s gallery.) 

They could have said no, right?

Sure.  They could have sat on a park bench, looking at the ducks and children playing and looking deep inside themselves and said, “No, I won’t.  I have values.  I want my grandchildren to be proud of me, proud of my courage.” And then they could have explained their positions with strength of leadership.  And maintained their integrity.

Integrity, yeah.  But they likely would enjoy their integrity back home, not in Washington.  They know that Trump “has got a little list,” and they know they’ll be on it if they stray.  They’d have a primary opponent, and they’d be cut off from national GOP campaign funds.  And then there are the lush perks Congress has given themselves over the years.  And staffs and travel.  Fear of defeat doth make cowards of Congress.

But all that is just one level of their decision-making.  Let’s don’t forget ambition.  Congresspeople aren’t where they are because of sweet fate.  There’s a category of House member professions called “professional politician,” the folks who spend their lives looking around for the crumb jobs that fall from the government table.  But when somebody is elected to Congress, in fact, they all, the doctors, the lawyers, the teachers, all become professional politicians.  Their list of priorities has only two items:  keeping their seats and maybe moving up the electoral ladder.

The 126 go-along Republicans are symbolic of the rot in today’s Republican Party.  If Donald Trump, out of office, tries and succeeds in isolating, for himself and his glory and his financial gain, the millions of Americans who are now unwavering followers, then the Republican Party will melt away, and a new, true conservative party will inevitably come to be.

Two points in closing:

 Members of Congress are certainly correct to represent their constituents’ views when they vote.  But they have a higher responsibility, namely, the wellbeing of the country — and complicity in what’s being called an “autocratic attempt” cannot be in the best interest of the United States.

Term limits have been touted as a remedy to the Congress’ reelection worries, but a Constitutional amendment was actually proposed in the GOP‘s Contract with America in 1995.  It failed to get the required two-thirds vote.  But hey, the term limit proposed in the amendment for the U.S. House was…get this…six terms!