The hottest new sport in the season of the coronavirus is ambitious Republican politicians competing to most angrily condemn the idea of representative government. What better sendoff to our reality television president than watching the Grand Old Party descend into hair-pulling, drink-throwing chaos?
On Wednesday, Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz vaulted ahead of a crowded field with strident pledges to oppose Senate certification of Joe Biden’s electoral victory on January 6. An act of desperate political theater by two leading Trumpworld bootlicks—including one whose wife and father were both the subject of vicious personal attacks by Trump—isn’t in itself surprising, and it won’t change the outcome of the election. But what still saddens, even if it no longer shocks, is the silence from Republicans with standing who believe themselves more principled than their headline-chasing colleagues but lack the courage to say that publicly with their name attached.
The Republican Party that enters 2021 is a party without a formal platform and defined by its entirely situational ethics. It is no longer interested in pursuing power under the restrictions of democracy or voting or free and fair elections. It is simply interested in obtaining, expanding and perpetuating itself, a virus on the body politic that publicity-hounds like Hawley and Cruz think they can direct and control all the way to the White House in 2024. And if 2020 has taught us anything about viruses, it is how readily they defy containment, and how deadly they become when met with silence.