WASHINGTON — Republicans in Congress are demanding “unity” after 147 of them voted to try to overturn the election, propping up the very lies that led a mob of President Donald Trump’s supporters to violently attack the US Capitol on Wednesday.
The calls for unity came not in the immediate aftermath of the storming of the Capitol, or after the group — a majority of House Republicans plus eight of their Senate colleagues — spent seven more hours forcing votes to try to undo President-elect Joe Biden’s win and citing claims of election fraud that have been repeatedly rejected by the courts and for which there is no evidence. The calls came as Democrats began to consider imposing consequences.
The 147 Republicans voted separately to undermine the will of voters in Arizona and Pennsylvania; the vast majority of them voted for both. Many of them knew that the election fraud claims upon which they based those votes were not true, that they were invented by and for a president whose ego would not allow him to acknowledge his own loss until a full day after a violent mass breached the Capitol on his behalf and as news was breaking that a Capitol Police officer had died.
Sens. Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz, who led the Senate attempts to object to Biden’s win, didn’t say they believed the election was fraudulent in defending those decisions Wednesday night. Instead, they argued a lot of Trump’s supporters believed it was and that they for some reason had some responsibility to act on their behalf while continuing to amplify conspiracies, “leaving the ouroboros undermining our democracy to keep chomping away,” as the Washington Post's Mike DeBonis put it. Hawley spoke solely about his concerns about Pennsylvania’s election, raising questions about the state’s mail-in voting law passed more than a year ago that had already been rejected by multiple courts, and which Hawley himself said were “quite apart from allegations of any fraud.”
Cruz has since said the nation must now “must come together and put this anger and division behind us.” Hawley — who was photographed raising a fist in support of the mob before they broke into the Capitol — has been mostly silent but did complain about the loss of his book contract while comparing Simon & Schuster to the “mob” that stormed the Capitol.
In the aftermath of Wednesday’s violence — in which not only was Officer Brian D. Sicknick killed, but one Trump supporter was shot and killed by police, and three others died due to medical emergencies — the 147 Republicans who voted to try to keep Trump in power have largely praised law enforcement and, rightly, mourned Sicknick, something Trump himself has not publicly done. And they’ve decried Democratic plans to start a second impeachment of the president as anti-unity; a handful of the Republicans who voted to uphold Biden’s win are telling him the same thing.
They’ve also focused heavily on “cancel culture” because the man who will be president of the United States for just another 11 days was booted from Twitter and other social media platforms for inciting violence. This, despite the fact that you cannot cancel the commander in chief, who continues to have the largest platform in the country — the Oval Office, the White House briefing room, the MAGA rally stage, and literally dozens of TV cameras following him — at his disposal whenever he wants to speak.
To these 147 Republicans, Democrats considering impeaching Trump is what is causing the division. Not their reality-defying support for a president who wouldn’t call in reinforcements as members of Congress, reporters, and staff huddled behind chairs and desks fearing for their lives; who was reportedly pleased by the chaos, as rioters pushed past police officers and shouted “Hang Mike Pence!”; who took hours and endless pleading from staff to tell his people to stop — and even then, telling them, “We love you. You’re very special.” What we need now, after those Republicans took the time to try to give Trump and those domestic terrorists what they wanted, is unity.