Senators Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley both ignited a political coup, stating false claims in order to keep Donald Trump as president. They both betrayed the American people, and should be held accountable by resigning from Congress.
By Brent Dondalski
On January 6th 2021 hundreds of pro-Trump individuals stormed the Capitol building over their collective frustration that Donald Trump did not win the 2020 election. The members of Congress, most of whom sought to certify the election results that day, were forced to seek safety and barricade themselves in the building. This is a clear consequence of Donald Trump, Senator Josh Hawley, and Senator Ted Cruz’s relentless misinformation campaign to overturn the 2020 election results, and they should face consequences.
Just one day before the insurrection Politico reported that Cruz and Hawley were leading 11 other GOP senators to challenge the results of the election. Their aim to delegitimize the 2020 election through accusations of widespread voter fraud has been heavily criticized due to its overt lack of evidence. On Fox News prior to the attack, Ted Cruz spoke on air about “unprecedented allegations of voter fraud” and expressed his willingness to challenge the election results, despite the justice department asserting that there has been no evidence of widespread fraud.
Josh Hawley similarly announced his objection to certifying the 2020 election results while echoing false conspiracy theories about poor election security, despite the 2020 election being one of the most secure in American history according to Brennan Center for Justice. 61 of the 62 lawsuits filed by the president have been tossed out because of a lack of merit. For every accusation of voter fraud there are hundreds of fact-checkers and investigative sources reporting that it just did not happen that way. This widespread voter fraud, simply put, is a myth. It was made up out of thin air by Trump and his colleagues as a desperate attempt to hold onto power. It is what ultimately inspired the January 6th attack that lead to the death of five people.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D), a notable progressive member of the Democratic Party, described the coup attempt saying “I thought I was going to die” as well as hearing screams from the protesters yelling “Where is she? Where is she?” Rep. Nancy Mase (R), a republican from South Carolina, even vowed to start carrying a firearm at the capitol after the event declaring “I will not be put in that situation again.”
The accounts of this event are harrowing and we cannot let them fade into the past. The politicians responsible for this violence must be held accountable or we risk history repeating itself. This event was a textbook example of an attempted coup. There is no debate here.
Merriam-Webster defines a coup as “a sudden decisive exercise of force in politics, especially the violent overthrow or alteration of an existing government by a small group.” Nobody could sum up the frustration that led to this attempted coup better than Donald Trump himself when he told the crowd “this election was stolen from you, from me, from the country” just hours before the Capitol violence ignited. Clearly the general goal of the mob was to violently take control of the building and subsequently acquire power for the Trump administration. Fortunately, successful coups tend to be more intricately planned and after hours of violence, including the deaths of four protesters and one police officer, the crowd was expelled from the building and dispersed.
It is important to accurately assess this coup as a coup to truly grasp the gravity of this situation. They attempted to overthrow the American government. They got closer than we might ever see again. Democracy almost crumbled right in front of our eyes and the recklessly incorrect claims of election fraud perpetuated by Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and Josh Hawley are where the blame lies.
If the conspiracies had not been started and amplified by the former president and these senators then the insurrection would have never happened. What must happen now is Congress must acknowledge this officially and expel Senator Hawley and Senator Cruz from Congress. This act would show the American people that there are serious consequences for undermining democracy and that any seditious and reckless behavior by government officials in the future would be met with full accountability.
If both Hawley and Cruz are allowed to continue as Senators after inciting a coup then what is stopping them from making even more seizes for power? Senator Lindsey Graham has come out in opposition to their expulsions saying “it is past time for all of us to try to heal our country and move forward,” but what better way to heal than to hold those responsible accountable? If one can acknowledge to themselves that the attack on January 6th was in fact an attempted coup and that Hawley and Cruz’ endorsement of election fraud conspiracies directly lead to this coup then there is clearly only one way forward. There is no bipartisan compromise here. They should be glad they aren’t being arrested for treason. Senators Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz must be expelled from Congress.
Ryan Ford '23,