“My view is that Trump will not change the Republican Party, America’s right-of-center party. If he brings in new followers, that’s great, and well worth the effort, but he will not change the Republican Party,” said Mitch McConnell.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s words ring through the American political sphere like a cannon through a hallway. Donald Trump has rampaged through the Republican Party like a bull in a china shop.
By fueling conspiracy theories that the election was stolen from him, Trump set the stage for a violent mob to storm the U.S. Capitol. This moment of chaos should have been the best moment for America to cleanse itself from Trump. The Republican Party, following the attempted coup of American democracy, had the chance to completely rid itself of the man they followed for the last four years. Not necessarily his politics and agenda, but Republicans had an opportunity to change the vessel of delivery.
Instead, over one hundred Senate and Congressional Republicans drank the Kool-Aid on Trumpism more than others have in the past. They feared the man and his followers more than they revered the Constitution and nation they swore to defend. At the top of this list was Junior Senator Josh Hawley from Missouri.
Hawley’s defense of Trump and his imaginary election claims are indefensible. Hawley has supported these antics from the beginning. He was the first Senator to support the effort to not certify the election results from the 2020 election.
Hawley claimed that he was defending millions of Americans that had doubts about election integrity. He was doing the complete opposite. Hawley’s intention was clear: to set up a presidential run in 2024. His aspiration for higher office and power blinded him, one can hope, to the actions of Trump. Hawley saw an opportunity to seize one of the most dedicated bases we’ve seen in modern politics.
Trump supporters’ extreme passion towards the former President has and will continue to create a power vacuum in the party. At least 55 percent of Republicans believe that the election was fraudulent. Garnering the support of Trump’s base is the path to taking the Republican Party’s nomination in 2024. If Hawley had truly wanted to investigate accusations of fraud, he could have started a committee and investigated it thoroughly. He could have acted like a United States senator, not a reality tv show pariah. Instead, Hawley, like many other Republicans, was trying to position himself to be Trump’s heir apparent. Then, the unthinkable happened.
Hawley’s actions before the assault on the Capitol are redeemable. The argument could be made that Hawley never thought that Trump’s rhetoric could lead to the events that transpired Jan. 6. Like a lot of Americans, I do not support this sentiment, but still, the point is valid and not unreasonable. However, Hawley’s actions during and after the attempted siege are appalling and irredeemable.
While insurrectionists ran wild in the U.S. Capital, hundreds of lawmakers hid fearing for their lives. These radical groups at the riot were planning on killing police officers and security guards, at least. They were willing to do what was necessary to get “justice” for the alleged wrongs against them and their country.
Two hours prior, Hawley was sending emails. Not just any emails, but emails to his fundraisers, objecting to the results of the election. He claimed that he was fighting for a free election against career politicians in Washington, DC. He was supporting the rioters’ battle cry up to and after they stormed the place where democracy happens in our country. Hawley tried to portray himself as a defender of freedom and democracy but instead did the complete opposite.
“Supporting Josh and trying so hard to get him elected to the Senate was the worst mistake I ever made in my life,” said former Senator Jack Danforth (MO-R).
Hawley was still given an opportunity for redemption on the Senate floor later that night. After all of the chaos, after all of the pandemonium, Hawley had America’s attention. He had the same opportunity that countless other Republicans had to purge themselves from Trumpism. Hawley could have joined the likes of Senators Mitt Romney (UT-R), Mike Lee (UT-R), former Senator Kelly Loefler ( GA-R) and other Republicans who spoke out against the former president after his rally turned violent.
They made the decision that their country was more important than their party. Hawley could have easily acquitted himself in the eyes of every American that night. Instead, he stood up and still objected to the election basing his argument on frivolous facts that have been thrown out of every courtroom in the U.S. His deliberate rejection of our democratic values will forever tarnish his reputation and all those that support him.
Hawley’s behavior was that of a man that was blinded by his ambition. He saw his future and all of his aspirations that could be realized. Hawley saw himself as the ideological face of the Republican party, and maybe even in the White House. His skewered perception and aspirations resulted in him abandoning his common sense, his academic history and, frankly, his morality. Josh Hawley’s actions will be remembered as a warning to all aspirational politicians. His actions are a clear warning that working to undermine our system, no matter the possible merits, will always result in an absolute failure.
In the grand scheme, Hawley’s behavior has shown how Donald Trump has unequivocally changed the Republican Party forever. Trump’s rhetoric has normalized this tomfoolery and absurdity within the party. It is impossible to imagine anything like this happening after a speech given by Lincoln, Eisenhower, Reagan or Bush. “Trumpism” has created a whole generation of Hawley-type politicians that has challenged basic conservative tenets and beliefs about the premise of governance in the U.S. They will only increase the unethical and incompetent leadership that plagues Washington.