Two years ago today, an armed mob incited by former President Donald Trump and his Republican allies attacked the United States Capitol in an attempt to overturn the 2020 election. The storming of the Capitol, which came at Trump’s direction and after two months of lies about a “rigged election,” left five people dead, hundreds of police officers injured, and American democracy hanging on by a thread.
And yet just hours after fleeing from a violent mob egged on by their party’s leader, 139 House Republicans and eight Senate Republicans voted against certifying the presidential election results in a last-ditch effort to overturn Trump’s loss to Joe Biden.
They failed, and Joe Biden was inaugurated as the 46th president of the United States two weeks later.
But Republican politicians’ effort to override the will of American voters has not doomed their political careers. Instead, supporting Trump’s “Big Lie” became a litmus test for Republicans running for office in 2022.
While the most extreme, election-denying candidates running in competitive races in swing states resoundingly lost, Republicans narrowly won control of the House, and their majority is now overwhelmingly made up of election-denying extremists—many of whom were actively involved in efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential results.
Of the 222 House Republicans elected in November, more than 150 of them—nearly 70%— voted to overturn the 2020 election results and/or denied the legitimacy of the outcome. Five election-denying Republicans also won open seats in the Senate, bringing the total number of election-denying senators to more than a dozen.
But it’s the House where anti-democracy Republicans can really do damage this year. There are now more election deniers in the House than there were in 2021, and they’re in the majority. This means that Republican extremists have power to set the agenda for the House—that is, if they’re ever able to elect a speaker.
The last Congress, which was controlled by Democrats, was among the most productive in decades, passing several major pieces of legislation that will expand healthcare access, lower healthcare and drug costs, invest in clean energy, invest in domestic manufacturing, and rebuild America’s infrastructure.
For the next two years, control of the federal government will be divided, with Democrats controlling the presidency and the Senate and Republicans leading the House. Given the polarization in today’s political climate, bipartisan compromises or any major legislative achievements are unlikely—especially considering the majority of House Republicans openly tried to subvert the very democracy they’ve sworn to uphold.
What is likely to happen instead?
If the actions of the Republican Party this week, month, and really, for the past 15 years are any indication, chaos is going to rule the day.
by Keya Vakil
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