A pro-Trump mob fueled by conspiracy theories stormed the Capitol Wednesday, leaving one woman dead and a nation rattled. Yet, mere hours later, the majority of House Republicans chose to feed into the same debunked ideas that fueled this insurrection by opting to reject Arizona’s electoral votes.
These votes had no material effect on the transition of power. Congress is meeting in a joint session to fulfill its legal obligation to count the Electoral College’s votes, but given that Democrats hold a majority in the House and most Senate Republicans were unwilling to object, there was no path forward, and the vote failed. A majority of both chambers have to reject a state’s votes for an objection to stick.
However, after a day of violent insurrection, it has become too clear just how dangerous it can be to feed into anti-democratic delusions.
Ever since Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks announced his intention to object in early December, the idea gained steam among the Republican caucus; at one point, as many as 14 Republican senators, led by Sens. Josh Hawley (MO) and Ted Cruz (TX), had signed on to object as well.
The objecting members point to baseless allegations of voting irregularities as well as claims that large proportions of their constituents believe the election was stolen as the basis for their stance. However, these Republicans have ignored their own role in fomenting conspiracy theories around the election. Their concerns also fail to account for the overwhelming evidence that there was no widespread voter fraud.
President Donald Trump and prominent Republicans’ focus on the normally mundane counting of the votes turned January 6 into perhaps the last showdown for Trump’s supporters who believed the election had been stolen. Marching from a rally where they were egged on by the president himself, rioters flooded into the Capitol and managed to stall the proceedings.
The day’s events seemed to have a clear effect on Senate Republicans: In the end, about half of the senators planning to object changed their minds. Only six — 12 percent of the Senate Republican caucus — voted to object. However, a whopping 121 House Republicans, or 57 percent of the House Republican caucus, chose to vote in favor of the baseless belief that Arizona’s Electoral College votes were somehow compromised.