The Republican Party And Trump As Fool’s Gold (II)

By Ikenga Chronicles January 7, 2021

The Republican Party And Trump As Fool’s Gold (II)

— Kennedy Emetulu

Now, having failed in the proper forum to air this matter, which is the court, Cruz and his friends want to perform a coup on the floor of Congress today. Cruz wants us to believe that their objection today is in line with a “long precedent of Democratic Members of Congress raising objections to presidential election results, as they did in 1969, 2001, 2005, and 2017.” He noted that “in both 1969 and 2005, a Democratic Senator joined with a Democratic House Member in forcing votes in both houses on whether to accept the presidential electors being challenged.” But, of course, the way it’s presented by Cruz acontextually and without even a

First, the Electoral College count in Congress on January 1969 was on the back of a very bitter election won by the Republican, Richard Nixon. His opponent on the Democratic side was Hubert Humphrey who, like Mike Pence, was the outgoing Vice President. Humphrey won the Democratic nomination because President Lyndon Johnson did not seek reelection. Before the meeting in Congress, all procedures had been followed. Nixon won 301 Electoral College votes, Humphrey 191 and the candidate of a third party, American Independent Party, George Wallace, the ardent segregationist, won 46 Electoral College votes from five states. So, clearly, the first difference to note is that there were three candidates with Electoral College votes in 1969 unlike now when we have only two candidates, Joe Biden and Donald Trump.

Okay, what is Cruz referring to? He is referring to the challenge on the day raised by Representative James O’Hara of Michigan and Senator Edmund Muskie of Maine who, following the procedure laid down, objected in writing to the counting of an elector from North Carolina for George Wallace. The elector in question was Dr. Lloyd W. Bailey who was a Nixon elector switching to Wallace in what became known as the “faithless elector” problem. Note the argument. These guys were Democrats. In fact, Muskie was the running mate to Humphrey on the Democratic ticket that lost the election. But they were not objecting to stop Nixon from being president. They were objecting to the vote of an elector in North Carolina being counted for Wallace instead of Nixon, their opponent, who won the state.

Ordinarily, they had no reason to do it because it was not in their interest to help Nixon garner more Electoral College votes, but they did. None of Nixon’s party men or women were interested because in their calculation it did not stop Nixon being declared president. But these two, understanding that they have to stand to defend the law and democracy, despite being in another party, stood up and opposed the vote being counted for Wallace. They stood up to act in favour of their Republican opponent because that was what the law stated, at least as they understood it. We need to note also that long before this time, immediately after the election, Hubert Humphrey had conceded to Nixon. This was what happened and that was the case that raised the debate about “faithless electors” which has raged on since then until July last year when the Supreme Court in the case of Chiafalo v. Washington ruled unanimously that a state may penalize electors who do not cast their ballots for the presidential and vice presidential candidates who won the state popular vote. So, basically, the 1969 Electoral College count objection by the Democrats is not the same as the one being now executed by Cruz and co in any way. It is not a precedent as Cruz claims.

How about the objection or challenge of the 2005 Electoral College count Cruz mentioned? Again, let’s look at the facts. This was the reelection of George W Bush when he narrowly defeated Senator John Kerry. Kerry conceded to Bush before the Electoral College vote count in Congress. He also disavowed any attempt to raise any objection in Congress at the Electoral College count to support him or attempt to stop Bush from being declared president. But the objection by Representative Stephanie Tubbs Jones of Ohio and Senator Barbara Boxer of California was not to stop Bush from being declared president. They stated this clearly in their speech upfront. It was to bring attention to the serious cases of voter suppression in low-income, African-American neighborhoods in Ohio.

In 2001, it was Al Gore, the defeated Democratic candidate acting as President of the Senate in his position as the outgoing Vice President who presided over the Electoral College count in Congress. The event is noted for the robust and firm way Gore threw out all attempts to challenge Bush’s Electoral College count vote in his favour considering that it was the controversial Electoral College votes of Florida that swung it to Bush when the US Supreme Court stopped the recount. In 2017, we saw outgoing Vice President Biden fiercely swatting away all challenges against Donald Trump’s election to declare him President-Elect.

Gore and Biden did not act like authoritarians, they actually followed the provisions of the Constitution and the Electoral Count Act 1887. The Electoral College count in Congress is not meant to be the place to begin to re-litigate the vote counts once it has been confirmed at “safe harbor.” It is supposed to be a routine process offering Congressmen and women an opportunity to object, but not derail the process already determined. The whole idea of giving Congressmen and women the opportunity to object is to meet the democratic requirement that objections should be heard and to also create an opportunity for ideas to be put forward for future reforms where necessary. There is a reason all previous objections never upturned any vote and, no matter what Cruz and his co-travelers think, today will not be different.


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