Today, several U.S. Senators and more than several U.S. House members will argue that the results of several states’ elections are invalid. It will be an impotent effort. The protesting parties acknowledge that it won’t even make a difference. So why are they doing it?
They’re trying to make a point.
This is not a strategy employed by one party. These Republicans are doing the same thing a couple Democrats did back in 2017. Objections to electors is not an entirely new thing. Why all the attention this time around? Because in this case, unlike in the past, the losing candidate is also focused on making a point. In the past every other candidate has conceded. No candidate in the past has challenged the results with this quantity of lawsuits. No candidate has taken to social media to arm twist their allies at the level we’ve seen in recent weeks. Unlike in the past, the losing candidate has paved the path forward in fighting the results. The Senators and Representatives today are taking their cue from the President. They know it won’t make a difference.
But they are trying to make point.
The problem, of course, is that when our elected officials seem more interested in making a point than they are in making a difference, everyone loses. When they spend such a massive amount of time on this calculated point-making, they risk ceasing to be champions of their constituents and instead serving as champions solely of their own ideals and political ambitions.
While Cruz, Hawley, and Associates jockey for 2024 positioning, they could be spending their time helping get vaccines deployed, for instance. That would be less dramatic and attract fewer cameras, to be sure, but it would certainly be more helpful. You might not learn Hawley’s name that way, but maybe it would save a life.
It doesn’t seem like that difficult of a decision.
Politicians that seek to make a point plant the seeds that grow into the weeds of our often criticized political system. While it may provide some short-term gains for the politicians in question (no one outside of Missouri knew who Josh Hawley was three months ago), the long term impact is likely to be discontent, cynicism, and apathy toward the process in general.
The bottom line is this: we elect people we hope will make a difference and they far too often invest much more of their time trying to make a point. They campaign when they’re supposed to govern, and we end up paying the price.
I think we can be better than that.