What does the Republican Party actually stand for these days? As a Republican, I have been asking myself this question for the past four years of the Donald Trump presidency. It certainly hasn’t been about policy. I think we may get some answers on Wednesday. The junior senator from Missouri, Josh Hawley, will be putting the Republican Party to the test. He preemptively announced that he is planning to challenge the certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory when Congress convenes. Now dozens of other Republicans say they’ll join him.
It used to be that Republicans stood for the principles laid out in the party’s platform. The platform used to be a roadmap for governing. I decided to reread the 2016 Republican National Committee platform, which the party readopted last year. What I read seems to contradict Hawley’s challenge.
The preamble to the 2016 platform states in part: “We believe in the Constitution as our founding document. We believe the Constitution was written not as a flexible document, but as our enduring covenant. We believe our constitutional system — limited government, separation of powers, federalism, and the rights of the people — must be preserved uncompromised for future generations.”
Let’s break this down with each of the constitutional systems.
First, the platform’s position supporting “A limited government system in which the primary leaders have very little governing powers over the decisions and laws that are created without approval from the other branches or leaders within the government.” Limited government is essentially our system of checks and balances. The judicial branch has ruled in 59 cases against Trump and his rejection of the election results and loss to Biden. This system of limited government also gives Congress the responsibility to ratify the election results. As a senator, Hawley has a responsibility to act as a member of Congress, not as a 2024 presidential candidate.
Separation of powers is similar to limited government. The separation of power was specifically added to prevent the abuse of power and avoid autocracy. Trump has attacked our democratic institutions, including the independent courts and the free press. The impeachment of Trump showed that the Republican-dominated Senate had no interest in slowing the dismantling of our institutions or upholding their oath to the Constitution.
Federalism is a system in which power is shared by the federal and state governments. Hawley was Missouri’s attorney general before he ran for the Senate and should have a clear understanding of federalism and election laws. On Dec. 30, Hawley declared, “I cannot vote to certify the Electoral College results on January 6 without raising the fact that some states, particularly Pennsylvania, failed to follow their own state election laws.” Anyone who believes that the Constitution is our founding document and who believes in federalism should believe that Pennsylvania is in charge of its own elections. And that as Missourians, we should stay out of Pennsylvania’s business. Why should a Missourian disenfranchise nearly 7 million Pennsylvania voters?
Finally, the rights of the people. People might be surprised that there is no right to vote in the U.S Constitution. But there have been several amendments (specifically 14, 15, 19, 24 and 26) that protect the right to vote. While we may not have an absolute right to vote, we do have a right to freedom of speech.
Hawley went on to say, “And I cannot vote to certify without pointing out the unprecedented effort of mega corporations, including Facebook and Twitter, to interfere in this election, in support of Joe Biden.” Last I checked, Facebook and Twitter were protected by our freedom of speech. Hawley’s own website describes him as a “Constitutional Conservative.” He graduated from Yale Law School and clerked on the Supreme Court. He should have much more experience in reading and interpreting the Constitution than I have.
From what I can tell, the GOP seems to only stand for “owning the libs” and backing Trump. I want a party that actually believes in principles its members set forward and acts on them. We will see on Wednesday. My hope is that elected Republicans will remember that they took an oath to uphold the Constitution and that the U.S. Constitution must be preserved uncompromised for future generations.
Lynn Schmidt is the Missouri state leader for Stand Up Republic and is a registered nurse. She lives in St. Charles.