Last week, Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley joined with Republican members of Congress to object to counting the Electoral College votes from the states of Georgia and Pennsylvania. Even after hearing a recording of President Donald Trump explicitly pressuring Georgia’s secretary of state to overturn Joe Biden’s win there, Hawley doubled down.
He didn’t stop there, though.
On Jan. 6, as insurgents stormed the Capitol, murdered a Capitol police officer and took control of the building, Hawley sent a fundraising email to his supporters. After the building had been cleared and locked down, Missouri’s junior senator persisted with his objection to counting Pennsylvania’s electoral votes in favor of Biden.
No evidence, not one iota, has shown there were any election irregularities last November. The Electoral College voted on Dec. 14, and they elected Biden and Kamala Harris. Every state chief election officer certified the votes. Trump and his allies have lost dozens and dozens of court cases.
Did Hawley respect the will of the American people? No. Did he take into account the meaning of forcefully objecting to dutifully certified votes? Yes. He just didn’t care. Hawley’s only conviction is his own ambition, therefore the means justified the end, regardless of the political and literal damage.
In the case of last week’s farce and tragedy, Hawley’s goal was to put himself in the lead as Trump’s heir apparent and the early leader for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination. Hawley can no longer serve in a position of public trust.
He should resign immediately.
If he does not, his colleagues in the United States Senate — Republicans and Democrats — should expel him from the chamber. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who joined Hawley in these objections, is also unworthy of public office.
Despite considering himself a conservative Republican, Hawley is more of a Leninist. His aspiration to power includes the possibility of political unrest and the type of violence we saw last week. His is a position of breathtaking and fundamental dishonesty.
This Stanford- and Yale-educated man, who clerked for Chief Justice John Roberts, knows what he’s doing is wrong. In fact, dishonesty is not a strong enough word: Hawley demonstrates signs of sociopathy; he feels no grief or remorse about the damage his actions cause.
A tenet of the old Republican Party was a paramount belief in personal responsibility. Hawley has yet to express regret for the events he helped engineer last week. Instead, he has held himself out as a victim of “cancel culture” and the liberal media.
He claims his opponents wish to silence him and threaten his family. This from the man who took more than 24 hours to issue a statement about Brian Sicknick, the Capitol police officer killed trying to protect the citadel of democracy.
Hawley is intelligent. But he fundamentally misunderstands the movement he wants to corral. Trump’s followers aren’t looking for a replacement, and if they were, it wouldn’t be Hawley. For all of Trump’s faults, and they are endless, he instinctually understands who his people are and what they want from him.
Trump is one of them — someone fundamentally at odds with the elites and who wants to give the world a big middle finger. Hawley is the elite of the elite and expects the MAGA crowd to feel lucky he wants to control them. It is far more likely that in the coming purge of MAGA-world, that Hawley is the first person the tiger eats.
A few years from now, as Hawley sits in his office at a lobbying firm or corporate law firm, he won’t understand what went wrong. He won’t believe that his assault on American democracy and basic decency were not acceptable acts on his part. He will tell himself that America doesn’t deserve him because we weren’t smart enough to understand the gifts he wished to bestow upon us.
We, the American people, on the other hand, should count ourselves lucky: That Hawley was such a prisoner to his own ambition that he showed us who he was before he had a chance to really become something in American politics. Our work with Hawley is not done yet, far from it. Until he is driven from public life, Hawley will be the opponent of every American dedicated to democracy.
Reed Galen is the co-founder of The Lincoln Project.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This op-ed has been updated to correct the educational background of Sen. Hawley.