The Republicans Who Embraced Nihilism

In Judiciary and Courts, States, Voting On
- Updated

What is left to say about a political party that would throw out millions of votes?

The substance of a lawsuit filed by the State of Texas, and backed by more than 17 other states, would be laughable were it not so dangerous. Texas’ attorney general, Ken Paxton — who is under indictment for securities fraud — asked the Supreme Court to overturn the results of the presidential election in four other states. As a legal matter, this is the rough equivalent of objecting on the grounds that the other side is winning. As political rhetoric, however, it is incendiary.

The Supreme Court was right to toss out the lawsuit. But that the Republican Party tried and failed doesn’t make the attempt any less odious. There are a lot of Republican leaders who, the history books will record, wanted it to succeed.

What makes this entire episode so sad is that the nation needs a vibrant, honest, patriotic opposition party. A party that argues in good faith to win more votes the next time around. Many Republicans, particularly at the state and local level, stood tall and proud against the worst instincts of the national party.

The health of a democracy rests on public confidence that elections are free and fair. Questioning the integrity of an election is a matter of the utmost seriousness. By doing so without offering any evidence, Mr. Paxton and his collaborators have disgraced themselves. Attorneys general are sworn to uphold the rule of law.

At least 126 Republican members of Congress — more than half of all House Republicans — rushed to sign a court filing endorsing the Texas lawsuit. That misuse of the legal system was not restricted to the fringes of the party. The minority leader, Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, said Friday that his name was inadvertently omitted from the original list.

It is particularly astonishing that 17 of the House signatories were elected by voters in the states whose election results Texas was seeking to invalidate. They signed a letter directly challenging the legitimacy of their own victories and the integrity of their own states’ elections.

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