The most fundamental pillar of democracy is, by definition, ensuring that political parties respect the will of the people, no matter what or whom the public votes for. Any break with this is an attack on the foundations of this republic – an attack that again could have very real and violent consequences.
So, as Americans head to the polls to choose their next congressional representatives, this fact should weigh heavily in their decision: if the Democrats lose, they will accept the election result; if the Republicans lose, their members, including some in the party’s upper ranks, will likely question the legitimacy of the outcome or allege the midterm elections were robbed in some form.
This electoral denial representing the view of the majority of the GOP caucus is reason enough to believe that the Republican Party does not deserve to control either house of Congress right now. Americans should vote with that in mind and prevent Republicans from winning on Tuesday. What better message can the electorate send than to show the GOP that extremism and voter denial will not be tolerated at the ballot box?
Of course, millions of voters support the GOP not because of their no-election vote, but despite it. They agree with the party’s positions on taxes or abortion, do not support the idea of voting for the Democrats’ legislative platform and are ready to turn a blind eye to the antidemocratic turn of the GOP. Asking them to become single-issue voters in this election is a tall order.
But even beyond rejecting the election, there are plenty of other reasons why voters should reject the prospect of a GOP majority in the House and Senate. Just take a look at what the Republicans have sworn to do if they can overthrow Congress, starting with their threat to launch a series of what appear to be nothing more than bogus investigations.
Republican leaders have said they intend to dig into Hunter Biden, for example, who is already under investigation by the Justice Department. But the president’s son is not a government employee, and wasting Congress’s time and money pursuing him is nothing more than a political attack aimed at smearing the president’s reputation as he approaches. 2024. Just ask yourself: Would Hunter Biden be under congressional investigation? led by Republicans if he was not the son of the Democratic president?
The answer is of course no. But that’s part of the GOP’s attempt to distract — and potentially cripple — ongoing critical investigations into Trump and attempts to overturn the 2020 election results. That’s why many Republicans are eager to open impeachment investigations against Biden, though they did not specify what the president’s impeachable offenses were. They hope their investigations of his son will pave the way for impeachment proceedings, but the fact is there is no legitimate reason to open an impeachment inquiry against Biden. As Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas admitted, his party may well impeach Biden “whether warranted or not.”
Republicans have also taken aim at the House Jan. 6 committee, with some suggesting they may investigate the committee members themselves, as well as Attorney General Merrick Garland and the FBI. To be clear, congressional investigations, whether conducted by Democrats or Republicans, have often been politically motivated. But the House inquiry into January 6 is a genuine attempt at fact-finding, which is crucial to understanding exactly what happened that day. In an ideal world, the committee’s findings would inform legislation that could prevent this kind of assault on American democracy from happening again. The investigations proposed by Republicans, however, are purely political and serve no greater purpose than to blunt yet another tool to strengthen the country’s Democratic safeguards.
Republicans clearly plan to use Congress as an opposition research firm for their campaigns heading into 2024, not to adopt the kind of conservative agenda that some voters may sincerely support. And that’s precisely why the Republican Party today – with its complete conversion to Trumpism – is simply unfit to govern: Because it doesn’t want to.
This reality not only impacts the trajectory of American democracy, but also the health of other democracies around the world, the economy, and the entire planet. Time and time again, the GOP has shown that it is unwilling to respond to urgent crises. McCarthy, the Republican leader, has, for example, threatened to withdraw US financial support to Ukraine as it retaliates against the Russian invasion of its territories.
And with a global recession in the forecast, the last thing the public needs is a legislature that isn’t interested in working with the executive branch to quickly get help to those who need it most. A recession requires a responsive government – a government that can be quick to provide relief and adjust fiscal policy as needed. The longer it takes Congress to act in a recession, the deeper the recession will be. (And while Republicans like to talk about inflation on the campaign trail, most economists say they haven’t provided any plan that would actually improve the situation.)
What the public needs is a government that can avoid the worst of a recession. But Republicans only have plans to make matters worse, proposing to return to their ways of using the debt ceiling — putting the faith and credit of the US government on the line — as a bargaining chip to cut spending. .
None of this is to say that voters should ever view Republican candidates as inherently disqualified for office or that Democrats shouldn’t be challenged. On the contrary, as this editorial board has stated, democracy requires at least two healthy parties, and rebuilding a more moderate, anti-Trump Republican party is crucial to saving the republic. The GOP desperately needs leaders who, regardless of their views on taxes or welfare, believe in the fundamentals of democracy. But sadly, even some of the most moderate Republican candidates for Congress seem to have no desire to loosen Trump’s grip on the party leadership.
The GOP has more than done its part to demonstrate that its loyalty is to Trump and his movement, not to the interests of the American public or even to the party’s purported political goals. With each passing day, Republicans are working harder and harder to align themselves with autocrats and far-right extremists. And it’s time to judge them by the company they keep. This year alone, they have invited Viktor Orbán, the far-right and anti-democratic Prime Minister of Hungary, and Giorgia Meloni, the new Italian Prime Minister and leader of a neofascist party, to their various events and conferences.
This iteration of the Republican Party — with its open disdain for US elections, its allegiance to far-right autocratic movements, and its cavalier attitude toward political violence — is one of the most dangerous political movements in the world today. This, of course, does not mean that its members hold the most odious views or that they would establish the most repressive government by any means. But that is to say that the Republican Party is actively fanning the flames of the global war on democracy, and it will only get worse if it does so while controlling the levers of the most powerful government in the world.
Voters should not elect a GOP majority in Congress — and Americans should be especially wary of election deniers on the ballot. The only way to protect American democracy is to prevent those who attack it from controlling it. And the only ones who have the power to do so are the voters. It’s time for them to use it.
Editorials represent the opinions of the Editorial Board of The Boston Globe. Follow us on Twitter at @GlobeOpinion.