At least partially under the radar Monday was a move by a newly elected member of the House that has opened the door to use of Section 3 of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution to remove from office two top instigators of the fascist insurrection at the Capitol last week.
That section of the Constitution gives Congress the power to remove any lawmakers engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the United States. It is cited in the Article of Impeachment against President Donald Trump, but GOP Senators Josh Hawley of Missouri and Ted Cruz of Texas undoubtedly stand out for having committed that crime as well.
To her credit, the newly elected Democratic Congresswoman from Missouri, Cori Bush, bravely stepped up and submitted legislation demanding the removal of any elected officials involved in inciting last Wednesday’s right-wing insurrection against the United States.
Numerous lawmakers are saying privately to members of the press that the bill is aimed specifically at Hawley and Cruz. Both of these individuals are leaders of the insurrection that came to a head last week; they stood at the head of the mob in hopes of capturing Trump’s voting base and boosting their chances of winning the Republican presidential nomination in 2024.
They had hoped that their actions would give them a high profile among right-wing extremists and white supremacists who would see them as dedicated individuals willing to fight and die for Donald Trump.
What the two fascist-minded senators left out of their calculation is that the 2020 election results would change the balance of forces in U.S. politics. The election ushered in a new influence on the political scene—the broad people’s coalition of labor and all its allies that propelled the Biden-Harris ticket to victory. That victory is now figuring in the unraveling of the grand plans of Hawley and Cruz.
Before the horror show in Washington last week, Hawley and Cruz thought they had it made. They posed as the clean-cut Ivy League graduates who were working tirelessly inside the government to bring about the world desired by the Trump base and the right-wing mobs planning to come to the Capitol. They portrayed an image of themselves as warriors behind enemy lines, fighting to “drain the swamp” from within.
Hawley will indeed be remembered for what he thought would plant his heroic legacy forever—the photo of him outside the Capitol just prior to when it was overrun, pumping a victory fist into the air to salute the Trump mob. And Cruz will be remembered for what he thought would plant his heroic legacy—his speech to the Trumpites before their attack, urging them on to “fight” like hell for the Great Leader Trump.
They relished in all the praise they got from right-wing media, online and off, for fighting the good fight to save civilization from those who would defile it—African Americans, socialists, communists, anyone and everything outside the neo-fascist orbit.
They stuck with it right up until the mobs made it onto the Senate floor. Then, like the two cowards that they are, they went into hiding. They were no longer the leaders of the insurrection which they had encouraged and incited.
They are now being spurned by everyone: the movements that elected Biden and Harris and also the Republicans who were supposed to be their friends.
Bush, who has introduced the bill which could be used to remove them, just joined Congress and is the newest member of the “Squad” in the progressive caucus.
“The names of Cruz and Hawley should go down in history next to people like Benedict Arnold,” Democratic Arizona Rep. Ruben Gallego said yesterday, “They are just traitors to the country and traitors to the Constitution.”
Hawley and Cruz made the news recently as the first senators to be willing to overturn the election, an act of fealty to Trump. The wishes of the American people and the rulings of 62 court hearings be damned; they were the loyalists to Trump.
Now, many of the cowardly Republicans who never said a peep against either of them are displaying their cowardice once again as they disavow any connection with either Hawley or Cruz. They are telling shell-shocked Trump voters who still believe the election was stolen that they never liked Hawley or Cruz anyway.
Former Missouri GOP Sen. John Danforth said he was sorry he ever supported Hawley, someone he mentored and took by the hand for years. GOP Sen. Ben Sasse called Hawley a “real dumbass.”
In the late 1860s, the 14th Amendment was added to the Constitution with the Civil War still burned into the minds of Americans. It was a time when right-wing lawmakers whose cause had already lost were nevertheless still engaging in insurrection against the United States. They were unwilling to accept the defeat of the Confederacy.
The lawmakers who wrote the Amendment understood, however, that the right-wing lawmakers posed a real threat to the nation going forward.
Then, as now, such politicians specialized in being the white-collar inside-the-government insurrectionists while the mobs they incited engaged in racist violence in a country where they could not accept equality for people who had once been slaves.
The people who drafted that amendment had in mind precisely the Josh Hawleys and Ted Cruzes of their day.
Let no one think that either of them has learned any lessons after having lost the last round in their fight as cheerleaders for the insurrectionist Trump. No one should buy the argument that they should be forgiven as the nation tries to heal itself.
Hawley rejects any notion that he has done anything wrong. “I will never apologize for giving voice to the millions of Missourians and Americans who have concerns about the integrity of our elections,” Hawley said. “That’s my job, and I will keep doing it.”
Hawley is a fully committed fascist determined to push the overthrow of American democracy as far as he can.
Cruz, on the other hand, is already shrinking back from the speeches where he charged Trumpites with the job of making America safe from “Marxists and leftists who stole the election” from Trump. His cowardly backtracking, however, is no reason to step back from making him pay for his crime.
Action must be taken against both Hawley and Cruz to show that this country will not tolerate attacks on democracy as if they were nothing more than the putting forward of political viewpoints with which we disagree.
It matters not whether the two are true fascists and that they just did what they did to score political points with Trump voters.
The bottom line is that their words and deeds severely weakened democracy and resulted in real death and destruction. It’s also a reality that the coup they fomented is not over; it is ongoing. And Section 3 of the 14th Amendment spells out clearly what must now happen to them.
For the survival of democracy and for the good of the nation, the law of the land laid out in the Constitution must be carried out. Hawley and Cruz must lose their seats in the United States Senate.
John Wojcik is Editor-in-Chief of People’s World. He joined the staff as Labor Editor in May 2007 after working as a union meat cutter in northern New Jersey. There, he served as a shop steward, as a member of a UFCW contract negotiating committee, and as an activist in the union’s campaign to win public support for Wal-Mart workers. In the 1970s and ’80s he was a political action reporter for the Daily World, this newspaper’s predecessor, and was active in electoral politics in Brooklyn, New York.