Sometimes the need to state a plain, simple truth displaces the need to analyze.
Now is such a time, and here it is: Congressman Dan Bishop hates democracy.
After Donald Trump lost reelection, the president unsurprisingly launched a campaign of lies and tantrums to seek to delegitimize his defeat. Thankfully, we need only tolerate him for another month until he’ll be gone, at least officially.
Not so the many Republicans who, at every opportunity over the last four years, displayed a willingness to betray the republic in their efforts to curry favor with the man-child in the Oval Office. No ideal has been too high and no principle too sacred to enjoy immunity from Trump’s insatiable expectation that his followers sacrifice everything in fealty to him. Few have been the episodes since 2016 in which Republicans rose above Donald Trump or resisted his demands to debasement.
Those demands continued after his resounding defeat last month at the hands of Joe Biden. (What word but “resounding” suffices? Biden earned seven million more votes than Trump and carried the electoral college by a margin of 306-232 — the precise tally by which Trump beat Hillary Clinton and that he described at the time as a “landslide.”)
As proof of their continued loyalty, Trump has required Republicans to treat his post-election madness as though it were sanity and to pronounce as true that which they know to be false, that he, Donald Trump, won reelection.
After the votes were counted, members of the GOP across the country therefore faced a choice: Honor democracy or succumb to Donald Trump’s continuing demands for loyalty in defiance of facts and reason.
Rank-and-file members of MAGA nation happily continued to bow before Trump. And while there was pushback from some current and former Republican officials — Mitt Romney, Jeff Flake, and Chris Christie come to mind — most abided by Trump’s lies.
Among those who led the charge on behalf of Trump’s attack on America was Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton
In the lawsuit he sought to file last week with the Supreme Court on behalf of the State of Texas, Paxton, who is himself under indictment, sought one thing: an order from the Court tossing out more than 18 million ballots cast in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan, and Wisconsin and requiring the legislatures in those states to disregard the poplar vote and themselves select presidential electors. (It should surprise no one that the people of the states targeted by Texas voted for Biden, while the states’ legislatures are controlled by Republicans. If all four Republican legislatures chose Trump electors, despite the will of their states’ people, a total of 62 electors would change columns, giving Trump 294 electoral votes — 24 more than needed to secure a second term.)
Scholars and commentators condemned the Texas lawsuit as an attack on democracy itself, an attempted coup dressed up as a not-at-all-sophisticated legal challenge.
And so it was. The Court, mere days after Texas filed its request to initiate the lawsuit, unanimously rejected it. (An arcane issue of procedure prompted some observers to incorrectly characterize the outcome as a mere 7-2 loss for Texas. It wasn’t: All nine justices, including the three appointed by Trump, rejected Texas’s core argument.)
The Supreme Court thus joined the dozens of other courts, state and federal, with judges appointed by Democrats and Republicans, in declaring baseless Trump’s accusations of voter fraud and irregularity.
While the lawsuit-cum-coup is no more, we are left to confront the legacy of those who lined up behind Texas’s effort to grievously harm democracy in America, including the 126 GOP House members who joined a friend-of-the-court brief supporting the lawsuit.
Among them was Dan Bishop, whose congressional district runs along the Highway 74 corridor from southeastern Charlotte to Fayetteville and Lumberton. (He wasn’t the lone tar heel to sign the brief. Most of the Republican congressional delegation from North Carolina joined him.)
By casting his lot with Texas, Dan urged the Court to disenfranchise nearly 20 million Americans and install in the Oval Office, by judicial and legislative fiat, the man who undoubtedly lost the popular and electoral contests for the presidency.
Dan’s support for the Texas lawsuit necessarily means he has no concern for democracy, views it as an obstacle to the raw will to power, and would eagerly and unreservedly discard it if doing so served his interests and ambitions.
We owe it to ourselves to frankly say so, and we do not have the luxury of ignoring or rationalizing or normalizing Dan’s disdain for democracy.
In a sense, we should be grateful. Dan told us what he really thinks of self-government and the sovereignty of the people. He told us what he really thinks of America.
Now it’s our turn.
We North Carolinians should ask whether we ought to continue supporting a man who committed ethical sedition by betraying the idea of self-government that lay at the aspirational core of our nation’s political traditions. And we should ask whether, before we can argue amongst ourselves about this or that policy, we must first install in public office people who believe in democracy.