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Targeting democracy, Ted Cruz bristles at criticism of his antics

Ted Cruz's position is he should be allowed to try to overthrow election results in peace, without a whole lot of hassle and criticism.
Image: Ted Cruz
Senator Ted Cruz, R-Tx., talks to reporters before heading into a Judiciary Committee hearing on Oct. 22, 2020.Samuel Corum / Getty Images file

Over the weekend, eleven Senate Republicans, led by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) announced plans to object on Wednesday when Congress confirms Joe Biden's election victory. As we discussed earlier, the far-right contingent defended its gambit with a deeply strange written statement that (a) points to the Compromise of 1877 as if it were a good thing, which is insane; and (b) fails to make any actual arguments, instead citing public "distrust" that was created by a Republican misinformation campaign.

It wasn't just Democrats who were quick to denounce Cruz's dangerous campaign. "A fundamental, defining feature of a democratic republic is the right of the people to elect their own leaders," Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) said in a statement of his own. "The effort by Senators Hawley, Cruz, and others to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in swing states like Pennsylvania directly undermines this right.... The senators justify their intent by observing that there have been many allegations of fraud. But allegations of fraud by a losing campaign cannot justify overturning an election. They fail to acknowledge that these allegations have been adjudicated in courtrooms across America and were found to be unsupported by evidence."

Soon after, Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) added, "The egregious ploy to reject electors may enhance the political ambition of some, but dangerously threatens our Democratic Republic.... "I could never have imagined seeing these things in the greatest democracy in the world. Has ambition so eclipsed principle?"

The Texas Republican is apparently aware of the pushback, and he'd like his critics to back off.

Appearing on Fox News on Sunday, Cruz griped that critics of the charge he's leading to rile up Republicans to challenge the election results should "tone down the rhetoric" and "calm down." ... "This is already a volatile situation," Cruz said. "It's like a tinderbox and throwing lit matches into it."

I can appreciate why this might seem a little bewildering -- indeed, the point of comments like Cruz's is to blur the lines of reality -- but the Texas Republican is effectively making the case that people should stop giving him such a hard time about his attacks on our democracy.

As many in his party try to overturn the results of an election, convincing their far-right followers to believe discredited nonsense, Cruz would have people believe that others are throwing lit matches into a tinderbox. The rhetoric has become excessive, the GOP senator added, among those who want to honor election results, not those who are trying to nullify them.

In other words, Cruz's position is he should be allowed to try to overthrow election results in peace, without a whole lot of hassle and criticism.