Cruz, Hawley, & Bleeding Kansas: The Dangers of Demonizing Democracy

My Slate piece today, written on Monday before the violence:

What happens when political parties reject elections and delegitimize democracy? American history tells us clearly: violence and bloodshed. Wednesday’s riot at the Capitol may seem unprecedented, but it was utterly predictable. On Sunday, I tweeted this thread on how attempts to steal American elections almost inevitably lead to violence, and I drafted much of this essay on Monday. While Wednesday’s violence was foreseeable, the question now is what Congress should do about the national leaders who enabled and inflamed this crisis.

Even after Wednesday’s literal assault on democracy, a significant number of Republicans continue to spread baseless conspiracy theories. Indeed, these members cited the spread of those theories in order to justify their decision to object to Wednesday’s Electoral College count, the precipitating event for all of this madness. As a pro-Trump mob was marching to the Capitol right on cue, Sen. Ted Cruz led the objections, swooning that “39 percent of Americans say the election was rigged. … You might disagree, but it is a profound danger to our democracy.” Yes, Ted Cruz spreading these baseless concerns, and then citing those concerns, is indeed a profound danger to our democracy.

American history is instructive in this regard. Specifically, the 1850s “Bleeding Kansas” episode when pro-slavery election fraud produced voting disputes and then a cycle of murders has a lot to teach… more in the link…

Author: Jed Shugerman

Legal historian at Fordham Law School, teaching Torts, Administrative Law, and Constitutional History. JD/PhD in History, Yale. Red Sox and Celtics fan, youth soccer coach. Author of "The People's Courts: Pursuing Judicial Independence in America" (2012) on the rise of judicial elections in America. I filed an amicus brief in the Emoluments litigation against Trump along with a great team of historians. I'm working on "The Rise of the Prosecutor Politicians," a history of prosecutors and political ambition (a cause of mass incarceration), and "The Imaginary Unitary Executive," on the myths and history of presidential power in America.

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