Josh Hawley Wants to Be America’s Most Dangerous Republican
Keep an eye on this guy. He’s Trump without the stupidity or incompetence or personal obnoxiousness or open racism.
If you pay unusually close attention to debates about the American political economy, you will have seen people on the political left saying nice things about Josh Hawley. The Missouri Republican senator is… interesting, is usually the word.
The reason is that he acknowledges that the free market isn’t perfect and argues that his party needs to do more for the working classes. He especially hates Big Tech. He’s even writing a book to be called The Tyranny of Big Tech that’ll be published next year, not by one of those kook-houses like Regnery but venerable old Simon & Schuster itself.
He seems, on those matters, sincere, more or less. But his deeper sincerity rests in his devout pursuit to get his nose farther up Donald Trump’s posterior than any other Republican senator. Hence his pledge, over Mitch McConnell’s protests, to object to the Electoral College vote in Congress on Jan. 6. How do we square these two things? Simple. Ambition.
This guy is burning, aching, hurting to be president. In 2016, at age 36, he ran for attorney general of Missouri. He was in that office for a year and a half before he formed an exploratory committee to run for Senate in 2018. His AG stint was short, but he made a name for himself, investigating Google and Facebook, the Catholic Church, opioid manufacturers, and even his own corrupt Republican governor. All worthy targets—but notice that all are quite newsworthy from the perspective of the young comer who fancies himself a Quixote-cum-savior-of-the-right.
He made short work of poor Claire McCaskill in 2018, in a state that had become pretty deep-fried Trump. Hawley started that campaign by keeping Trump at arm’s length. He skipped a Trump rally. He learned quickly what an error that was. With an assist from David Bossie and Steve Bannon, he got back in Trump’s good graces and has been there ever since.
He is very right-wing. He ran in that Senate race with the backing of the Senate Conservatives Fund, which backs only the most right-wing candidates out there. The Club for Growth gave him $10 million in 2017 to freeze out the competition. His positions, on everything except tech monopolies, are exactly what you’d expect. Build the wall, don’t make bakers bake gay wedding cakes, et cetera.
On the Big Tech companies he excoriates, he doesn’t just object to their economic power but also introduced a bill that seeks to punish them for signs of political bias (against conservatives, natch). His press office once tweeted: “The entire moderation process of these big tech companies is shrouded in secrecy because they refuse to make their protocols public. If tech giants want to keep their government-granted immunity they must bring transparency and accountability to their editorial processes.”
And it’s obvious why he’s doing what he’s doing next Wednesday: to be the post-Trump Trump candidate. In a Trump-less 2024 GOP presidential primary, that Jan. 6 tweet from Trump about what a hero Josh Hawley is will be gold (of course, if Trump runs then Hawley will be just another loser).
He’s got McConnell furious at him. Hawley’s objection to the Electoral College vote will force GOP senators to choose between loyalty to Trump and, you know, recognition of earthly reality, which will obviously be uncomfortable for them. And Hawley doesn’t care much. Politico reported that McConnell set up a conference call of Republican senators to press Hawley to explain himself, and Hawley didn’t even show up.
Meanwhile, Nebraska’s Ben Sasse, also eyeing 2024, has established himself as the non-Trump, non-Hawley pole. He wrote on Facebook: “We have a bunch of ambitious politicians who think there’s a quick way to tap into the president’s populist base without doing any real, long-term damage. But they’re wrong – and this issue is bigger than anyone’s personal ambitions. Adults don’t point a loaded gun at the heart of legitimate self-government.” Things have reached a creepy point when I’m applauding and cheering for Ben Sasse.
For Hawley’s ploy to triumph, both houses of Congress have to agree to reject the elector certificates, in which case the election would be tossed to the House, which would vote by state delegation (that is, each state delegation would have one collective vote). Republicans will control the state delegation count in the next Congress 26-22-2, so Trump would win re-election.
But it’s not going to happen. The House will still be in Democratic hands, so the House will vote to certify the electors. The Senate likely will too, since most people assume that Mitt Romney, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, and now Sasse and possibly others, will vote with reality.
Hawley knows what reality is, as do the 140-odd House Republicans who say they’re going to vote against certification. But as with all actors throughout history who are motivated by ideology over fact, there is a greater reality, which is that America must be saved from the Godless hordes, and saved by Josh Hawley. No mere facts must be permitted to get in the way of that.
Keep an eye on this guy. He’s Trump without the stupidity or incompetence or personal obnoxiousness or open racism. He may be the most dangerous Republican in America.