Prioritizing Democracy: Throw the Bums Out
Is it too much to expect our public servants to abide by election results?
Let me not mince words. I’m disgusted by the fact that the Republican party nominated Herschel Walker for a seat in the US senate — and that he actually has a chance of winning. I’m disgusted, but I understand it. It’s simply a cynical tactic. Walker’s limitations are so apparent that even members of his own party have publicly acknowledged his shortcomings. They’ll support him anyway and whitewash his deficiencies, however, in an effort to shift control of the Senate to Republican hands. His supporters in Georgia are willing to entrust their representation to an incompetent senator who hardly presents as a moral exemplar solely because they expect him to toe the line and vote with the Republican leadership. Concerns about competency and character simply take a back seat. Actually, that’s an overstatement. Concerns about competency and character are nowhere to be found.
Of all the people that Republicans could have chosen in the state of Georgia, what does it say about Republicans that they picked Herschel Walker? It seems reasonable to view putting Walker up for this post as being indicative of the quality of decisions that we can expect from this party; and, unfortunately, this nomination is not unique. It’s just a single representation of what’s happening much more broadly. Across the country, the Republican party is putting up unqualified candidates for public office. For me, the litmus test is easy: Anyone who continues to support the big lie and who acknowledges a willingness to subvert future election results is unfit to hold office — at any level. Herschel Walker is just one of many.
Simply focusing on the new crop of election deniers seeking public office in the coming mid-term elections, often in roles with direct authority over election processing, isn’t sufficient. While I view these candidates as being unfit for office, that assessment also applies to the 147 Republican Congressmen — eight Senators and 139 House members — who voted to overturn the 2020 election, the vast majority of whom are up for reelection. Their votes to reject duly authorized electors in the election process should, by itself, disqualify them from any position of public trust.
According to US Code chapter 115, “Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason and shall suffer death, or shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than $10,000; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.” I’m no lawyer but it’s hard to see why this section of the code wouldn’t be pertinent to the actions by these 147 legislators on January 6, when those votes were taken.
Even if the Justice Department fails to seek sanctions in connection with Congressional representatives who sought to override the will of the people, voters shouldn’t follow suit. I’m appalled by how so many of my countrymen are willing to give a pass to these betrayers of our democratic traditions. Most Republicans appear to believe that it’s worth subverting our long cherished democratic principles and practices to avoid Democratic control; and this perspective seems to be at work both at the state and Federal levels. Whatever the sins of the Democrats, however — and I’ll concede that there may be no shortage — those sins don’t compare to the threat to our democracy caused by the Republicans’ failure to abide by election results.
I have little doubt about how history will ultimately look upon the current crop of election deniers; but I’m tired of waiting for that verdict to be handed down. In the most charitable light, those who’ve been duped into believing the big lie despite all the evidence to the contrary may end up being remembered as being naïve and misguided; but those who perpetrated that lie, all the while knowing it to be untrue, will be remembered for sabotaging our democratic norms and traditions; and they will certainly be judged less kindly. These people are still prioritizing their quest for personal power ahead of the public interest of preserving our constitutional democracy. They have no business serving in public office, and the mid-term election isn’t too soon to send that message. To safeguard against having a repeat of the January 6 assault on our Capitol, these election deniers need to be sent packing.
Ira Kawaller holds a Ph.D. in economics from Purdue University and has held adjunct professorships at Columbia University and Polytechnic University. For the bulk of his career, he focused on financial markets and derivative instruments. He ran the New York office of the Chicago Mercantile exchange from 1980 -1996 before founding three derivatives-related consulting business: Kawaller & Company, LLC, the Kawaller Fund, and Derivatives Litigation Services. In past years, Kawaller served on the board of Hatteras Financial Corp (which merged with Annaly Capital Management, Inc.) and participated on their risk committee and compensation committee. He also served on a variety of professional boards and committees, including the board of the International Association of Financial Engineers (now the International Association for Quantitative Finance) and the Financial Accounting Standard Board's Derivatives Implementation Group.