Ben Sasse bravely announces he will not support a coup. You're welcome, America!
Nebraska Republican Sen. Ben Sasse has an important message to deliver to you, the American public, from himself, Nebraska Republican Sen. Ben Sasse. He (that is: Nebraska Republican Sen. Ben Sasse) has had it up to here with Donald Trump's shenanigans, and he (again, Nebraska Republican Sen. Ben Sasse) will simply not go along with them anymore. That, my friends, is the Nebraska Republican Sen. Ben Sasse promise. Signed, sealed, delivered.
In a lengthy, seemingly out of the blue, post on his official Facebook page, Sasse announced with the air of someone who definitely isn't looking for a congratulations ( nope, no sir, not at all, oh please, you're just too kind) for the fact that he "will not be participating in a project to overturn the election" when the Senate convenes to certify the Electoral College vote on Jan. 6.
Please, join me in congratulating this man for having the strong moral convictions necessary to very publicly not support a coup, and instead simply fulfill his basic constitutional duties. Bravo, senator!
Over the course of his over 2,200-word manifesto, Sasse systematically lays out the extremely obvious points that:
1) Sure, I technically could overturn the election if I wanted to. But, don't worry, I don't. Becaaaaause ...
2) There hasn't actually been any credible evidence of election fraud (duh) and ...
3) If there was, the president's many qualified legal representatives would have proven them in court. Buuuuuuuut ...
4) Okay, so maybe there was a little election fraud, but nothing to light your hair on fire over. Soooo ...
5) Seriously, don't worry about it. Especiallyyyyyyyy ...
6) Other Republicans (Josh Hawley, you huckster, I, Nebraska Republican Sen. Ben Sasse, am lookin' at you here) who know Trump's whole "stolen election" shtick is total BS, but are too chicken to say so, which is whyyyyyyy ...
7) After much soul-searching and garment-rending, I've decided to accept the reality that Joe Biden won the 2020 election. Case closed. God bless America, and God bless me, Nebraska Republican Sen. Ben Sasse.
Assuming you have the time and stomach for 2,000 words that could just as easily have been a tweet saying something to the effect of, "Don't be ridiculous, of course Joe Biden won. C'mon now," you can read Sasse's entire statement below.
Sasse is, among other things, positioning himself as the polar opposite of Hawley, who one day earlier announced his intention to officially challenge Biden's Electoral College win, thereby ensuring an embarrassing floor debate that will endear him to the president's MAGA cultist, but won't actually accomplish much else. While Sasse didn't mention Hawley by name, his assertion that "when we talk in private, I haven’t heard a single congressional Republican allege that the election results were fraudulent — not one," seems conspicuously pointed at his colleague from Missouri in particular.
"Instead," Sasse notes, "I hear them talk about their worries about how they will 'look' to President Trump's most ardent supporters."
Which raises the obvious point that Sasse is just as focused on how he will look as any other Republican.
Consider that for years Sasse has been maneuvering himself to become the heir apparent to former Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake's brand of "oh woe is me, why can't we all just get along" tongue-clucking admonishment of the Trump administration. And while he may genuinely be concerned, or disappointed, or troubled by whatever ghoulish scheme the president is cooking up at any given moment, he has also spent his time in the Senate voting for Trump's agenda a whopping 86% of the time. Sasse did, after all, vote to clear Trump as "not guilty" on both counts during the president's impeachment, as well as support the GOP effort to block any witnesses from testifying during the trial.
It's hard then to see Sasse's sudden public support of accepting Biden as the electoral winner — something he'd likely be doing all along, if his party wasn't riddled with lesser-skilled con artists and opportunists — as a principled stance. Instead, it's the same sort of political posturing that Hawley has done at the other end of the spectrum; Sasse has staked his claim as the "responsible, concerned" senator to Hawley's bombastic MAGA enthusiasm. Each man, correctly, has done the political calculus to know there's a base of support waiting for them at the right, and even-righter, wings of the GOP, and has made the leap to stand as the new face of Republicanism as the party searches for meaning After Trump.
Which is to say, there's an extremely good chance we'll see both Hawley and Sasse running for the White House sometime soon: Hawley as the nationalist bomb-thrower, and Sasse as the person with the same legislative priorities, but at a slightly lower volume.
If he could, Ben Sasse would run for president by going door to door to show you the pearl-shaped indentations in his palms earned from years of superhuman clutching. But until then, he'll write lengthy Facebook posts about decency and decorum and the spirit of America, and hope people remember him as the guy who did what he should have done all along as a bare minimum gesture of his patriotism (and self-promotion). Don't buy it now, and don't buy it in four-to-eight years when he tries to convince the country to vote for him.