It is terribly disappointing, but not at all surprising, that Representative Lee Zeldin would join 125 other members of the House of Representatives in opposing the orderly transfer of the presidency from one administration to another.
Rational voices from the right to the left of the entire political spectrum are as one in saying that the votes were properly cast. The recently resigned head of the Justice Department, Bill Barr, said there was no sign of outcome-tipping fraud. Christopher Krebs, a lifelong Republican, was fired by the president after going on “60 Minutes” and refuting the unsupported claims. State and local election officials from coast to coast agree that there was no massive fraud to tip the election to the Democrats.
President Trump lost, fair and square, yet there are plenty of Americans, Mr. Zeldin among them, who are not ready to accept this fact. The First District of the New York congressman was among a majority of House Republicans who signed an amicus brief to the United States Supreme Court in an absurd bid by the Texas attorney general to overturn the election by throwing out the votes of about 20 million people not residents of Texas. The court rejected the lawsuit, observing, “Texas has not demonstrated a judicially cognizable interest in the manner in which another state conducts its elections.” That’s a polite way of saying, “Get the heck out of here.”
Trained as a lawyer, Mr. Zeldin might have thought better of associating the First District with such a spurious assertion. But, when it comes to Trumpism, there is no level of intellectual bankruptcy or moral hypocrisy he will not stoop to in amplifying the president’s and his supporters’ conspiratorial lies. Our man in the House chose to join in pretending to love the Constitution but use it only as a cloak to cover his own self-interested clinging to the Trump brand and continue to dupe the president’s naive supporters. Would Mr. Zeldin be interested in alleged election improprieties if a Republican had won? Absolutely not. This was purely political, not a matter of principle.
Democratic procedures are not simply rules to be bent for political convenience. They are the expression of the ideals this country holds dear. How far Republicans have fallen since Ronald Reagan’s evocation of a “shining city upon a hill.” True conservatism is an elusive concept, but it can be defined by what it is not, centrally, breaking with the past and ignoring the will of the voters. Whether Mr. Zeldin and the others are traitors is difficult to say. At a minimum, they have violated their oaths of office to faithfully discharge the laws of the land. To them, trust in the American system of free and fair elections is just collateral damage.