Josh Hawley: Seditionaries Cannot Be Senators


Aidan Phillips

Josh Hawley became a Republican U.S. Senator representing Missouri in 2019 after defeating the two-term Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill. In his time in Congress, he has often been characterized as a “Trump loyalist,” and as a more right-wing Republican. He has supported Donald Trump’s family separation policy, the construction of a wall on our southern border, opposed extending anti-discrimination laws from private entities to LGBT people, supported Trump’s trade policies, and much more. In terms of his policies and ideology, he is very similar to Trump.


Donald Trump and many of his supporters in government and across America, since the election of Joe Biden, have made baseless claims of widespread voter fraud coordinated by the Democratic Party. There is no credible evidence that there was widespread voter fraud in the 2020 general election that could come anywhere close to changing the results of the election. The Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice have said there is no evidence of these claims of mass voter fraud. All of Trump’s lawsuits against several states which allege mass voter fraud or election manipulation have been rejected. Courts have said it was because there was no sufficient evidence or even clear and specific claims. There’s no evidence that a massive number of dead people voted, a massive number of illegal immigrants voted, a massive number of ballots were counted multiple times, or the data was manipulated through Dominion voting machines. Recounts and audits have been done, and still there has been no evidence of these claims. 


Senator Hawley has claimed that many states were subject to mass voter fraud or election manipulation, particularly in Pennsylvania, mainly on the basis that they did not follow their own election laws. This is wrong. Firstly, the Supreme Court ruled that what states did was lawful, because states have the right to determine their own election procedures. Secondly, in Hawley’s more specific claim, he says that a law implemented last year, allowing no-excuse absentee voting, was unconstitutional according to the state constitution of Pennsylvania. This claim is false. Section 14a of the Pennsylvania state constitution which addresses absentee voting policies reads as follows:

“The Legislature shall, by general law, provide a manner in which, and the time and place at which, qualified electors who may, on the occurrence of any election, be absent from the State or county of their residence, because their duties, occupation or business require them to be elsewhere or who, on the occurrence of any election, are unable to attend at their proper polling places because of illness or physical disability or who will not attend a polling place because of the observance of a religious holiday or who cannot vote because of Election Day duties, in the case of a county employee, may vote, and for the return and canvass of their votes in the election district in which they respectively reside.”

Section 14a does not prohibit the expansion of absentee voting (e.g. universal mail-in ballots), but rather outlines the baseline provisions for absentee voting. In October 2019, Pennsylvania’s General Assembly passed Act 77 to permit no-excuse absentee voting. Act 77 was not ruled as unconstitutional by the state Supreme Court, and recently the state Supreme Court rejected a lawsuit challenging the law as unconstitutional. For Hawley to base his objection on claims that can be disproved by either simply reading state constitutions or the rulings of Supreme Courts is very concerning, because it means that he is either ignorant of what the laws are (despite having a long background in law) or he is objecting to the election results in bad faith. The latter would be the most likely. 


Hawley was the first U.S. senator to announce that he was going to object to the results of the election of Joe Biden on Jan. 6 when the electoral college votes would be certified for Joe Biden. Hawley stated beforehand, “I cannot vote to certify without pointing out the unprecedented effort of mega-corporations, including Facebook and Twitter, to interfere in this election, in support of Joe Biden.” This statement echoes the same conspiracy theories and lies Trump and his colleagues have been pushing since election day. After Hawley announced his plan to object, many other congresspeople joined him, and many justified objecting with the same false claims Hawley made. On Jan. 6 when the electoral college votes were being certified, eight senators (including Hawley) and 139 house representatives supported at least one objection. 


Hawley was not protecting “election integrity,” he was complicit in and supportive of an attempt to overturn the results of the presidential election to advance his own political agenda despite the people of America rejecting that political agenda. Donald Trump has made it explicitly clear that voter fraud claims are an effort to undermine democracy, by threatening legal consequences against the Georgia Secretary of State if he did not “find” enough votes to overturn the results in the state. The refusal of the incumbent president to agree to a peaceful transition of power, and instead falsely decrying the results as fraudulent, delayed the transition process in the midst of multiple social crises. Falsely accusing political opponents of rigging the election is unprecedented and endangers democracy. The continued support of Donald Trump (as Hawley continued his support for Trump and echoed his lies), is a subversion of democracy.


On Jan. 6, a group of pro-Trump protestors came to a rally in Washington D.C. that they were invited to by Trump himself. This rally was organized to protest and challenge an election that these Trump supporters believed was stolen and fraudulent, a sentiment shared by Josh Hawley. Hawley early in the day raised and pumped a fist towards the pro-Trump protestors in support of them. Later on in the day, after Trump and others had given speeches to the protestors, the protestors became violent and began raiding the Capitol building while the electoral college votes were being certified, because they believed the election had been stolen from the American people. The Capitol building was vandalized, congresspeople were evacuated, pipe bombs were found nearby, and five people died in the violence caused by the pro-Trump mob. These were not just rioters, these were seditionaries committing acts of terrorism. Now, because of the same lies pushed by Hawley and others, the FBI suspects that right-wing extremists will continue their violence and occupy state capitol buildings across the nation on inauguration day.


No matter how much Hawley and other Trump loyalists want to deflect responsibility for the tragedy that happened on Jan. 6, they were the ones who incited sedition by attempting to undermine democracy. Hawley pushed lies and echoed conspiracy theories to justify his attempt to overturn the results of the election, and the terrorists on Capitol Hill believed those same lies he told them. The attack may not have happened if Trump and his supporters in government had accepted the results of a fair election and told their supporters across America to do the same. Hawley attempts to present himself as an American populist, but an American populist would never undermine American democracy because he didn’t like the results of an election. There’s one principle that every American is supposed to agree on, regardless of all other political views they may have: Americans honor the election system and honor the results of fair elections unconditionally. This principle is what keeps America, and every other democratic society, ultimately unified. It is what the United States was supposed to be founded on. Government for the people, and government BY the people. Hawley could not even respect this basic principle. By refusing to follow this basic principle and subverting democracy, Hawley helped inspire the insurrection on Capitol Hill. 


For these reasons, Josh Hawley must either resign or be expelled from Congress should he refuse to resign. All Missourians ought to call for his resignation or expulsion. His actions must have consequences, or else democracy may lose. Seditionaries cannot be senators.


Resist STL, a grassroots organization committed to social justice, is leading a local movement in St. Louis to pressure Josh Hawley to resign from office. To help the movement, find Resist STL on social media and online for information. (Instagram: @ resiststl; Facebook: @ resistSTL) 


Use your voice, sign petitions, donate, and organize to get Hawley out.