WASHINGTON, DC - Congressman Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) today penned an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal on the violence in the Capitol on January 6th. In the op-ed, Crenshaw writes that our founders "sought to avoid the exact situation we saw on Jan. 6. Millions of Americans were falsely led to believe that the final say in the election of our next president lay with a single body, Congress."
Republicans’ Fight Isn’t in Congress
Rep. Dan Crenshaw
On Wednesday the Capitol of the most powerful nation the world has ever known was stormed by an angry mob. Americans surely never thought they’d see such a scene: members of Congress barricaded inside the House chamber, Capitol Police trampled, and four Americans dead. A woman was shot near the elevator I use every day to enter the House floor. It was a display not of patriotism but of frenzy and anarchy. The actions of a few overshadowed the decent intentions of many.
Perhaps we should ask our Founders. They were not oracles, but they were borderline prophets. In Federalist No. 68, Alexander Hamilton lays out the purpose of the Electoral College, arguing that an independent and decentralized body of electors should elect the president. “The choice of several, to form an intermediate body of electors, will be much less apt to convulse the community with any extraordinary or violent movements.”
According to Hamilton, the only people in America who should not be allowed to be named an elector would members of the House and Senate and any “other person holding a place of trust or profit under the United States.” Electors would “exclude from eligibility to this trust, all those who from situation might be suspected of too great devotion to the President in office.”
They sought to avoid the exact situation we saw on Jan. 6. Millions of Americans were falsely led to believe that the final say in the election of our next president lay with a single body, Congress. And so it was no surprise that thousands showed up to make their voices heard. But the belief that Congress has any say whatever in the “certification” of electoral votes has never been true. It has always been unconstitutional and against our Founders’ intent, as it was when Democrats attempted the same stunt in 2005.
Article II of the Constitution lays out a clear role for Congress. “The President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates and the votes shall then be counted.” It does not say “certify.” It does not say “object if you disagree.” It does not say “object and decertify if you feel the state’s certification is wrong.” The only contingency the Constitution provides is in the case of a failure of any candidate to reach an electoral majority.
The good news for those millions of Americans is this: It wasn’t your final say. It wasn’t your last chance. In our system of government, it never is. The concerns about election integrity are real, and they must be heard. The merits of these objections are real and substantive. There have been countless examples of states engaging in irresponsible and unverifiable election practices, casting doubt on election outcomes. Whether it is unverified signatures on mail-in ballots or lax voter-ID laws, a refusal to update registration rolls or a refusal to allow partisan observers to witness counting, there are many practices that must be changed.
The fight for these changes must be America’s greatest priority, because faith in democracy is our most urgent need. Republicans must champion these changes in the states, which the Constitution invests with primary responsibility for conducting elections. That is where our fight is. That is the hard work. And that must be our priority.
Mr. Crenshaw, a Republican, represents Texas’ Second Congressional District