The Attempted Coup and You
Updated: Nov 22, 2021
It's really weird to be an American after January 6th, 2021. Before January 6th, I never once worried about whether or not we would have a normal inauguration day after a presidential election. But this time, I did worry, because we had an attempted coup on January 6th. And that's been a lot to take in.
A coup is a lawless, often violent, effort to take over a government by force. We don't usually have them in the United States, because peaceful transfers of power are kind of our thing. For 244 years, every time a new president has been elected, the president who is leaving office is civil about it. Not exactly happy, but not violent either.
So watching a violent mob storm the Capitol was really upsetting. I'm upset with Trump for riling up his most radical followers just before they stormed the Capitol. And I'm upset that he let the rioters pillage and murder inside the Capitol for hours before he gave a half-hearted speech asking them to stop. His aides said he was delighted to watch the rioters because he knew they were doing it for him. And I believe those aides, because in Trump's speech telling the rioters to stop, he told the rioters that he loved them and that they were very special.
But I'm also upset with Josh Hawley. For those of you who have lives that don't completely revolve around political news, (I don't have a problem. I can stop any time.) Josh Hawley is a United States Senator from Missouri. He was one of the handful of Republican senators who said it was totally okay to debate the legitimacy of the votes sent by each state's electors.
Hawley did three things I thought were outrageous and really ridiculous. But I can see how those three things might sound legit if you didn't know what they meant. So I am going to address those three things and tell you why Hawley was wrong about all of them.
Hawley seemed to think that the Twelfth Amendment gave him the power to question the legitimacy of the Electoral College votes
Hawley seems to believe that Twelfth Amendment gave him the authority to do this. And I imagine that Trump's crazy lawyers told Trump that the Twelfth Amendment gave Mike Pence the power to throw out votes for Biden and unilaterally decide that Trump really won the election.
When I heard that Hawley was using the Twelfth Amendment, my first thought was, "The Twelfth Amendment? What the hell does that one say?" And just for a little background, I am the kind of nerd who carries a copy of the Constitution in her purse at all times, so if I have to look something up, you know that it's not used a lot. So when I looked it up, I found out why. The Twelfth Amendment is just a list of instructions for Congress and the Vice President that tells them how to count the votes from the Electoral College. The gist of it is that they collect the envelopes that contain the votes, the Vice President gets to open the envelopes, and the members of Congress get to watch. That's it. It does not give the Vice President the power to just throw votes out. And it does not give Congress the power to fight about whether or not they think the votes should count. So I don't know where Hawley pulled this idea out of, but it wasn't the Constitution, if you get my drift.
2. Hawley said that the votes from Pennsylvania should not be counted, because we "just don't know" if a law passed a year ago in Pennsylvania conflicts with their state constitution or not
Hawley said that he didn't think the votes from Pennsylvania should count, because the state of Pennsylvania passed a law about a year before the election that allowed more people to send in their votes by mail.
Why was Hawley talking about the votes in Pennsylvania? It's because after the election, Trump's lawyers went to court in Pennsylvania and said that this law should be struck down, because it conflicted with the Pennsylvania state constitution. When Trump's lawyers made that argument, the court said, dude, if you were really that upset about the new law, then you should have sued right away, not waited a whole year. But here's the thing: if they had wanted to, the court could have said, whoa! I know you should have told us about this a year ago, but yeah, this law totally goes against the Pennsylvania state constitution, so thanks for letting us know! We will totally strike it down.
So Hawley's claim that "we just don't know" if this law conflicts with Pennsylvania's state constitution or not is just baloney. If the court thought the law was unconstitutional, they would have said so. But they didn't. So the law is fine.
3. Hawley thought that the Electoral Count Act gave him the right to question the election results.
The Electoral Count Act was a law passed by Congress after the Hayes-Tilden election of 1876. After that election, a few states sent competing slates of electors to the Electoral College. (Slates is a fancy word for groups.) All of the slates thought that they had the right to be there, because they had either been appointed by a governor or their state's legislature. It was such a mess, that Congress passed the Electoral Count Act to handle a situation like this if it ever happened again.
But let's be clear, Hawley: it was not happening again. In 2020, each state sent only one slate of electors to the Electoral College. Now, there were some Trump supporters who tried to crash the Electoral College by showing up and saying that they were the true electors for their state. But those people had no legitimate claim. They were just some Trump supporters who thought they could get past security and sneak in.
Hawley. Dude. There was no widespread voter fraud. The voter laws in Pennsylvania are fine. And Biden won the Electoral College fair and square. Trump lost, okay? He lost. I know you hate it, and you will probably never admit it, but he lost.
Okay, but this post is called The Attempted Coup and You. So how does it involve you, gentle reader? It involves you because you are a member of this democracy. And democracy requires participation. At the end of the day, our democracy is kind of like Tinkerbell. It's only real if we believe in it. So if we all believe in it, we don't have to tolerate bullies like the rioters who ransacked the Capitol, or their enablers, like Hawley, who pretended to have a valid legal argument for an attempted power grab.
So how can you participate? If you or anyone you know lives in the state of Missouri, you can tell them not to vote for Hawley if he runs for re-election. I have heard that the real reason he engaged in these shenanigans is because he wants to run for president in 2024. So if he does, don't vote for him.
You can also contact your Senator and ask them to punish Hawley. There are two punishments that the Senate could use: censure or expulsion. Censure means that the Senate formally says that one of their members has done something wrong. So censure is basically a way of publicly shaming them for what they did. Expulsion means that the Senate kicks them out.
If you'd like your senator to vote for either of these things, you can give them a call. The United States Capitol Switchboard number is (202) 224-3121. Not sure who your senator is? You can find out by going to:
On the left hand side of this site, just click on the link that says, "contact". You will then see a page that lists all of the senators, and you can find yours by choosing the state you live in.
But whatever you decide to do or not do about Hawley, I wanted to publicly call him out on his B.S. People like Hawley try to use fancy words and sound like they know what they're talking about, in the hopes that other people can't read or question him or think on their own. Unfortunately for Hawley, I can do all three. And if he tries to do anything else that threatens our democracy, I will let you know.