Congress Misses Chance to Calm the Union

Approving Cruz’s election audit would have reduced angst
January 11, 2021 Updated: January 11, 2021


The U.S. Congress missed a golden opportunity to calm nerves and tensions across America when it passed on a bid by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and others to establish a commission to conduct an emergency 10-day audit of election results in disputed states.

Ten days. So little time that would have meant so much.

Just the commission’s being struck—never mind its findings either way—would have helped to restore faith among millions who still believe the election was flawed and their concerns are being dismissed.

If you really want to annoy your neighbor, ignore their complaint about your dog, the fence, or whatever. Just as the greatest compliment you can pay someone is the wish to spend time with them, the greatest affront is to ignore them. Treat them as non-entities. Many Americans are feeling so treated today. To refuse the reasonable request of an investigative commission, given all the allegations of electoral fraud that have come to light, was foolish and sad—sad because yet another institution has failed them.

Congress’s inaction is shared by that of the Supreme Court, when it declined to hear similar charges. This has been strongly criticized, and Congress might expect similar censure.

Indeed, if Congress had expressed more sympathy with the idea of a commission before Jan. 6, it’s possible, even likely, that the violence of that day in Washington would not have occurred. It wouldn’t have been needed. The mob’s actions were not an “insurrection,” as some have claimed. Those actions were an outburst of anger and frustration, a venting that could have been prevented.

The admirable effort by Cruz and other Republicans came after Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri became the first sitting member of the Senate to challenge the election result. Biden is reported to have beaten President Donald Trump by a 306–232 margin in the Electoral College. Under this system, electoral votes are allotted to states based on their congressional representation. But allegations in a number of states have put their results in doubt.

Instead of being embraced as a pressure-release valve and a legitimate response to weeks of unrest and division that may even have cleared up uncertainties, an audit commission was dismissed as beyond the authority of Congress, a “political stunt,” which is how law professor Derek Muller of the University of Iowa described it in a Reuters report.

Reporters in a more responsible media, which the American people enjoyed to some extent in the days before Trump, would have found another professor or two who supported the audit and presented that view as well. With such balance, the proposal wouldn’t have seemed outlandish but reasonable. That quaint notion of balance, a core principle of good reporting, is often missing in news stories today. Now we see why it’s such a fundamental tenet.

Senators might have come away with a more sympathetic view of Cruz’s proposal if they had read balanced accounts of it, and this might have resulted in calmer waters on Jan. 6.

All are interlinked—the media, courts, Congress, the people. Failure of one or two institutions in a democracy can only debase the proper functioning of the state as a whole. This can lead to failed outcomes such as the imprisonment of innocent people, the enactment of bad legislation, or the failure to act on good ideas, as we saw in the case of the audit commission.

Nor does it help when hyperbole replaces rational reflection in the aftermath of chaos. Democratic Rep. Diana DeGette of Colorado called the violence an attempted coup, according to an Associated Press report.

Actually, it wasn’t. Coups normally require tanks and heavy arms and coordinated military-style seizure and sustained control of media centers, political offices, and other vital posts. Nothing like that happened in Washington. What happened was a temporary outburst of protest by people who want their concerns taken seriously, and their president shown proper respect.

When House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) tore up President Trump’s State of the Union address on national television, she drove a dagger into the midriff of America. I can’t recall a more foolish and disrespectful act during a state event in modern American history. As Victor Davis Hanson of the Hoover Institution has said on the Fox News channel, people are mad. They want clarity, fairness, and accountability.

Night after night, Hanson said, we watched in horror as Portland, Seattle, and other cities burned and bled under siege, with much loss of life and many businesses destroyed, the damage amounting to billions of dollars. Yet state governors allowed it to happen.

Because the violence was perpetrated by left-wing zealots, it was tolerated and even praised. This double standard has to stop. One set of rules should apply to all. We have the same problem in Canada.

Trump has called for order. Joe Biden responded by charging that Senators Cruz and Hawley were spreading “the big lie,” referring to a tactic of Nazi fascism, which thousands of Americans fought and died to defeat in World War II. “This kind of vicious partisan rhetoric only tears our country apart,” Cruz said.

I’ve spent many months in the United States of America over the years, paddling the length of the glorious Mississippi River and other waterways, meeting kind and beautiful American people. It wrenches me to see the United States in disarray. You are the West’s leading light; we need you whole, and we need you right. Please get over this peacefully and with the wisdom and generosity that is your legacy. Put rancor aside.

Brad Bird is an award-winning Canadian reporter and editorial writer with a master’s degree in Political Studies. His book “Me and My Canoe” (Pemmican Publications) relates his many wonderful experiences paddling the Mississippi River to New Orleans.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.