When electoral votes are counted in a joint session of Congress on Wednesday, 13 Republican senators and about two dozen GOP House members will, according to their public statements, try to block acceptance of electors from as many as six states and thereby aid President Donald Trump in his deranged and anti-democratic attempt to hold on to the presidency.

The ploy will not work, of course, because any challenge must be sustained by a majority vote of both houses of Congress, and the Democratic House majority will never let that happen. It also will not happen because there is a clear split among Republicans who continue to support the Constitution and accept President-elect Joe Biden’s election victory and those Republicans who either are dumb enough to believe the wild and bogus claims of election fraud or are eager to advance their own ambitions by appeasing Trump’s loyal legion of malcontents.

Two who fall into the latter category are Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley. These two are not stupid enough to believe any of the nonsense being peddled by Trump and his crew of incompetent lawyers. Both went to Ivy League law schools and served as Supreme Court clerks. They know there is no chance their scheme to overthrow the duly chosen electors will work. More important, they know that Trump has lost in every court in every state where he challenged the results, as well as in the conservative-dominated Supreme Court. In their shriveled little hearts, they have to know Biden won fairly.

But Cruz and Hawley both want to run for president in 2024, and they want to win the favor of the hardcore Trumpists who are now the key voters in Republican primaries. Thus, these two men who fancy themselves as patriots and leaders are groveling before a mob of conspiracists and consciously undermining American democracy.

Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse, one of the few remaining principled Republicans in Congress, said Cruz, Hawley and their confederates are “playing with fire.”  Sasse correctly identified their cynical ploy as the work of “ambitious politicians who think there’s a quick way to tap into the president’s populist base without doing any real, long-term damage.”

Sasse also said he has not talked to a single Republican senator or representative who actually believes Biden did not win, but they fear Trump and they fear their own voters and so are going along with the charade.

Those Republicans who are doing the wrong thing out of fear are cowards. Those, like Cruz and Hawley, who are doing it out of calculating ambition are something far worse. God help us if either one becomes president.

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