Each day that goes by, the credible excuses for the president’s position further evaporate: His lawyers fail to allege evidence that, even if proved true, could reverse results; lawsuits are dropped. Meanwhile, the president’s allies muse about Republican state legislatures defying the result of the vote and certifying an alternative slate of electors, contravening the actual will of the people. Each day that goes by, the refuge many elected Republicans have taken in legitimate post–Election Day procedure becomes less tenable. Each day, it becomes more urgent that Republicans and conservatives speak in defense of institutions and in defiance of the president’s posture.
Republicans, with good reason, think of ourselves as the party of the Constitution. We take pride in the men and women whom Trump has nominated to the judiciary and whom the Republican-led Senate has confirmed. They are men and women who promise to apply the law and Constitution as written. We have confidence they will preserve the rule of law that has so blessed our country. But sound laws applied by worthy judges alone will not preserve a Republic.
The Republican form of government guaranteed by our Constitution requires citizens to do an unnatural thing: to willfully submit to the rule of politicians they passionately oppose. It asks those elected rulers, in turn, to govern with magnanimity out of a commitment to a shared public trust, not in spite or in pursuit of retribution. No matter how well designed a Constitution, without this shared commitment, a republic’s days are numbered.