The most strident Trumpists continue to rant, without evidence, that the election was fraudulently flipped to Biden. Others say they merely have questions about voter-fraud allegations and oppose Biden’s certification as a protest to the system. Anti-anti-Trumpers point to Senator Barbara Boxer and Representative Stephanie Tubbs Jones’s 2005 objection to President Bush’s re-election, where they complained of “irregularities” and “disenfranchisement.”

However, the context couldn’t be more different: In 2004, the Democratic candidate John Kerry had conceded the election and wasn’t mounting a multipronged “Stop the Steal” campaign. Boxer and Tubbs Jones had no intent to overturn the election. Besides, Republicans back then derided the objection as a “travesty” and said that Boxer and Tubbs Jones were acting like sore losers and conspiratorial nutjobs. This time, the Republicans are carrying out the candidate’s wishes, aiding his delusional effort to overturn clear results, and playing to the loons on their side of the aisle.

Sure, Senator McConnell will probably vote to certify the election, just as he has privately called on his fellow Republican senators to do. But he is not raising his voice in public calling on Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley not to raise a formal objection on January 6, or telling the dozens of GOP House members why they shouldn’t either. Just like McConnell didn’t raise his voice when Trump started unfurling this lie in the wake of the election.