When pride comes, then comes disgrace.
– Proverbs, 11-2
A few days ago, President-elect Joe Biden said that, to lead us into a more hopeful spring, on “day one” he will sign an executive order to require masks everywhere he can.
Our local Republican Congressman Chip Roy took to Twitter with this reply to Biden: “on day one I will tell you to kiss my ass.”
Around the same time, Texas attorney general Ken Paxton, in sore need of both legal tutoring and a pardon from the current White House inhabitant, was being handed his own posterior by the U.S. Supreme Court, having humiliated Texas, if not himself, with a laughably ludicrous lawsuit that sought to meddle in the election process of other states, thus cherry-picking a scoundrel’s victory of Donald Trump.
The Supreme Court, even with three fresh Trump appointees and a 6-3 majority of members appointed by Republicans, was having none of it. As with dozens of lesser courts in recent weeks, it found no merit in the claim that the election should be overturned.
Paxton failed in his case but may have succeeded if his goal was to interest Donald Trump in granting him a pardon for his own crimes, alleged by an impressive list of former aides, legal documents, oversight proceedings, and reported FBI investigations.
Paxton’s pseudo-suit before the court earned condemnation from conservative legal scholars, liberal academics, lawyers, editorial boards and election experts. It won the attention of the chairman of the Texas Republican Party, a recent émigré from Florida; when the Supreme Court swatted Paxton’s efforts away like debris on a windy day, the state party chair suggested that Texas and likeminded states should consider seceding from the Union.
The irony was not lost on some of his fellow Republicans. One congressman from Illinois tweeted that another Illinoisan, one nicknamed Honest Abe, had settled the secessions issue quite some time ago, with the help of a few corps of Union troops. It seems we should worry less about keeping confederate monuments in place and more about teaching Texas students – and adults – who actually won the Civil War, and what that means for us today.
If you are going to be a “strict Constitutionalist,” as many of Trump’s elite political leaders describe themselves, it is advisable to strive for an understanding of the Constitution. Hint: it frowns on advocating rebellion, the undermining of democratic elections, and the overthrow of the Constitution itself.
The Book Proverbs, like much of the Bible, has a good deal to say about “pride.” For the most part, it is a warning of the pride of hubris.
In various translations, this “pride” can be rendered as “arrogance” or even “corruption.” It is the pride of the vainglorious, who can neither abide defeat nor any check upon their power, sinners who have lost their sense of community and any belief in a higher purpose.
Our republic survives because a broad coalition of our fellow citizens – from Democrats to Republicans to independents – are willing to put country over party, public purpose over personal gain, and honor over cynicism. That’s also true of the tens of thousands of poll workers and local election administrators who overcame great odds in a pandemic to produce what every single reputable observer has determined was a fair, honest, accurate election.
No election is perfect, just as no democracy is perfect. But this one was fairer and truer than most, and the results were more lopsided than most in modern times: Biden won; Trump lost (losing the popular vote for the second time).
People like Roy and Paxton would have us believe that you’re either a Trump or a chump. You twist the rules to suit your own wants – because you’ve got power, because everybody does it – or else you’re a loser.
That’s not the country – or Texas – we believe in.
Here, at the local level, we’ve seen first-hand honorable people of both parties stand for self-sacrifice and for community. If those virtues are at low ebb on the national level now, we believe they will be back in fashion one day soon.
Joe Biden, with his stutter and his working-class roots in faith and community, his propensity for disarmingly honest statements, his belief in compromise and bi-partisanship, may be part of the answer. He is a flawed vessel, to be sure, as are we all.
But he is reaching out, across the aisle and across America, seeking to rally us against an insidious virus, or two: COVID and mistrust. He is doing it with civility and patience.
If we may disagree here and there, is it not time, after this most painful of years, to at least give him a chance?
To that point, Chip Roy may represent more than a third of us in this sprawling district that – symbolically – runs right down the middle of the county. But for siding with disunion and incivility, for valuing an attention-getting tweet over problem solving in the midst of crisis, we say to you, Mr. Roy, you can kiss our asterisk.
*You can do better. You just have to try.