FARGO — The bar is set so low for Republicans that the act of not going along with sedition is somehow viewed as heroic. It's like an arsonist who was able to burn down only half the Louvre: "The Mona Lisa was destroyed, but the Venus de Milo survived. Great work by the arsonist!"
And so it goes with North Dakota Rep. Kelly Armstrong, who is being feted by members of both parties because he — checks notes — vows to do his job.
Armstrong signed onto a statement released Sunday by several Republican congressmen that says, basically, since the effort this week by Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley and others to overturn the election in favor of Donald Trump has no chance of succeeding, we're going to protect the Constitution because it's expedient for us do so. He was the first of North Dakota's congressional delegation to disavow a coup.
Great work by the congressman! He's decided to not make an attempt at ending America! Hooray!
Left unsaid by those patting Armstrong on the head is that the rest of the statement continues to perpetrate the myth that November's election was rife with fraud and its results should be questioned and investigated.
"We, like most Americans, are outraged at the significant abuses in our election system resulting from the reckless adoption of mail-in ballots and the lack of safeguards maintained to guarantee that only legitimate votes are cast and counted. It is shameful that between both chambers of the U.S. Congress, we have held precisely one hearing on election integrity since Election Day," the statement said.
Armstrong, not surprisingly, is silent on Trump's phone call on which the president implored Georgia's secretary of state to "find" enough votes to push him past Biden. And by implored we mean threatened. Armstrong is a lawyer. He knows this is election fraud, worthy of prosecution.
Complicit Kelly doesn't have the backbone to stand up to the president, his colleagues in Congress or much of anything. He is little more than Sen. Kevin Cramer Jr.
To repeat so maybe those on the backbench can hear: There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud or "irregularities." Recounts were held in swing states and affirmed the original results. Trump's numerous lawsuits were shot down by the courts. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear challenges to the election. U.S. intelligence agencies said the election was secure. U.S. attorney general and Trump toadie William Barr said there was no fraud.
The election was free and fair. Biden won. Period.
That would've been a message worthy of praise. If Armstrong truly wanted to be taken seriously, if that was the goal of signing the statement, the congressman could've said that. "Biden won. Let's move on."
Instead, Armstrong continues to undermine our democracy by questioning the validity of November's election.
And this, in 2021, is enough to earn the congressman kudos. If you don't burn down the whole thing, and still leave a shell of U.S. democracy standing, you're something akin to a hero.
That is the lowest of low bars. Congratulations to Rep. Armstrong, and Cramer and Sen. John Hoeven, for stepping over it.