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Analysis: Why Josh Hawley wants to be the only 'no' vote — even on a hate crimes bill

One senator voted against the legislation: Missouri Republican Josh Hawley.
“My big problem with Sen Hirono’s bill that Senate voted on today is that it turns the federal government into the speech police – gives government sweeping authority to decide what counts as offensive speech and then monitor it,” Hawley explained via Twitter. “Raises big free speech questions”
Hawley’s issue with the legislation appears to be that it would direct the departments of Justice and Health and Human Services to issue guidance raising awareness of hate crimes during the pandemic, and work with agencies to establish online reporting of them, as CNN reported of the bill.
As Texas Rep. Chip Roy, who rode to Hawley’s defense on Friday morning, argued via Twitter: “[The legislation] leaves DOJ with carte blanche to define hate ‘incidents’ & instruct local, state law enforcement how to track.” (Roy also said that Senate Republicans were “utterly worthless.”)
Which, well, OK? But if the legislation was such a dangerous overreach by the federal government, why did the likes of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville and Wyoming Sen. Cynthia Lummis (among 43 other Republican senators including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell) vote for it? (Here’s the roll call vote; worth noting that Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul missed the vote but would have likely opposed the measure on final passage as well.)
That’s not exactly a group of liberals. Or people who don’t keep a very close eye on individual liberties and PC culture.
So, did they all somehow miss the egregious power grab? Or did they grasp, in this current political and cultural moment, that denouncing hate crimes against Asian Americans took precedence — as a way to send a very clear message of support to that community?
I’ll make an educated guess that it’s the latter.
Which means that Hawley, at least in the Senate on this vote, is a man on an island. Which earned him loads of scorn from liberals — especially on Twitter. All of which is just how he wants it.

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See, Hawley is interested in running for president in 2024. And what better way to do that in the Trumpian Republican Party than as the lone voice in the wilderness calling out the dangers (hidden and not-so-hidden) of our woke culture.
Close your eyes for a second and imagine Hawley, somewhere in western Iowa in mid-2023 saying something like “And when the liberals in Congress tried to tell us what a hate crime was, I was the only person to stand up against it. Not Ted Cruz! Not Marco Rubio!
Which is, of course, exactly why Hawley did it. And why he’ll find other opportunities to be the only “no” vote — for principled reasons, of course! — in the months and years between now and 2023.
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