With so many unsettled issues still in our rearview mirror, now might be the time to ask of Congress: When is enough enough? When would they deem something to be so egregious that the only response to it is to collectively rise up in outrage with overwhelming condemnation? Since nothing so far has apparently escalated to this level, what exactly would move these people to protect our republic?
Those who espouse incendiary and divisive venom give a lot of us tremendous angst. But even more anguish may be created by our elected officials who either turn away from such rhetoric by feigning ignorance, or worse –who encourage those who are actively engaged in the devolution of our democracy. And to be neutral is just as bad; Theodore Roosevelt once opined that to be neutral between right and wrong is to serve wrong.
So what happens when they fail to uphold the constitution to which they swore to protect? What happens when such overwhelming and appalling assaults on our democracy call for them to stand up to those who have no regard for our laws, institutions, and decorum, but refuse to do so? Where exactly is the line in the sand over which they would not cross?
It wasn’t the outrageous rants spewing forth from Marjorie Taylor Greene’s mind-numbing conspiracy theories about 9-11, school shootings and Jewish laser beams from space. What are we to do with knowing that nearly two hundred representatives did not believe her to be a bridge too far, with some even giving her a standing ovation?
Apparently, it also was not a bridge too far when Mr. Trump solicited foreign interference to help his re-election bid by withholding military aid to Ukraine in order to pressure them to announce an investigation into his political rival. All but one republican voted to acquit Trump in his first impeachment trial on these charges. This vote declared to the world that we condone the blackmailing of our allies.
A second impeachment trial had 43 republicans voting for acquittal, this time on even more horrific charges of incitement of insurrection – against his own government. If this isn’t the epitome of a seditious act of treason, then what act would be deemed so by our legislature? Galvanizing his already riled-up base, our former president invited them to Washington on January 6 to stop the steal by telling them to get Pence to do the right thing by not certifying the electoral votes. Was the public as well as the president so clueless that they did not know that the procedural counting of the votes by the vice president is written in the constitution, allowing as much control over these figures as those who announce the numbers on a bingo ball?
As horrific as all that ensued, imagine a gleeful president watching the carnage unfold on TV for hours before finally summoning security to re-take our capitol from those with homicidal intentions, specifically targeting our vice president and speaker of the house, referencing bullets and a noose to implement their plans.
It is apparent that none of the above is a bridge too far. Why? What has happened to our elected officials’ collective sense of decency?
The irony is that most members of congress are wise enough and secretly believe that too many lines have indeed been crossed but are too weak or fear their voters, so they went on the record as complicit in unfounded conspiracy theories and fraudulent elections. This abdication of their responsibilities, combined with a gravely damaged moral compass is more dangerous than our former president. Congress is supposed to be a check on the executive branch; they are our firewall that is now crumbling before our eyes.
What are we to do? The most important thing we can do is vote them out of office. In the meantime, we should heed the warning words of Nelson Mandela when he said that fools multiply when wise men are silent.
Jill Chapin, Santa Monica