As I watch the chaos that engulfs the country, the anger I feel is not about conservative versus progressive. Both of these political positions have good and bad points. No matter what the talking heads on Fox News and MSNBC think, there are no absolutes.
In our race for political dominance (and ergo the edges of the political spectrum of Left and Right), we have forgotten that consensus and compromise are the foundations of democracy. But even more critical, our politicians have forgotten how to keep their word; and by this I mean, they don’t keep their oaths of office.
If “my side” doesn’t win an election, as an American citizen, I can at least take comfort that if an elected official doesn’t support my political beliefs, he or she will as least put the needs of the country first. By swearing to “uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States,” our representatives are, in essence, promising to protect ALL of their constituents.
Swearing an oath to our Constitution is more than merely repeating words with your hand in the air. It is the cornerstone on which our entire government rests. Our Constitution details the creation of our three branches of government (for those of you who flunked Civics class, that would be the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches). It creates checks and balances to ensure that the power of one branch exceeds the other two.
Our crisis now is we have a duly elected President who not only does not follow his Constitutional oath but thumbs his nose at the entire document to get his way. While this is disturbing, it is not unique in our country’s history. Other presidents have used similar tactics in the past. But in those other instances, the other branches of government have banded together to curb the Executives’ grasps of control. Today that has not occurred.
Republicans in Congress have placed their political interests ahead of the country’s interests. They protect and support a President because they fear the wrath of his cultist followers and the loss of their elected offices. Again, this is common in our system of government, especially in a two-party system. But with this President under the threat of impeachment, the stakes are higher than usual.
As I follow the events in the nation’s capital, I listen to each side sling mud and grandstand to get their points across. But under all that muck and pontification is the truth. There may be nuances in our perception of the facts, but the conclusion should be the same. And if the truth is out there (thank you The X-Files!) then it should be simple for our representatives to vote according to that truth. THIS is what the Oath of Office is supposed to enforce. Our system of government is more than one person, political expediency, or party alliances. If the President broke the law, he should pay the price of that offense. I firmly believe that Congress should have impeached President Clinton for committing perjury in 1998 for lying under oath. If we do not hold our government officials to the standards they hold for us, then we are not a democracy. If they break their official vows of office, disregard the truth, and disregards the consequences of the President’s actions, they set the course for the eventual demise of our country. It may survive a few more centuries, but this could be the point we slide back from being a perennial superpower.
Congress, the world is watching.