Are Congressional Republicans Violating Their Oath of Office?

The January 6 Committee has revealed information that bolsters the case that Trump and several of his associates corruptly and comprehensively attempted to overturn the 2020 election–in spite of being told this was illegal and wrong. My sense is that the upcoming hearings will make this case even stronger. Whether Trump and some of his associates will see jail time has been receiving a lot of attention.

But something, maybe a bigger matter, has received much less attention in my view—namely, did congressional Republicans violate—and are they continuing to violate– their oath of office? To put this more specifically and concretely, are they failing to “defend the Constitution from all enemies foreign and domestic,” and in some cases are they undermining and subverting the Constitution, either tacitly or actively? (Would it be fair to designate those who are undermining and subverting the Constitution as the “enemies” in the oath?)

Raising these questions makes me wonder if I’m being irrational, blinded by biases, but let me lay out my thoughts to see if others agree or not.

One thought on “Are Congressional Republicans Violating Their Oath of Office?

    1. Free and fair elections are essential for our democracy. This includes the public’s perception that the elections are free and fair. Democracy is in a precarious position if significant numbers of citizens don’t have this perception.
    2. Therefore, a person or group who relentlessly and mendaciously claims electoral fraud, without any substantive evidence, is tantamount to an attack on our democracy. If an individual or group sought to illegally overturn an election that would be an even more egregious attack on our democracy.
    3. I’m not sure of the extent to which the Constitution explicitly states the vital importance of elections, but I think free and fair elections are so vital to our system of government that I would assume that an attack on free and fair elections is an equivalent to an attack on the Constitution.
    4. Therefore, those who swear an oath to support and defend the Constitution must also support and defend free and
      fair elections–“from all enemies foreign and domestic.”
    5. Failure to support and defend free and fair elections–either through inaction and silence or through actively underming the faith of elections or abetting plans to overturn the elections–is a violation of this oath of office.
    6. Such a violation makes the person unfit for office and justifies their removal.

    One important question involves what supporting and defending the Constitution would like now.

    Here are some thoughts off the top of my head:

    • Congressional Republican leaders would make public appearances with Congressional Democratic leaders strongly reject Trump’s false claims and reassuring the American public that the elections were fair. The efforts of both would match if not exceed Trump’s efforts to invalidate the 2020 election. Also, those Republicans who believe Trump is deeply unfit should say so to the American public.
    • Republicans should join Democrats in condemning their Congressional colleagues–including censuring or impeaching and removing them, if appropriate. Republicans also should rebuke politicians and election officials on the state and local level, including rejecting candidates who embraced Trump’s lies and who advocated for overturning the election. In other words, they should work to remove these Republicans from the party.
    • Standing on the sidelines now would be a dereliction of their duty and violation of their oath.

    • Republicans would work–in good faith–with Democrats to strengthen the Electoral Count Act. They should speak out against states that have changed laws to make voting more difficult.

    There’s probably more that could be done, but I’ll leave it there for now. One thing that seems clear to me is that inaction and silence is not an option–it’s not only a dereliction of duty, but suggests that these sitting on the sidelines would embrace authoritarianism, should the country move in that direction.

    Another thing that is clear: Those actively supporting Trump’s lies, including the notion that the VP could have overturned the election, or even saying or doing things to support these lies (e.g., voting to not accept the electoral votes)–these people are behaving more like enemies of the Constitution rather than its defenders.

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