Less than two years after he won a landslide election victory with 60.7% of the popular vote and a 520-to-17 Electoral College triumph, President Richard Nixon resigned in disgrace, barely avoiding impeachment. His crimes went far beyond what the public knew at the time, but included electoral tampering, FBI collusion and tax fraud.
Yet Nixon almost got away with it. Before his resignation, many thought he would ride out Watergate. Nixon would not have been held accountable for violations of his constitutional oath and attacks on the electoral process were it not for bipartisan recognition that his actions were wrong. Republican Sen. Howard Baker, Republican congressmen Lawrence Hogan and M. Caldwell Butler and Nixon’s Attorney General Elliot Richardson all crossed party lines to hold Nixon to the rule of law.
At this time of Thanksgiving, I express my gratitude for these patriots. I am thankful that country was placed before party. I pray that our country’s current leaders will be courageous, clear-minded and ethical enough to do so again today.
Because, distressingly, today we have another president facing serious allegations of abusing the powerful office of the president for personal gain and political profit, encouraging foreign governments to interfere in our national elections. An impeachment inquiry has ensued, which will end with a vote in the House. But predictions about the results in the House and in the Senate show a society where party is placed before country (and even before evidence).
This is not the case for the “never partisan” patriots such as Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, former Russia director of the National Security Council Dr. Fiona Hill and acting U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine William Taylor, who recently testified in the impeachment hearings.
Yet despite the mounting evidence that the President actively sought foreign interference in our elections, so far many members of Congress —and too many of the American people — are hiding behind partisan blinders. Where are our “never partisan” heroes?
One need not have the track record of Richardson (who took part in the D-day landings in Normandy and earned a Bronze Star, two Purple Hearts, and eventually the Presidential Medal of Freedom) or Vindman (who earned a Purple Heart) to recognize that Americans deserve to know the truth and it can only be aired by a thorough uncovering of the facts. Truth- and fact-finding should receive bipartisan support from all those who care about the co-equal nature of our separate branches of government and the integrity of our elections.
Moreover, we need courageous Americans to not only support truth-finding but also to speak up to condemn any wrongdoing, including (and especially, due to the President’s position and subsequent responsibility) the active solicitation of foreign interference in our elections. Whether there are 30 or 35 Republican senators who would vote in private to impeach Trump, every single member of Congress, Republican or Democrat, should have no hesitancy, no temerity about denouncing such solicitation.
It is not the “deep state” or “fake news” at play here, and it is most certainly not a partisan issue. How many cracks are needed for the floodgates of indignation to open against this brazen affront to our Constitution and our republic?
Members of Congress, if you are listening, please hear this: If our original patriots fought to preserve their rights for self-representation, should we not each stand today against new attempts at tyranny? If Baker, Butler, Hogan and Richardson could put country before party then, and Hill, Vindman Romney and others can do so now, can you not also at this critical moment? Now is the time to decry efforts to undermine our elections and the public’s faith in those elections.
Americans are listening. Let our children look back with gratitude upon your “never partisan” choices, too.
Lisa Rampton Halverson, Springville, is an adjunct professor of humanities and education.