Commentary: ‘Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil’

(Francisco Kjolseth | Tribune file photo) Utah Congressman John Curtis.

The words of Isaiah 5:20 come to mind when we consider the response of some members of the Utah congressional delegation to the articles of impeachment released last week:

“Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!”

The narrowly drawn articles allege the abuse of presidential power in support of political aims, and the obstruction of Congress as they investigated this abuse. And yet our representatives in Congress insist in the face of significant evidence to the contrary, that President Trump has done absolutely nothing wrong. Dismissing this evidence wholesale, Rep. John Curtis has already announced that he intends to vote not to impeach on these articles, citing this as an easy choice.

We have seen the summary call transcript between President Trump and Ukraine’s President Zelensky and have heard the testimony of career public servants, military officers and Trump appointees. Given Donald Trump’s proven patterns of dishonesty, we have no reason to believe his tweets and comments over the sworn, sober and thorough testimony from these government officials who served reputably under both Republican and Democratic administrations.

The current evidence, provided by reliable witnesses, would most certainly lead to the firing or forced resignation of any other civil servant or elected official. Notably, the White House has conspicuously refused to allow members of the administration who were present during the phone call to appear as witnesses.

If Republicans have evidence to exonerate the president, we encourage them to release it publicly and testify under oath. Failure to do so implies that they do not believe the president to be innocent, but nonetheless wish to ensure that he retains power at any cost.

Allowing a sitting president to freely abuse power sets a terrible precedent for future office holders — both Democratic and Republican. The evidence at hand should impel all elected representatives to act with integrity and allow the Constitution’s remedies for presidential corruption to come into play.

The impeachment process was established by the founders as a lawful and legitimate way to determine whether a president’s behavior merits removal from office. Indeed, it is the only method available to check extreme abuses of power.

The Republican Party has long been associated with values such as family loyalty, marital fidelity, honesty, integrity, and a desire to be upright before God. For some, supporting Donald Trump as a Republican president may seem to enable a "greater cause," but this is a Faustian bargain that discredits the party and the values for which it once stood. Our nation deserves two ethically healthy parties who maintain the highest level of integrity as they pursue their diverse political aims.

Trump's actions are observably wrong, beyond the scope of what the office allows, and should not be condoned by patriots. As we listen to Republicans bluster about unfairness, "a sham," and a president who “hasn't done anything wrong," we cannot help but hear in their voices an overwhelming cynicism. These are not the responses of integrity, honesty, or loyalty to the constitutional system.

We hope Utah’s congressional delegation, who are all our co-religionists, will not respond in this manner. We hope you will be different, and stand up for ethics, truth and righteousness. We hope you will call darkness darkness, and bitter bitter. We hope you will not be silent and allow sophistry and guileful speaking to prevail. We hope you will judge things by an even, unbiased standard.

If something would be wrong if committed by a Democratic or local civic official, it is wrong when committed by President Trump. Please stand up for the Constitution and speak truth to power, even if it is unpopular in the Republican Party.

Catherine Eslinger

Megan Seawright

Catherine Eslinger and Megan Seawright are Utah chapter co-leads for Mormon Women for Ethical Government. MWEG is dedicated to inspiring women of faith to be ambassadors of peace who transcend partisanship and courageously advocate for ethical government.