To Our Elected Representatives in Congress: The Framers Wouldn’t Be Surprised a President Attempted a Coup, Just Disappointed You Didn’t Stop It Sooner

Posted in: Constitutional Law

Dear Elected Representatives:

The Framers of the United States Constitution knew human nature, and it wasn’t pretty. Despotic monarchs, like King George III, and shifting European theocracies had taught them that unlimited power, even from God, is dangerous in the hands of humans. The Constitutional Convention was a debate on limiting the power humans would hold in the national government. President Donald Trump, who should be impeached immediately for his failed coup, is the embodiment of what they expected from rulers: self-centered corruption, greed, and no care for the common good. The marker of such a despot is that he surrounds himself with those who will not challenge his power or vision, no matter how delusional.

They believed, though, that it was worth the effort to compose a government of interlocking but independent parts where each human’s instinct to abuse power would butt up against someone else’s. The tragic lesson of our era is that when a political party plays sycophant to a tyrant and both Houses operate with rules that tempt members to believe they are more important than the people they serve, the whole system is at risk, as it was when pro-Trump insurrectionists stormed the U.S. Capitol to halt the ordinary transfer of power through what should be ceremonial verification of the Electoral College.

Members of both Houses—every member—you need to respond resolutely to this invasion of your power and verify the Electoral College vote ASAP. Stand up, for godssakes, and do your job under the Constitution, and only that job. Vindicate the Framers’ system now even if you should have acted hours, days, months, and even years ago. Do it virtually, if you must. But do it, because it is the only legitimate path the Constitution has given you at this stage, and we the voters are weary of your posturing as the common good recedes into the background.

Stand down, you representatives and Senators who didn’t have the wisdom or backbone to stand up to a tyrant. That’s you, in particular, Sen. Ted Cruz, who should never, ever be heard to say in future you are a constitutional expert of any variety. That’s you, Sen. Josh Hawley, who used your position of power as a representative of the people of Missouri to foment sedition for the person who happens to temporarily reside in the White House.

Until the peaceful transition of power has happened through verification of the Electoral College, you need to pledge to own this attempted coup as an embarrassing failure—on your part. The systems in both House and Senate that have been shaped by those like Sen. Mitch McConnell let the people’s needs be ignored while those in power postured and loved their power more than their constituents. It is not only Donald Trump who has been corrupted by power.

Of course, the criminals who broke into and vandalized a federal building and threatened our very system of democracy must be tried and incarcerated. Once you have accomplished what the Constitution requires of you and named President-elect Biden our next President, then you must turn to the investigation of who failed to secure the Capitol, and whether it was gross negligence or hideous intent.

At the same time, you must do what you failed to do before: impeach the President who has trafficked in lies for years, including most recently about a legitimate election, and who incited this violent insurrection. But don’t stop by throwing blame only toward him. It’s time to own what you have done to the American people by ignoring the greater good for so long, by failing to prioritize the needs of the people over your petty disagreements, and by your failure to successfully check the most corrupt and self-serving President in United States history. Take off your damn political campaign pins and talk to each other like adults.

The Framers gave you a system. Use it.


A mere voter

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