Cherwitz: Vote to hold them accountable

Richard A. Cherwitz

Richard A. Cherwitz

On Friday, in a vindictive and retributive move to punish witnesses who testified against him in the House impeachment proceedings, President Donald Trump fired Lt. Col. Alexander Viindman, director for European Affairs for the United States National Security Council, and Ambassador Gordon Sondland, United States Ambassador to the European Union.

Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, pointedly observed: “This is shameful of course. But this is also what we should now expect from an impeached president whose party has decided he is above the law and accountable to no one.”

Was Engel’s fear correct? Put differently: Will Texas Republican Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, as well as representatives like Louie Gohmert and John Ratcliffe who have been among the president’s chief defenders, once again look the other way? Will they continue placing party above principle and blindly following the lead of their president?

Sadly, it would appear so. Maine’s Republican Sen. Susan Collins had the unmitigated gall to tell reporters after the firings: “I obviously am not in favor of any kind of retribution against anyone who came forward with evidence.” Really? What a less-than-forceful rhetorical and uncourageous response. I wonder what she proposes to do about it. Collins will not, I predict, enforce her disfavor with decisive action.

We’ve already witnessed Sens. Lamar Alexander, Lisa Murkowski and others admit that President Trump’s actions in the Ukraine scandal were wrong. They also incorrectly predicted the impeachment would change his behavior, preventing him from engaging in future illegal, inappropriate and self-serving actions that are not in the interest of the country.

In the case of Collins I say with certainty: Like so many Trump sycophants, who weakly may declare they don’t like what Trump does but themselves fear his retribution, she will continue to be a lemming, acquiescing to the King-in-Chief. It will not matter what he says and does — or how unethical his words and deeds might be.

I trust that Maine voters are smart enough to see Collins for who she is and vote her out of office. She failed to reject Brett Kavanaugh when he was nominated to be a Supreme Court Justice. Her vote to subpoena witnesses and documents meant little, given the predetermined outcome; many understood she was given a pass by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on this vote to appease her constituents in Maine. And then she wouldn’t stand with fellow Republican Sen. Mitt Romney on the all-important vote to convict the president. It’s time for a senator from Maine who has the courage of her convictions.

Susan Collins, however, is not the only politician who should be condemned for failing to act. The time has come for voters across the nation, including Texas, to examine closely the failure of all their representatives and senators who didn’t hold President Donald Trump responsible for his despicable behavior. No matter how much some Americans may concur with Trump’s economic policies or appointments to the federal courts, we cannot excuse or permit the egregious wrong he has done.

Voting is a powerful democratic tool — and, in this case, the last way to hold this president and his congressional enablers accountable. I hope Americans will exercise their right to vote, place principle above party and help end the current nightmare. For Texas, that could mean the defeat of Sen. Cornyn, as well as Reps. Louie Gohmert and John Ratcliffe, two of Trump’s major enablers who make excuses for, look the other way and turn a blind eye every time the President engages in reprehensible behavior.

— Richard Cherwitz is Ernest A. Sharpe Centennial Professor Emeritus, Moody College of Communication at the University of Texas at Austin. He is also founding director of the Intellectual Entrepreneurship Consortium.

Today's Bible verse

“Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.”

— Hebrews 9:27-28

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