None dare call it treason

What, pray tell, did Roger Marshall manage to do in so short a time?

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Image Credit: Travis Heying/The Wichita Eagle

He is a junior Republican senator. Before that, he served one term in the U.S. House of Representatives. And before that, he was an obscure obstetrician in a small town called Great Bend (so-named because it’s where the Arkansas River heads east and before meandering down to Hutchinson and Wichita). 

As a member of the House, he did little that was newsworthy or noteworthy. Like most Republicans in Congress, he was always the faithful tail-wagging lapdog President Trump expected him to be. But as a member of the august upper chamber he has already made waves! And to think he was only sworn on Jan. 3!! 

What, pray tell, did Roger Marshall manage to do in so short a time? Answer—he joined a group of Republicans in the Senate actively and openly attempted to overturn the results of the Nov. 3 elections (a.k.a., “the will of the people”). No surprise, Marshall was playing follow the leader. That was a role  Senator Ted Cruz grabbed like a trapeze artist in a circus act. 

It all started when Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri announced he would join Alabama Congressman Mo Brooks in leading what has been called the Sedition Caucus to challenge Joe Biden’s decisive win in the Electoral College vote. Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse called it “a dangerous ploy” and former Labor Secretary Robert Reich used the word F-word (“fascism”). 

Ted Cruz had a different reaction. Not to be upstaged, he doubled down on Hawley’s preemptive act of treachery. And now it’s not  mere sleaze that soils the sleazy the senator’s reputation. Ted Cruz actually has blood on his hands

It is certainly a desperate act comparable to the old Hail Mary pass in football, but is it seditious? Under our existing laws sedition is in play when two or more individuals seeks to overthrow the system by force

What about treason? The Constitution defines treason precisely and narrowly: (1) “levying war” against the United States; or (2) “adhering to [the] enemies [of the United States], giving them aid and comfort.” 

Aren’t these sore losers subverting democracy by undermining public trust in free and fair elections? The answer is yes, but according to my trusty Merriam Webster Dictionary, subversion involves “a systematic attempt to overthrow or undermine a government or political system by persons working secretly from within.”

These guys did what they did out in the open. They did it to get publicity. Secrecy is the last thing they want. They are playing to the grandstands in hopes of reaping big rewards. The reward Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz have in mind, of course, is the White House, but they could end up in the Big House. Read on.

Under the current oath of office, members of Congress pledge as follows:  

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic…and that I will well and  faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God. 

Every member since 1884 has taken this oath. Roger Marshall is no exception. 

There are, in fact, federal laws against violating the oath of office The penalties include a prison sentence and removal from office. The question is whether members of Congress are above the law. 

During hearings on the anticommunist hysteria sweeping the country (a.k.a., the Red Scare),  Army special counsel Joseph Welsh expressed the outrage of a nation when he spoke these words: “Have you no sense of decency, sir?” It was June 9, 1954 and Welsh was, of course, addressing Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin. His historic imperative question was the final nail in McCarthy’s self-made political coffin.

Unlike the Red Scare, however, Wednesday’s attack on the Capitol was direct and violent. Prior to the events of January 6, words like  “insurrection”, a “coup”, and “sedition” sounded harsh, hyperbolic, even hysterical. Now, not so much.  

Epilogue

Ironically, Roger Marshall was born in the town where William Allen White, the legendary newspaper editor and leader of the Progressive movement, William Allen White was raised. And that’s where the similarity ends. 

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