Democrats have lost their moral legitimacy to rule; respond by shutting down Congress

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Republican leaders in Congress have rightly noted that Democrats crossed the Rubicon with the wrongful conviction of former President Donald Trump.

Senate Republican Whip John Thune (R-S.D.) said the case was “politically motivated from the beginning.”

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) called the verdict “a disgrace,” and said the trial “should have never happened.” 

House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) said that the court’s decision is “further evidence that Democrats will stop at nothing to silence dissent and crush their political opponents.” 

Anyone paying attention must be profoundly disturbed by what Joe Biden and Democrats are doing to our country. And it is a necessary first step to identify the problem properly through such strongly worded condemnations. But the unlawful prosecution of Trump has left the republic in distress.

It is time for a proportionate response.

Some members of Congress have stepped up with ideas. Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and 12 of his Republican colleagues signed a letter committing to several actions, including using the power of the purse to constrain partisan lawfare, rejecting Biden administration nominees, and stymieing consideration of certain legislation. For his part, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) has proposed using the appropriations process to defund politicized prosecutions, rein in abusive federal law enforcement agencies (including Special Counsel Jack Smith) and more.

Others in the movement have good ideas, too. Mike Howell, who serves as the executive director of the Heritage Foundation’s Oversight Project, proposed the creation of a novel special legislative counsel, endowed by the House of Representatives with significant staff and resources to investigate acts of partisan lawfare and election interference, including the authority to issue subpoenas, take depositions, submit criminal referrals to state and local authorities and to use Congress’s inherent contempt and litigation powers to impose accountability. Such an effort would supercharge the House’s oversight function and could be fully funded by the millions of untouched dollars that are available from the shuttering of the January 6 Committee.

These are good ideas that warrant support, but the seriousness and severity of what occurred in New York demands we go even further.

Congress should first pass a resolution declaring to the public that, with the prosecution of their chief political opponent, Biden and the Democratic Party have violated a foundational tenet required for our republic to function, thus forfeiting the moral authority to lead.

Then the House should pass a continuing resolution to fund the government, finalize reauthorization of the National Defense Authorization Act and do whatever else is absolutely necessary to winterize Congress, before declaring the functional end of the Biden presidency and leaving town.

Congress should not spend any more time naming post offices or processing messaging bills that the Senate will never consider anyway. The Senate ought not vote to confirm any more of Biden’s judicial nominees. Our elected representatives should go home, talk with the American people about the dangerous precedent that the Democratic Party has just set and deny this administration any further legitimacy.

The office of the president, more than any other, is expected to seek the interests of all Americans, no matter whom they voted for or to which political party they belong. As commander in chief over the Armed Forces and chief executive over the Department of Justice, endowed with the power to appoint judges and federal attorneys across the country, the people must believe that their president can be trusted to wield these powers justly.

The Trump prosecution is a nakedly anti-democratic political maneuver outside the bounds of the law. But it’s also a grave violation of the people’s trust. A president worthy of the title would recognize this and demand an end to the investigation and prosecution of Trump. In line with the tradition of Washington, Madison and Jefferson, such a president would declare that the mere appearance of a partisan political prosecution is unbecoming of America and must not be allowed. 

Instead, Joe Biden is actually campaigning on Trump’s conviction in New York. He has endorsed its legitimacy and now seeks to benefit from it.

No member of Congress should buy into the mistaken idea that we can just continue on as usual and wait for the election to resolve this matter. Anyone who isn’t willing to fight now can’t be trusted to fight later, when Trump is re-elected and a new fight for America’s future begins.

This extraordinary act of ending Congress early would be a proportionate response to the unprecedented prosecution of an incumbent president’s political opponent in an election year. Crucially, it would also shift the national discussion to where it belongs: to who we are as a nation and who we aren’t.

The Declaration of Independence begins with the fundamental truth that all men are created equal and endowed by God — not by government — with unalienable rights. The power of government to wield its sword justly — to secure these rights — is derived from the consent of the people. However, when the people believe government has become “destructive of these ends,” and they no longer consent to its rule over them, that government is no longer legitimate.

This is why Biden’s presidency must be declared over — not in order to escalate the political tensions roiling the country, but to temper them. The future of our nation is at stake.

Kevin Roberts, Ph.D., is president of Heritage Action for America.

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