My dad’s advice stayed with me when I reached the Virginia Military Institute and was given a different kind of compass, in the simple words of the VMI honor code: “A cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, nor tolerate those who do.” Those words have stuck with me all these years because they’re so clear. They have become a kind of moral compass for me. They always call me back home safely.
Virginia and this country need that more than ever these days. It can be hard to find our way in a time when there’s so much shouting, when nasty, shallow tweets take the place of honest debate, and when scoring political points gets in the way of dealing with real problems.
If you’ve felt that way, I want you to listen to me right now: We are bigger than this.We all have a moral compass deep in our hearts. And it’s time to summon it again, because we have a lot of work to do.
Sadly, as noted, these concepts appear to be lost or non-existence among today's congressional Republicans who could, if they wanted to, counter Trump or even remove him from office. Yet it seems Republicans no longer have any sense of decency. A piece in The Atlantic looks at this threat and the question that moral people need to loudly ask Republicans. Here are column excerpts:
“Have you no sense of decency?” It’s the question that the members of the Republican majority in the Congress—51 senators, 239 representatives—might bear in mind, in the “shithole” era.
If only two of those senators would stand up against Donald Trump, with their votes rather than just their tweets or concerned statements, they would constitute an effective majority.
With the 49 Democratic and independent senators, these two would make 51 votes, which in turn would be enough to authorize real investigations. They could pass a formal resolution of censure. They could call for tax returns and financial disclosure. They could begin hearings, on the model of the nationally televised Watergate hearings of 45 years ago.
They could behave as if they took seriously their duties to hold the executive branch accountable. They could make a choice they know will be to their credit when this era enters history — as did the Republicans who finally turned against their own party’s President Nixon during the Watergate drama, as did the Democrats who finally turned against their own party’s President Johnson over the Vietnam war, as did the Republicans who finally turned against their own poisonous Senator McCarthy in the episode that gave rise to “Have you no sense of decency?” more than 60 years ago. They could spare themselves the shame that history attaches to people who did the wrong thing, or nothing, or kept looking the other way during those decisive periods.
If any of these two, or some other pair from the thirty-plus remaining Republicans, decided to take a stand, they would not change everything about this perilous moment in politics. But they would do something, about the open secret of a destructive presidency that nearly all of their colleagues are aware of and virtually none is doing anything about.
They could remind their colleagues of the Senate’s appropriate check-and-balance function.
And they could spare themselves, in history’s perspective, the question Joseph Welch so memorably asked the rampaging Senator Joe McCarthy, during the Army-McCarthy hearings of 1954.
From the Senate’s own historical site: As an amazed television audience looked on, Welch responded with the immortal lines that ultimately ended McCarthy's career:
"Until this moment, Senator, I think I never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness." When McCarthy tried to continue his attack, Welch angrily interrupted, "Let us not assassinate this lad further, senator. You have done enough. Have you no sense of decency?"
Have you no sense of decency? It is a question worth pondering, in the shithole era.