Idaho’s U.S. Senators Mike Crapo and Jim Risch are at a crossroads of conscience.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has told GOP senators that their vote on the impeachment of former President Donald Trump is a vote of conscience.
Will Crapo and Risch choose to lead Idahoans out of the lie that the presidential election was stolen and out of the swamp of misinformation that led to violence? Or will they cower before an state electorate that overwhelmingly voted for Trump?
Unlike 37 other senators, neither have said they will oppose conviction.
Crapo, Idaho’s senior senator, responds to constituents who write to him about the impeachment with the following: “As with previous impeachment trials, I will take my oath as a juror in this trial seriously, and will consider all evidence and arguments before making a decision on the vote.”
Conscience is that ineffable voice that helps humans distinguish right from wrong and good from bad.
Americans are taught to bring their conscience to bear on difficult decisions, especially those that may involve standing against a large peer group.
If Crapo and Risch vote for impeachment, they will risk infuriating some of the 70 percent of Idaho voters that supported Trump in the last election. They will risk being sneered at in airports like Sen. Mitch Romney, R-Utah, who voted for Trump’s impeachment the first time the Senate considered it.
Like Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., who voted to impeach Trump, they might face censure from state party officials. Just eight of Wyoming’s 74-member Republican Central Committee opposed her censure.
They could face the primary challenges Trump has threatened against Republicans who don’t support him.
On the other hand, Crapo and Risch could stand up for right over wrong. They could hold the former president accountable for inciting the mob that overran the U.S. Capitol and threatened the nation’s highest elected officials with violence.
They could vote to make the buck stop with Trump for spending months setting the stage for stolen-election claims and then urging protestors to march to the Capitol and fight like hell or risk not having a country anymore.
His urging left five people dead, others injured and many more facing prosecution and jail time for criminal acts.
Idaho’s senators have to choose between the value of their own political skins or the value of a nation that must not be bowed by violent bullies.
They must choose between the embrace of fellow party members or the derision of history.
Jaded political observers say there’s no chance that Idaho’s senators will vote to convict Trump. They expect the two lawyers to find trivial reasons for not calling the events of Jan. 6 what they were: an attempt to overthrow the government incited by the sitting president.
Even so, the nation must hope that conscience will prevail over political and personal calculations of power.
*Editors Note: This piece was updated. Rep. Liz Cheney was originally identified as a Senator rather than a member of the House of Representatives. As such, she voted to impeach Trump, rather than to convict him.
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