We can state as a given that we have a representative form of government; that our elected officials at every level are expected to legislate and vote in accordance with what we tell them by one means or another. Representatives who break from this long-established norm and have failed to heed messages from their constituents end up getting themselves unseated. So, there is an allegiance here and it accrues to constituents; i.e. the “whom”.
The foregoing said, consider the official version of the oath of office that is administered to every elected federal official:
“I______________________ do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United State against all enemies, foreign and domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without mental reservation or purpose of evasion, and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”
In swearing to that, a person is vowing allegiance to the Constitution; i.e. the “what”. But, notice that nowhere in that vow is there any mention of fidelity to constituents, the president or one’s political party. The sole recipient of the commitment is the Constitution. It is given primacy over everything else!!
Provided with this context and its’ rank-ordering of allegiances, consider the behavior of congressional Republicans in the age of Trump: The intent of the Founding fathers’ has been flipped onto its’ head. Fidelity to the Constitution has been relegated to second or third place behind loyalty to constituents, the president and/or the GOP.
What comes out of this distortion is a fundamental weakening of the Constitution , bad policy and bad decision-making, the latter being driven by constituents’ irrational fears and baseless biases. A perfect example can be found in Trump supporters’ very vocal approval of his Muslim immigration ban even though it was plainly discriminatory and unconstitutional in its original form, a fact that has been well-established by multiple court rulings.
It is now being widely admitted that any Republican candidate, whether an incumbent or not, had better be on Trump’s side, because that is where their constituents are. Speak out against him and you are “toast” as Mark Sanford (R-SC) just found out, having been “primaried” by a more Trumpian conservative competitor for office.
Sanford was just one of a startlingly small number of congressional GOPers who have taken repeated issue with 45. Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) is the only one who has come to mind and he has decided to retire rather than run as a non-Trumpian conservative. Over 40 other Republican lawmakers have also opted to skip re-election; ostensibly for the very same reason. Rather than speaking out upon leaving office, they have chosen to remain largely silent, fearing that broad criticism of the president would “rub off” on the larger Republican brand and damage it ahead of the coming mid-term election.
What we are seeing here is a failure on the part of well over 300 congressional Republicans to live up their oath of allegiance to the Constitution ahead of all else. Instead, their fidelity is being extended to the president. This is a dangerous step in the direction of supporting a style of governance that is based more on political whim than the rule of law.
That is not at all what our Framers had in mind.