Senators must hold President Trump accountable or be held accountable themselves

Trump and Pence (copy)

The responsibility of conducting oversight and providing accountability for the executive branch belongs to Congress. Should Congress fail to realize this responsibility, it is incumbent upon voters to hold their congressional representatives accountable for that failure.

Oklahoma’s senators, Sen. Jim Inhofe and Sen. James Lankford, have so far demonstrated their lack of interest in having a fair and thorough trial by dismissing evidence of the president’s wrongdoing as it arises. Despite the Lev Parnas recording and John Bolton manuscript coming to the attention of the public, neither senator has come out in support of calling witnesses for the trial.

According to reporting by The Oklahoman, Sen. Inhofe was still opposed to calling witnesses on Monday, after the existence of Bolton’s damaging manuscript was made public.

As of Tuesday, Sen. Lankford had called for senators to have access to the Bolton manuscript, but stopped short of calling for witnesses, according to The Oklahoman.

Regardless of whether or not the senators believe President Trump should be removed from office, they have a responsibility to act as impartial jurors for the impeachment trial. Their clear lack of desire to impartially judge the facts of the case is a violation of that responsibility, and Oklahomans need to hold them accountable for that failure.

Thankfully, power in our democracy is ultimately derived from the people, which means that individual citizens have the power to demand accountability, and possibly influence the outcome of the impeachment proceedings.

Oklahoma residents who believe the Senate must conduct a thorough trial considering all applicable evidence should consider calling their senators and letting them know. Sen. Lankford’s Washington office can be reached at 202-224-5754, while Sen. Inhofe’s Washington office number is 202-224-4721. When they ask for your address, be sure to give them the address on your voter registration. Out-of-state students can find their senators’ contact information at www.commoncause.org/find-your-representative.

If you’ve called your senators and are still feeling fired up about government accountability, you should make sure your voter registration is accurate and up-to-date. Students who live in Stillwater year-round should consider registering to vote in town so they can participate in elections about important local issues, as well as be assigned a local polling place to make voting more convenient. To check your registration, or get help registering for the first time, visit vote.org or contact your local election board.

Once you’ve promised your senators to hold them accountable and updated your voter registration to follow through on that promise, you’re ready to move on to the final step: talk to your family and friends. Take your message to twitter, to class, to work and to the dinner table. Perhaps the easiest and most effective way to affect a change in your senator’s behavior is to consistently and publicly call for that change. If there is a lesson to be learned from the 2016 election, it’s that social media can be a political wild card.

Despite what they want you to believe, senators are beholden to public opinion, because they don’t want to be voted out of office. Therefore, issues that see extensive, vigorous public debate are more likely to see cautious, thoughtful attention from senators. Give them a reason to pay attention to you, and hold them accountable if they don’t.

news.ed@ocolly.com