Bergman has choices to make

To the Journal editor:

Any first-time Republican representative who entered the House in 2017 has had a tough go of it.

In normal times, Republicans and Democrats debate various approaches to governing, and while the balance between compromise and partisanship may ebb and flow, the basic underpinnings of our democracy are protected and the country’s work gets done.

But these are not normal times. In addition to standard policy differences on national issues, we have been subjected to a president who threatens the principles upon which our democracy is built. It is not because he is a Republican — remember that just a few years ago he was a Democrat — it is unique to this individual.

He has used the office to threaten punishment of political rivals and the press, he dismisses the solid findings of our intelligence agencies and refuses to deal with Russian threats, insists that government officials be loyal to him rather than the Constitution and has bragged about getting away with sexual assault, just to name a few non-partisan and non-policy atrocities.

This is a huge problem for the nation, but especially a problem for Congress, which has responsibility for oversight of the Executive Branch. It is even more so a problem for Congressional Republicans, who, with few exceptions, silently watch this onslaught on democracy. By not acting or speaking out, they are no longer innocent observers-they are complicit.

I understand U.S. Rep. Jack Bergman’s predicament. He can continue to keep his head down and through his silence, implicitly endorse Trump’s behavior-hurting our democracy in the process. Or he can perform the duty that the Constitution and his oath of office require, and call out the President on words and actions that harm our nation.

Of course, doing the latter might mean some of Trump’s base may desert him and Mr. Bergman could end up a one-term representative. Taking that step, however, is what true patriotism requires.

The situation makes one wonder how Mr. Bergman wants to be remembered. Does he want his legacy to be that of a congressman who pursued a second term by enabling a president who puts our democracy at risk?

Or would he prefer to be remembered as an honorable man, who instead, put his re-election chances at risk by doing the right thing for his country?

Tom Bronken