Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Impeachment Begins

"The President must be held accountable.  No one is above the law."

It begins.

In light of the whistleblower complaint and Trump's admitting to requesting a foreign government investigate a political rival, the Speaker of the House finally felt empowered enough to launch the impeachment investigation.  Pelosi had been long reluctant to proceed with impeachment without strong bipartisan support.  

It's not as if there has been enough for them to hang an impeachment proceeding on to date, or as if removal has not been pondered through impeachment or the 25th Amendment before.

It's not as if this investigation is not warranted.  I mean look at previous impeachments.  President Johnson was impeach for trying to abruptly and improperly replace a high ranking executive member in violation of the Tenure of Office Act.  President Nixon was investigated for impeachment because of obstruction of justice and abuse of power in trying to get dirt on political rivals.  President Clinton was impeached for perjury and obstruction of justice in trying to cover up an affair.  Of that entire list, the allegations against Trump are only missing perjury, though given his record on truth telling, that may not be hard to establish.  After all, one reason given for him not testifying before Mueller was that his handlers did not believe he could testify without perjuring himself.

It's not as if the founding fathers did not contemplate someone like Trump rising to power.   "If ever time should come, when vain and aspiring men shall possess the highest seats of Government, our country will stand in need of its experienced patriots to prevent its ruin."  Samuel Adams.  They literally wrote provisions in the Constitution and founding documents to help prevent it and to help evict one such person elected.  Checks and balances on power.  The ability to over-ride a presidential veto.  The Court being able to overrule an unconstitutional action by the executive.  The ability to impeach an elected official who commits treason, bribery, or the nebulous "high crimes and misdemeanors."  Alexander Hamilton wrote that high crimes and misdemeanors covered "those offences which proceed from the misconduct of public men, or, in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust.  They are of a nature which may with peculiar propriety be denominated political, as they relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to the society itself."  To Benjamin Franklin, this was necessary for when the Executive has "rendered himself obnoxious."

We also have the newer 25th Amendment which enables the Vice President and a majority of the members of the executive cabinet or other equivalent body set by Congress to remove a president who is unable to discharge the powers and duties of their office.  And there have been times in this current administration that invoking the 25th has been contemplated within the Executive.

What the drafters could not contemplate is a Congress that would refuse to act in the face of such an act.  A Congress where one party was too timid to speak up, and the other party was complicit in enabling such behavior.  To quote the Washington Post, we've discovered "that the Constitution is not a mechanism that runs by itself.  Ultimately, we are a government of men and not law.  The law has no force without people who are willing to enforce it."

Thankfully, we have reached the point where people are willing to step up and enforce it.  Hopefully, this will be an action that crosses party lines.  That comes from our representatives of all stripes.  That puts the good of the country above party.

A point where we recognize that no one is above the law, not even the president.  That his actions, words, and character thus far cannot be tolerated any longer.  That we expect more from our current and future leaders, and that they will be held to that high bar.

That a thorough investigation must be held and the truth must be revealed, not withheld, obfuscated, or belittled.  That justice should prevail.

This will be a long process.  And it has the potential to be a weight on the Democratic party.  It has the potential to affect the outcome of the 2020 election in favor of the Republican party.

That should not matter.

It must be done because our processes demand it.  Because our democracy demands it.  Because we as the people should demand it.

Because it's right.

Hopefully we have the stamina to see it through. 

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