Monday, January 16, 2006

Impeachment is a Little Rebellion

There are some arguments for not pushing for impeachment. Mainly it's because the Democrats don't have either house, and we should be concentrating right now on taking one or both back.

Another argument against is that we don't want to get in the same situation that happened when Clinton was impeached. It turned the populace against the Republicans for a time, and it could do the same for Dems.

Yet another argument is that, even if we impeach and remove King George, we still get Unca Dick. Bush is a lame-duck president, anyway.

Those are all practical reasons for not impeaching Bush. But what Bush has declared about the president's role under the Constitution is so egregiously flawed and dangerous that it would be unprincipled as well as impractical to not hold him specifically accountable. The strongest message possible must be sent to all future presidents. We demand checks and balances.

Thomas Jefferson wrote, "I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical." He considered armed rebellion a necessary evil, like a smack upside the head to get the nation's attention and keep our government in check.

I can't advocate for violence against my own government or countrymen. Not just because I'm concerned that I'm being monitored by my government, but because I still think there are remedies short of violence -- plus, I wouldn't advocate for something I myself would be unwilling to do, and I have no intention of doing physical harm to anyone.

Rebellions need not be armed. Impeachment is just such a smack upside the head. People were upset at the Republicans for impeaching Clinton -- it's what angered me into paying attention to politics -- and it cost the Reps some seats. Dems need not worry about impeachment fatigue, as there is now majority support for impeaching Bush.

Al Gore's MLK Day speech explains why:

When President Bush failed to convince Congress to give him all the power he wanted when they passed the AUMF, he secretly assumed that power anyway, as if congressional authorization was a useless bother. But as Justice Frankfurter once wrote: "To find authority so explicitly withheld is not merely to disregard in a particular instance the clear will of Congress. It is to disrespect the whole legislative process and the constitutional division of authority between President and Congress."


And the disrespect embodied in these apparent mass violations of the law is part of a larger pattern of seeming indifference to the Constitution that is deeply troubling to millions of Americans in both political parties.

For example, the President has also declared that he has a heretofore unrecognized inherent power to seize and imprison any American citizen that he alone determines to be a threat to our nation, and that, notwithstanding his American citizenship, the person imprisoned has no right to talk with a lawyer-even to argue that the President or his appointees have made a mistake and imprisoned the wrong person.

The President claims that he can imprison American citizens indefinitely for the rest of their lives without an arrest warrant, without notifying them about what charges have been filed against them, and without informing their families that they have been imprisoned.

At the same time, the Executive Branch has claimed a previously unrecognized authority to mistreat prisoners in its custody in ways that plainly constitute torture in a pattern that has now been documented in U.S. facilities located in several countries around the world.[emphasis added]

People weren't upset at the impeachment itself, they were angry at the bullshit reason for the impeachment. We mostly agreed that what Clinton did was wrong, just not of sufficient Constitutional weight to warrant impeachment.

Most people may not pay as close attention to news and politics as we would like, but most certainly recognize the difference between private misconduct and public misconduct. I know some do confuse the two (which I will rant about in my next post). Anybody can lie to a court, as so many do everyday, many of whom, like Clinton, get caught and punished.

But not just anyone can use the power and resources of the United States to tap a boyfriend's phone, imprison an unruly neighbor who flicks cigarette butts on the lawn, or force a child to stand in the corner for 40 hours until he admits to breaking the lamp.

What Bush is claiming goes right to the heart of the Constitution, and requires a serious response. To let it go is not an option. Consider what else Jefferson had to say about a little rebellion:

I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical. Unsuccessful rebellions, indeed, generally establish the encroachments on the rights of the people which have produced them.

What happens when we don't bother holding any kind of rebellion at all? Bush must be impeached, because his encroachments must not stand.

Via Eschaton.

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