Impeachment: A Popular Movement

Impeachment has been on the minds of Progressives since before the 2006 midterm elections, when the Democrats regained control of both the Senate and House. This power shift gave Bush supporters pause and gave Democrats new hope for their party that had seemed to be floundering for so many years. For Progressives, it inflated their hopes for Impeachment of both the President and Vice President. Those hopes were immediately dashed when the new Speaker of the House proclaimed a new era of bipartisanship and cooperation with the new Republican minority.

I’ll admit that I was thrilled by the prospect of a new Democratic majority in Congress, though I was skeptical that they would do much real, substantive good. I doubted little would change. It is still early in this legislative session, but I’ve already seen signs that little will improve in the next two years; even with majority control of Congress, it seems Democrats have yet to relocate the spines they lost oh so many years ago. So it seems there is no reason to hope the Impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney will begin in the halls of Congress.

Instead, we, the people, must take it upon ourselves to force the issue upon our elected representatives who refuse to follow our will.

In this month’s issue of The Progressive magazine, there is an article by Howard Zinn which deals specifically with the issue of Impeachment. Howard Zinn, just in case you’re unaware, is the author of one of the best books I’ve ever read (though it admittedly took me months), The People’s History of the United States. Professor Zinn is a Progressive through and through and while I’m not surprised by his position, I was surprised to see his name attached to a magazine article: Impeachment by the People.

Right off the bat, Zinn holds no punches:

The realities of the Iraq War cry out for the overthrow of a government that is criminally responsible for death, mutilation, torture, humiliation, chaos….

But if sanity is to be restored in our national policies, it can only come about by a great popular upheaval, pushing both Republicans and Democrats into compliance with the national will.

It has become plain, or so it seems to me, that these Democrats who control Congress cannot be counted on to do what is right, and instead we’re told we should be realistic and we’re lectured on what is politically possible. In this Zinn is right. The Impeachment movement must begin with us:

The Declaration of Independence, revered as a document but ignored as a guide to action, needs to be read from pulpits and podiums, on street corners and community radio stations throughout the nation. Its words, forgotten for over two centuries, need to become a call to action for the first time since it was read aloud to crowds in the early excited days of the American Revolution: “Whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it and institute new government.”

So the next logical step, according to Zinn, is “the convening of ‘people’s impeachment hearings’.” Now, he falls a bit short, in my opinion, of describing these “hearings,” but does equate them to the meetings which prefaced the American Revolution against the British Crown. In this way, as is his apparent style, he places the work and responsibility of setting things right with the people.

In the months since the election, I’ve had countless conversations with friends and family regarding this issue of impeachment. While everyone I’ve talked to believes he should indeed be impeached, they’ve all accepted this idea that there are better things our Congress can be doing for us: increasing the minimum wage, fixing health care, improving prescription benefits, the list goes on. I certainly don’t disagree that all these things are important, I do believe that no real positive steps will be made while these to (excuse me) bastards are allowed to remain in office.

What about the rule of law? What about doing what’s right? What about taking steps to correct some of the wrongs this administration has committed against us and against the world? It seems to me blatantly obvious that this administration enjoys flying in the face of public opinion. Have Bush and Cheney taken up as a hobby violating US and international law? While this may seem like an absurd question, it certainly appears that these two absolutely believe they are above the law; they make the law.

The popular movement has indeed begun, but I fear it isn’t moving forward fast enough. Of course, I am counting the days until they are voted out of office, but I would so much rather kick them out and send them to jail. If they are allowed to leave with no repercussions, no punishment, I think it will send a sad signal to the rest of the world and send a message to future administrations that the people of this nation have lost any and all will to defend the ideals and laws that could make this country great.