Don't Say the Dreaded I-word!
A reigning right-wing president of the United States of America becomes increasingly unpopular among the people, as poll numbers show. His economic policies at home and his foreign policies abroad — especially concerning war and the threat of war — spur on public calls that this boy-emperor of a president be impeached and be punished for his illegal and immoral crimes while in office.
Articles of impeachment are introduced into the U.S. Congress in an effort to permanently remove this maniac from the White House and see that justice is done. But the impeachment attempt is essentially stopped in its tracks — not only by the unpopular president’s own party, the rightwing Republican Party, but also by the so-called opposition party of Democrats. A powerful leader in the Democratic Party, Nancy Pelosi, in particular, stands in the way of the natural impeachment process.
The end-result: Having escaped impeachment or worse, this unpopular president-turned-monarch remains in power and continues to do untold damage to the U.S. system of government and to other countries in the world. He is increasingly protested and publicly demonstrated against wherever he dares to travel around the globe. His legacy of death and destruction go on to haunt the American people and their beloved flag-waving nation for decades.
Does this scenario sound familiar to you? It should: This is exactly how it happened with a past president, namely George W. Bush, who escaped impeachment thanks to Ms. Pelosi and many of her colleagues in the supposedly “liberal” Democratic Party back in the early 2000s. And in a case of déjà vu, it is happening again with the current president of the USA, Donald Trump.
Only this time, the stakes are much higher and the damage to be done much greater. Yet Ms. Pelosi and the more conservative factions in the leadership of the Democratic Party continue to repeat history, never having learned from their own mistakes of the past. Democrats have long been shy about going after a Republican president, however unpopular he may be. The smell and sight of political blood, even that of a sworn enemy of theirs, is enough to make them feel queasy and uneasy.
“We don’t want to divide the nation,” they always reason. Never mind that the nation would already have been deeply divided by an unpopular Republican president by that point. So, whatever you do, ladies and gentlemen, don’t use the dreaded “I-word” (impeachment) in the presence of Democrats! It makes them break out in a cold sweat and shake at the knees to think of possibly losing some swing voters and confronting real injustice in the sacred halls of government.
The late U.S. president Richard Nixon, after all, was as crooked a politician as they come, and it took a long time for Democrats in Congress to catch up with the very strong public sentiment that Nixon had to leave office. In the end, the Democrats didn’t have to get their fingernails dirty with Nixon’s forced departure: He denied them a victory by resigning as president instead.
When a Republican-dominated Congress had its turn a couple decades later with then-president Bill Clinton in the 1990s, the best they could come up with was exposing a philandering, adulterous First Husband who was getting it on with one of his White House aides and forcing himself on other women. So much for “high crimes and misdemeanors”, as repugnant as his actions were. As the impeachment proceedings against Clinton wore on, a funny thing happened: Public opinion was turning in favor of Clinton and against his prosecutors. In the end, Slick Willie was impeached but never spent a day in jail — keeping his job and his wife both.
Impeachment is indeed like a double-edged samurai sword that can cut the wielder of the weapon just as deeply as it can the intended target of the attack. It is a political tool that must be used wisely and carefully, for it can easily decapitate the holder of the finely honed blade if it is not used in the correct way.
In the case of FPOTUS Trump, though, the number of apparent crimes is so large and the legal justification so sound that it would seem to be making the Democrats’ job of impeaching him that much easier. And yet, Trump keeps getting away with all kinds of unacceptable crap.
From almost the beginning of Trump’s presidency, public opinion has been comparatively high in favor of impeaching him. Even so, two years on, the daily news reports bring us more fresh, sordid tales of Trump’s travails, and every day we ask ourselves: Is this the one that’s going to be the final nail in Trump’s coffin? Is this the one that’s finally going to get him impeached? In early 2019, he’s already confidently making plans for his next run for executive office next year. And the Democrats, as an official opposition party, mostly gawk on.
I saw firsthand how this process worked at the local level in the United States around 2003, when there was much talk in the air across the nation about the need to impeach George W. Bush for the two illegal wars he had waged against Afghanistan and Iraq, not to mention getting the controversial USA Patriot Act passed and doing a lot of other bad things that many U.S. citizens could not tolerate.
An open, public town hall meeting was held at the time in Arcata, a liberal-minded college town on California’s far North Coast, where my family and I were then living. We sat in the audience of this town hall event, witnessing democracy in action. The question being raised at the meeting that evening was a simple one: Should the city of Arcata formally pass a resolution calling for the impeachment of U.S. president George W. Bush?
There was much feedback from the public, as one local citizen after another in attendance at the community center came up, took the microphone, and eloquently expressed support for Bush’s impeachment and for passing the local resolution. It was an impressive scene to watch unfold.
Countering this, however, were also two main elements at the town hall meeting that strongly opposed the passing of the local impeachment resolution against Bush. One element was locally elected Republican Party office holders (which was natural, since Bush was a Republican too). The other was locally elected Democratic Party office holders — the political enemies of Bush — which was surprising. In fact, the Democrats made the case against the local impeachment resolution even more forcefully than the Republicans themselves did. The USA would only be divided further if the local resolution against Bush were to be passed, the local Democrats maintained, and they were dead-set against supporting it.
One resident of the city we knew, Paige, finally got to the microphone and expressed what many of us in the audience felt about all the wavering over the local Bush impeachment resolution: “Just pass the damn thing!”
It took a few more years, but in the end, the Arcata city council did overcome that Republican and Democratic party resistance, and passed the local impeachment resolution in 2006 — one of the first city governments in the nation to do so — against Bush and vice president Dick Cheney for violating constitutional and international law. Other U.S. municipalities followed suit. I couldn’t help but be proud of Arcata for standing up when it really counted; it also reminded me why I had stopped voting for anyone in the Democratic Party decades earlier.
At the national level, a Democratic Party member of congress, Dennis Kucinich, had 35 articles of impeachment against Bush officially drawn up and presented for a vote in 2008. It was the moment many U.S. citizens had waited for, the golden opportunity to punish a warmongering president for breaking the law on several counts. The “impeach Bush” effort ended up being voted down in a House of Representatives committee, mostly along party lines.
With no real check on his power, Bush continued wreaking havoc abroad and at home, and his legacy as a self-proclaimed “war president” is still with the world today in the form of a fake president named Trump. In his current deluded frame of mind, Trump believes he is protected from impeachment by the ordinary working people of America, who would rise up in great numbers and “revolt” if he were to be impeached.
The Democrats are just as much to blame as the Republicans for the damage that Bush did, and for the damage Trump continues doing today. Letting a criminal at the highest level of government off the hook for breaking the law is, to many of us, a crime in and of itself. Bush belonged in jail, not in the West Wing, and Trump likewise belongs behind maximum-security prison walls — in a bright-orange prison jumpsuit matching his hair color, of course — not in the White House pushing for border walls to keep out brown-skinned people.
The good news is we now have a bolder, browner and more feminized House of Representatives in place, and they’re not afraid of confronting the Democratic Party powers-that-be in pushing for Trump’s impeachment and subsequent removal from office. We’ve also got some veterans in Congress, such as Maxine Waters, who have vowed to do whatever it takes to get Trump impeached. A new round of impeachment articles was submitted earlier this month by members of the new Congress, and we’ll have to wait and see what happens. Will Nancy Pelosi and her more conservative-minded fellow Democrats block this effort too, as she did just a couple years ago? More recently, Pelosi gave a tepid statement about the possibility of impeaching Trump, and that is only because she has been pushed in that direction by public opinion and progressive Democrats.
And it’s not just the public, either. America’s corporate press establishment — never a shining bastion of liberal thought and action in the USA — has been voicing calls more and more for Trump’s impeachment. The New York Times opinion pages regularly feature commentary these days that make a strong case for Trump to be impeached. Just recently The Atlantic magazine devoted its cover story to the need for Trump’s impeachment.
But as far as many of us, both in and outside the media, are concerned, impeachment is not the only “I-word” we should be discussing and debating right now. There are at least seven such I-words that the gutless ones among the Democrats need to be aggressively pursuing in relation to Trump, in this specific order and soon:
Incarcerate…and most importantly: