Saturday, July 21, 2007

Impeachment: The responsibility of the citizens

Via Bill Moyer's Journal, July 13, 2007:

JOHN NICHOLS: --back in 1974, after Nixon had resigned, and said, "We must continue the impeachment process." It's-- it is under the Constitution certainly appropriate to do so. And we must continue it because we have to close the circle on presidential power. And the leaders in Congress, the Democratic leaders in Congress at the time said, "No, the-- country has suffered too much." Well, this is the problem. Our leaders treat us as children. They think that we cannot handle a serious dialogue about the future of our republic, about what it will be and how it will operate. And so, you know, to an extent, we begin to act like children. We, you know, follow other interests. We decide to be entertained rather than to be citizens.

Well, you know, and Bruce makes frequent references to the fall of the Roman Empire. You know, that's the point at where the fall comes. It doesn't come because of a bad leader. It doesn't come because of a dysfunctional Congress. It comes when the people accept that-- role of the child or of the subject and are no longer citizens. And so I think this moment becomes so very, very important because we know the high crimes and misdemeanors.

The people themselves have said, if the polls are correct, that, you know, something ought to be done. If nothing is done, if we do not step forward at this point, if we do not step up to this point, then we have, frankly, told the people, you know, you can even recognize that the king has no clothes, but we're not gonna put any clothes on him. And at that point, the country is in very, very dire circumstances.

According to the latest American Research Group poll on impeachment, only ~46% support beginning impeachment proceedings against George Bush: 69% of Democrats; 13% of Republicans and 50% of independents.

Only ~46%.

“As citizens of this democracy, you are the rulers and the ruled, the law-givers and the law-abiding, the beginning and the end.”
- Adlai Stevenson

There is no doubt that the paternalistic aura of the American presidency, in which the president is viewed not as someone elected to serve the needs of the country's citizens but to forward his own agenda on behalf of his party with a "father knows best" approach, has continually relegated the citizenry to the role of subservient children. And, as has been seen with every power grab, every law the Bush administration has flagrantly and so brazenly broken, too many citizens accept what they seem to believe is their ultimate fate.

The fact that the new pseudo-mother of the Democratic party, Nancy Pelosi, and her senate mate, the kindly, soft-spoken Harry Reid have refused to initiate impeachment proceedings on behalf of party members who clearly wish otherwise also illustrates the parent/child dynamic that so pervades politicians in leadership positions. Although it's not as if Democratic party voters weren't warned when Pelosi made it blisteringly clear prior to the election that impeachment was "off the table". The moment she made that assertion was the moment there should have been a huge, public revolt against the Democratic leadership, but the idea of finally reclaiming congress (as if that meant much of anything, as we've seen with the Democrats' absolutely dismal performance since that happened) was more important than standing up as citizens to reclaim their country.

When your leaders tell you they will not work on your behalf or when they have the power and refuse to use it, the job of a citizen is to hold them accountable. That applies to all leaders. That has not happened in a very public way amongst the American citizenry and it's doubtful that it will in any meaningful way.

If the Democratic leaders had actually done their job and started impeachment proceedings when they gained subpoena power, perhaps the evidence they could have brought forth to this point would have convinced more than that 46% of citizens overall who are now in favour of impeachment. One would think, as I certainly do, that Bush's own statements about how he knowingly broke the law in the case of the secret CIA prisons and the illegal wiretappings of American citizens (not to mention the illegal Iraq war) would have been enough for a massive groundswell of support for impeachment. Apparently not.

Of those citizens who do favour impeachment, their voices are simply being ignored - especially the 69% of Democrats in that poll who favour the proceedings. But, at the same time, perhaps the citizenry isn't making enough of an effort to be heard. One only has to look at the amazing protests held in other countries when a leader goes astray. It's as if, and is likely the case as Nichols pointed out, that they have foregone using the power they have after being treated like and acting like unruly children who are just a nuisance to democracy. After a while, you believe that any effort is just futile when you're subjected to authoritarianism.

Add to that the fact that at the largest so-called "progressive" site on the internet which exists to get Democrats elected - Daily Kos - kos, the owner, stated last December that talk of impeachment was "impeachment porn" and that those who have supported impeachment there have continually been bullied into toeing the Pelosi/Reid party line that impeachment would just take time away from the other "important work" the congress has to do (which, as we've seen with their failure to force an end to the Iraq war with anything resembling strength, has been a lost cause) and it's no surprise that Republican/conservative-style authoritarianism has been accepted as being the norm by far too many citizens - across the political spectrum. The "children" must be controlled. Barring that, they must be silenced.

The Impeach Bush site is planning a September 15th protest in Washington as a follow up to their protest earlier this year in March. But two protests in an entire year are just not enough either to rally more widespread support among a citizenry that Nichols characterized as preferring to be "entertained".

It is very likely that the Bush administration members who should be investigated for impeachment: Bush, Cheney, Gonzales and anyone else suspected of deserving such punishment - will walk away scott free in the end. That failure will rest on the shoulders of all Americans: that the most blatantly criminal administration in America's history was never held to account for the crimes it perpetrated on its own citizens who chose to enable it rather than to confront it - and that the failure to demand justice on behalf of the citizens of other countries who have also been the victims of those crimes will certainly not be forgotten.

If you want your country back, take it.

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