This value is again asserting itself in grassroots impeachment movements across America. The Vermont Senate, several state Democratic parties, and many municipal governments have adopted resolutions supporting impeachment. More state legislatures would have acted except for pressure from Washington. Many polls show a majority of Americans support impeaching Cheney (a Nov. 13 American Research Group poll says 70 percent of Americans believe he abused his office), and slightly less than a majority support impeaching Bush.
Stonewalling such widespread public sentiment is itself divisive, leading at least half the country to feel their concerns about upholding the Constitution are being ignored. Only a serious airing of evidence in hearings would heal the split.
Undermining election prospects. When the impeachment process began, Nixon had just been reelected in one of the largest landslides in history. Few, if any, worried about whether impeachment was a political winner for Congress or the Democrats. Public opinion simply forced Congress' hand when Nixon fired Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox. After the Judiciary Committee conducted impartial hearings and voted on impeachment, Congress' approval ratings soared. Republicans were swamped in the November 1974 elections.
Whether or not they bring electoral rewards in 2008, impeachment proceedings are the right thing to do. They will help curb the serious abuses of this administration, and send a strong message to future administrations that no president or vice president is above the law.
Originally published in the Philadelphia Inquirer