Little did voters realize last November, when electing a Democratic majority to stand up to the most reckless Administration in US history, that party leaders had their own agenda. The Democratic Party agenda was to play it safe and wait for Bush and Cheney to lose Iraq so resoundingly that Republicans would ditch their party in droves. The Democratic agenda was to capture the center and hold it indefinitely. They didn’t mind the war lasting another two years, they just didn’t want to be the ones to lose it.
Playing it safe has not panned out for the Democrats. For, as much as people hate and fear this Administration, many admire what passes for guts in its Machiavellian burlesque. One wonders, given the failure of the one-size-fits-all program they’ve been flogging these last three decades (and the loss of Congress during Clinton certainly pertains), why the Democrats don’t try showing their guts? After all, notwithstanding the theft of the vote in Ohio, John Kerry didn’t lose because he was out of step with Americans. He lost because he slept until October!
When Bush vetoed the appropriations bill, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid instantly pledged to remove their deadline demands. Pelosi’s excuse was, “We don’t have the votes.” That’s a real concern, no doubt, but what she never dared was to call Bush’s bluff. She never said, out loud so the country could hear, “This money’s not for the troops, it’s for the war! It’s for more of the same!” She never forced him to compromise.
As it stands, that won’t happen. Unless they show their mettle, Bush won’t negotiate with them; he has no reason or intent to. He doesn’t respect them, or anyone, and short of impeachment, he knows he can do what he likes. He’s like Paris Hilton. He’s daring them to put him away. Waiting him out will bring them no new legislation, none with teeth anyway, which is their second excuse to not impeach. Meanwhile, waiting may well backfire and make it a much closer ’08 race than they’d planned. After the appropriations fumble, one could hear disappointed minds all over the country slamming shut to the Democratic “difference.”
In the few national polls on impeachment (notice how few there’ve been, as if the pollsters don’t want to know), a majority favors it. City after city has passed and numerous states are considering resolutions in favor. These are not just raging liberals, but also millions of former Bush-Cheney voters — including evangelical Christians — who are furious at the lies and destruction committed in their names.
Americans know that Bush’s and Cheney’s record of havoc and misery is unprecedented in our history. They’ve driven our Cadillac of a country into a swamp. If they were your relatives, you’d have them committed. The sheer number of their crimes is benumbing. They launched an unprovoked, ill-conceived and illegal war that’s leveled a nation and killed, maimed and displaced millions of innocents. That’s a war crime. They didn’t just “sanction” the use of torture, they ordered it. That’s a war crime. They’re holding prisoners without charge or trial. That’s a war crime. Here at home, Bush bungled the government response to Hurricane Katrina, even as he swore help was on its way. That’s malfeasance. They’ve spied on American citizens without warrants or probable cause, in direct contravention of the Fourth Amendment. They’ve installed political commissars in every government department, destroying those offices’ very ability to function. Those rights and government functions, nurtured over centuries, will not magically reappear when Bush and Cheney leave. They’re gone! Their misdeeds were not mere political choices that didn't work out. They were conscious abuses of power, and as such, impeachable offenses.
We are at a crossroads in this country. On the other side is the trash heap of history, the repository for swollen empires dead of debt and sloth and imperial overreach, and an inability to adapt to change. The rest of the world is already swimming around us like fish past a dead whale. See Bush run to suddenly lead the global warming parade.
Given that and the Democrats’ refusal to consider impeachment, save for Dennis Kucinich’s cry in the wilderness, what’s left for the movement? Mass action is what. The grassroots has to take it on and force Congress to take it up. Toward that end, a coalition of antiwar groups across the country is organizing a series of events for this summer, culminating on September 11. On June 21, a “March of the People” will start from Chicago for an 800-mile trek to Washington. World Can’t Wait is staging ad hoc meetings around the country and a National Youth Conference in San Francisco to kick off next week. Meanwhile, we at Impeach9ll and the District 9 Impeachment Coalition are organizing mass rallies around the country. We are calling for musicians and committed “celebrities” to participate in order to bring as much attention as possible to this essential issue. We’re looking for patriots of all stripes to show up and demand that Congress take up impeachment before Bush and Cheney leave office.
While the Democrats warn what could happen if we impeach, we are far worse off if we don’t. To not impeach broadcasts to America and the world that institutional corruption in America is so pervasive that the highest bodies in the land are afraid, unwilling or disinterested to stop it. No other modern nation would tolerate such corruption without a peep. To see the mighty Americans sleep through such a nightmare, content to let others do their thinking for them, bodes ill for the future of our republic.
We cannot wait for Bush’s and Cheney’s next patented disaster. Will they bomb Iran, as they’ve been actively planning for some three years now? Will they impose martial law here at home, as now permitted by the Warner Act of 2007? Will their flagrant disregard for the Constitution and human rights harden into business as usual? Do we really dare to wait and see how bad it can get?
The Democrats are worried they’ll lose votes for pursuing impeachment. They’d do better to worry if they don’t.