This past weekend, Cindy Sheehan, John Boniface and I spoke in Greenfield and Northampton MA, and the flames are spreading south of our border as well. The Western Mass. Progressive Democrats of America are working with MA towns to organize impeachment resolutions for town meetings in the coming months. The energy is palpable in the air.
But our spontaneous and determined march for democracy now meets with an unlikely barricade: the very leaders whom we have grown to trust and admire, the men and women who have spoken for the conscience of the Democratic party, stand in our way. From the chair of the state House Judiciary committee, to Gaye Symington the Vermont Speaker of the House, to our Senators Leahy and Sanders, the Democrats have taken their lead from Nancy Pelosi’s declaration that impeachment is off the table and have so far refused to consider even debating the issue.
When our representatives took their oath of office, they swore to uphold and defend the Constitution. Our Democrats have instead made their first allegiance to their party. In violation of their oath, they are making an election-oriented political calculation about an issue that is the very bedrock of our Constitution.
To make it worse, this unpatriotic calculation is not even accurate. By relying on the outdated D.L.C. philosophy of staying as close as possible to the Republicans on issues, so as to not lose the middle, the Democrats will instead lose everyone.
Their actions with respect to ending the war in Iraq show that they are not with us. Their actions on impeachment show that, not only are they not with us, they are against us. Their actions to date have done
more to protect and defend George W. Bush than they have to defend the Constitution.
In November, America went to the polls and voted an overwhelming declaration against the war and the Bush administration’s policies. The Democrats knew this, yet they were out on November 8 saying that we had voted for bipartisanship and raising the minimum wage.
The same Democrats, who while in the minority were clamoring for the chance to investigate impeachment, are now saying that it is a luxury, or a waste of resources.
The American people have moved way beyond their leaders on this question. We can see clearly that the system has been violated, and we want it fixed.
Vermonters and neighbors in other states have been shocked to hear about the resistance of our Democratic representatives. Pat Leahy, Bernie Sanders and Gaye Symington have done many admirable things in their careers, and we have become complacent, assuming that they would always act in our and the Republic’s interest. They are proving us wrong. Are we now willing to shake off that complacency and call for accountability? Are we willing to chip away at some of the guild on our political icons and realign their foundations as necessary?
The Vermont legislature returns from a town meeting recess today, March 13. They will be greeted at lunch by citizen lobbyists, who will be scheduling meetings with the Speaker and other members, and buttonholing lawmakers every day that they are in session, convincing them that Vermonters deserve to have a debate on impeachment, and that the Judiciary Committee should stop sitting on an impeachment resolution introduced a month ago by over 20 co-sponsors, and instead start working on it.
Vermont airwaves and news pages will be carrying ads, spreading the news about our people’s movement.
If our representatives continue to refuse to take direct action to end the war and save the Constitution, their constituents will occupy their offices. This is a movement to turn anger into creative change. This movement is the expression of the people’s sovereignty.
Our freshman Congressman, Peter Welch, faces a predicament. Should he back the leadership of Nancy Pelosi, and take his place in line with all the other unremarkable Representatives who do as they’re told?
If he does, he can count on keeping his fine committee assignments and perhaps even moving up in the Democratic Party ranks.
Or will he listen to his constituents, take a stance for the constitution and file articles of impeachment against members of this administration? This would make him an American hero, not only in Vermont, where his bold action would be rewarded with a return ticket to Washington in ’08, but in America and the world as well.