By Dave Lindorff
It's not just the Constitution that's suffering because of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's nutty and unprincipled "impeachment-off-the-table" position blocking any effort to impeach President Bush or Vice President Cheney for their many crimes and abuses of power.
Her position on impeachment is killing the Democratic Party too, by driving away not just progressived members of the party, but independents who voted for Democrats last November expecting some action in defense of the Constitution.
I see this anger welling up among progressives and independents everywhere I travel, as people say they've simply had it with the Democrats. The support of the party for a bill continuing funding for the war through September was terrible. The Democrats' rush to pass a bill granting Bush the authority to spy without a warrant on Americans, and to expand the power to spy domestically well beyond phones and internet to even include break-ins was a last straw.
Four or five hundred party defectors may seem like small loss, but it reflects a larger trend across the country.
Here's a letter I got from the head of a group of active Democrats in central Pennsylvania--the very kind of heartland area that Democrats will need if they are going to win the presidency and hang on to or make gains in Congress next year.
I am the president of a very active grassroots Democratic club just outside Philadelphia in PA. Recently, I got an email from Nancy Pelosi, asking all of us to help build the grassroots.
EXCUSE ME Nancy, but we have been working our butts off out here for years trying to do just that. WE are the ones that put that Democrats back in power in Congress. We've been there for you, but you have let us down by not holding the current administration responsible for their crimes.
Not only are you losing us...you are making it impossible for us to "build the grassroots". Do you know how people look at you now when you ask them to join the Democrats? They laugh in your face. Why, they want to know, should we join or support a party that has done nothing toward getting out of Iraq or impeaching this president?
I am in contact with other Democratic clubs across PA. Some have recently changed the word "Democrats" in their name to a lower case "d". Others have abandoned their association with the Democrats altogether and have formed instead "citizen action groups."
When will the Democrats in Washington wake up and realize that it's not impeachment that will hurt the party...it is the lack of it.
I believe that the aptly named Ember is just one spark in a prairie fire that is going to sweep away the conservative Democratic establishment in 2008. Whether it is by turning to third party candidates, or just sitting out the next election, these angry and frustrated Democrats are showing that they've been betrayed one too many times by the Democratic Party.
Either Pelosi--who is facing an election challenge by Cindy Sheehan in her own San Francisco district--better do an about face and open the path to impeachment of Bush and/or Cheney. Otherwise, she and her fellow party leaders are going to find themselves either ousted in primaries, or back in the position of minority "leaders" in 2009.
Dave LINDORFF is a Philadelphia-based investigative reporter and columnist. His latest book, "The Case for Impeachment," co-authored by Barbara Olshansky (St. Martin's Press, 2006) was just released this summer in a paperback edition. His work is available at www.thiscantbehappening.net