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The Road Ahead and the Audacity of Moral Truth

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If you were buying a car and the auto salesman told you "This car’s great, there’s only one problem: you can only steer it every four years, in between it's out of your control," what would you think? Wouldn’t you look at the salesman and think he was crazy? Wouldn’t you go looking for another form of transportation?

The car that we’re in right now – the Bush and Cheney mobile - is a death trap.

Many people are checking out the new models, hoping they can trade in Bush and Cheney for a better car: the Obama, the McCain or the Clinton. They’re kicking the tires, checking out the interior, looking under the hood. The car lot is full of balloons and banners, promising all kinds of things.

The problem is: these new models are also not subject to being steered but every four years.

At least, that is, if you believe the version of politics that many people do in which the people’s political role is exercised exclusively in the electoral arena and via the ballot box specifically.

As an impeachment activist put it recently: “This period before the election is when our power to cause accountability via impeachment is at its strongest. Our power will diminish nearly to zero after the election. The individual Congressmen will after the election have no reason to fear us.”

What kind of “democracy” is it where the people have no power after Election Day and where they only have power in the months leading up to the next Election Day?

If this is the case, what kind of political system do we have, really?

This isn’t power “of, by and for the people.”

This is “offend, buy off and force the people.”

Contrary to popular belief, public officials do not mainly worry about their constituents’ votes. They do, of course, want to gain and hold onto office, but they know that the constituency they must please first and foremost is a) their party’s leadership and b) the mass media. If they don’t please their party’s leadership and the mass media, then it doesn’t matter how popular they are among their constituents, they will either be severely marginalized or their political career extinguished.

When impeachment activists lobbied Congress this past fall and winter, senatorial and house staff told them that their legislators already knew that the people wanted impeachment: members of Congress weren’t supporting impeachment because they “were listening to their party’s leadership.”

Hearing from more and more of their constituents within the framework of lobbying isn’t changing politicians’ minds. These “representatives” continue to tell us transparently false things such as that impeachment is “reserved for extraordinary circumstances” and “I haven’t seen any impeachable offenses.”

If these august leaders can’t see that Bush and Cheney have committed towering crimes that far exceed the standards for impeachment and actually constitute crimes deserving of trials at the Hague for war crimes and crimes against humanity, then why would these same perspicacious and sage leaders be woken up by constituents’ redundant entreaties?

If the torture of innocents isn’t sufficient grounds for these public officials, these leaders of the people, to be stirred into action, if illegal, immoral, and unjust wars - based on lies - that have killed 1.2 million Iraqis and thousands of Americans to date aren’t enough, if the intensifying threats and obvious moves to the launch of yet another unjust and immoral war, this time on Iran, based again on lies, and likely to provoke a worldwide firestorm of unpredictable ferocity, aren’t enough, if the debacle of Katrina and the sight of Americans bodies floating face down in the flood waters and a legendary city in ruins isn’t enough, if the express and felonious violation of FISA with warrantless spying on all of us seven months before 9/11 isn’t enough, if the White House’s refusal to even accept Congress’ subpoenas for White House staff and Vice-President Cheney to testify before Congress isn’t enough, then what pray tell, would be enough?

When Vichy* Nancy Pelosi declared that “impeachment is off the table,” she was giving the Bush regime the green light to do whatever they pleased because she was telling them that the one Constitutional remedy for holding the White House accountable would not under any circumstances be used.

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Cal Poly Pomona Sociology Professor. Author of "Globalization and the Demolition of Society," co-editor/author (with Peter Phillips) of "Impeach the President: the Case Against Bush and Cheney." National Steering Committee Member of the World Can't (more...)
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