Dems face a decision-- do the right, courageous thing, and have an opportunity for incredible new levels of long term power in congress, or reach for new lows of spineless cowardice and settle for holding on to or slightly increasing their power, for a short time, in the congress.
I gave a talk at a local Democratic precinct last night. I started my talk asking a question.
100% responded yes, when I asked whether they felt Cheney had committed impeachable crimes. But the support for impeachment hearings dropped to 60-70% and people talked about not enough time, about offending voters, about not being able to win in the senate. I could rebut most, but they are afraid it will go against the grain of the message Obama is sending of unity, healing and moving forward together.
I don't agree. One man, Neil, suggested that the hearings would grab and hold the media's attention and the election would be ignored. "Great," I replied. "That's exactly what happened in 2006 when news about Foley, the congressman who sent sexual messages to congressional aides came out. The scandal filled the airwaves and helped the Democrats score an even larger victory than expected. The scandal that will ooze out of the Cheney impeachment hearings will be even more effective in helping the Democrats," I replied.
There was one under 25, probably under 20 young lady present. A boomer aged guy, Dave, who identified himself as a progressive, suggested that impeachment might turn off the kids who have entered the political sphere because of their enthusiasm for Obama's positive message. He asked this young lady to speak for the millions of young people in the race. "Well, yeah," she replied, hesitantly. "I like the positive approach Obama has brought."
I replied, "well my three under 30 voting age children are all for impeachment. But I've been priming them," I admitted.
I told them that polling showed that under- 30 voters support impeachment hearings for Cheney more than any other group. The oldest people attending the group were women over 50 (actually, one over 50, one over 70.) Both of them supported impeachment hearings, perhaps the most vociferously. Matter of fact, women there were more in favor of impeachment. Most of those who expressed fear that impeachment would get in the way of a successful presidential campaign were men.
The response of this group was cordial. But it seemed like the more we talked the more the two or three naysayers, the ones who were afraid-- afraid to offend republicans, afraid to rock the boat, afraid to turn off young people--- were influencing the others, so, when a member of the group handed out a proposal that the group support impeachment, it was tabled, for not having enough committee people there, even though half an hour early another vote had been made, without any mention of not having enough present. Just like Kucinich's bill is stuck in committee. Who knows? They said they'd email it out to members for a vote at the next meeting, but those people will not have heard the arguments I made. I'm not hopeful.
At some point in the meeting, as these arguments of the danger and risks kept being raised, I began thinking that there's a reason the congressional dems are spineless invertebrates. They are elected by spineless invertebrates. Not all the people were. I've worked with lawyers in the past. Lawyers give advice to prevent litigation and risk. The problem is, lawyers are often dealkillers. They are so cautious, that if you pay attention to all the warnings, nothing gets done. The naysayers were like lawyers, and the three or four naysayers were changing the mood of the audience. I realized that part of the job I had was "Obama-esque." I had to move these people emotionally and reach them at a level that went beyond just logic and words. I had to get them feeling patriotic and passionate. The potential was there.
The plan was to use the proposition that had been written up be another county's democrats. Barbara, a member of the district rose, on cue, and handed out the copy of the proposition. It was long and detailed. I realized, after doing my talk, that this was not going to fly. Something really simple was called for. A simple one or two sentence statement might fly, but not a single spaced legalese document loaded with wherefors.
The impeachment movement has a tough road ahead. One hundred percent of this group felt that Cheney deserved impeachment. But the fear that it will hurt election chances is great. I am convinced that impeachment will dramatically HELP the democrats score even bigger victories. Impeachment hearings could even give the dems a 60 vote majority in the senate, something that non-one envisions with ordinary tactics.
The challenge is to get people off their comfortable butts. The question for democrats is not if impeachment is the RIGHT thing to do. They know Cheney is guilty. It is a question of courage and character. If the Democratic leadership takes the easier, lower risk path, they will probably hold on to their slim majority in the senate, even grow it by a few votes. But if they want to really take the high ground, build a lasting power base and possibly even take an un-fillibusterable 60 or more senate majority, they're going to have to take a small risk-- one that offers an incredible upside and minimal downside. They have to go for impeachment hearings.
The hearings are the right thing to do. They are the constitutional and the courageous thing to do. Will the Dems embrace the opportunity or stumble, spinelessly forward?