themcglynn.com

20 Jun

If We Do Not Impeach

When we consider the actions of the Bush administration over the last 6 and 1/2 years, how do we explain the failure of our House of Representatives to bring impeachment proceedings against George Bush and Dick Cheney? How do we explain the failure to hold them accountable for the illegal and unconstitutional actions they have taken and for the resulting damage they have done to our country and the world?

How do we explain this failure to our children, our grandchildren, to whom we will leave, either a country that has confronted and addressed the assault on our democracy by Bush and Cheney, or a country that continues to sink deeper and deeper into an unconstitutional morass?

What do we say to our children, our grandchildren?

“Well, yes it’s true, they lied to us to gain support for their illegal and immoral invasion of a country that posed no imminent threat to us, resulting in the needless maiming and death of hundreds of thousands of human beings; an invasion and resulting occupation that has unleashed an ongoing wave of horrendous sectarian violence against innocent Iraqis, with no end in sight.

But we’ve been lied to before by our elected leaders during times of international conflict (remember Nixon), and war is hell, and after 9-11 . . . ”

Is that what we say to our children, our grandchildren?

“Well, yes, it’s true, for the first time in the history of our country, we have an administration, led by George Bush and Dick Cheney, that has legitimized and promoted the torture of prisoners (characterizing the Geneva Conventions as “quaint”), that has initiated a process of extraordinary rendition, secretly sending hundreds of prisoners (we really don’t know how many) to other countries to be tortured, and that has imprisoned hundreds of captives for years without charging them with any crime, destroying the lives of those being held captive, many of whom are very probably innocent of any wrongdoing, severely weakening our writ of habeas corpus, and ruining the good name of America in the world.

But other administrations have performed unconstitutional and illegal acts in (officially declared) times of crisis (remember Nixon), and after all, some of the prisoners might be terrorists, and after 9-11 . . . ”

Is that what we say to our children, our grandchildren?

“Well, yes, it’s true, this administration, led by George Bush and Dick Cheney, instituted an illegal, secret, electronic surveillance program, unencumbered by any judicial oversight, to spy on American citizens, collecting an unknown amount of data on an unknown number of Americans.

But we’ve been through illegal wire-tapping before (remember Nixon), and if you haven’t done anything wrong, you should not be worried, and after 9-11 . . . ”

Is that what we say to our children, our grandchildren?

“Yes, it’s true, this administration, led by George Bush and Dick Cheney, attempted and, perhaps, succeeded in creating their very own political fiefdom within our Department of Justice, subverting the Department’s work in fairly and impartially protecting American citizens.

But other administrations have used government offices, including the Department of Justice, for their own political ends (remember Nixon). That’s just politics. And didn’t Congress give them the mechanism to do this in the Patriot Act, after 9-11 . . . ”
Is that what we say to our children, our grandchildren?

“Yes, it’s true, George Bush and Dick Cheney have committed all of these questionable, illegal, unconstitutional actions, and more, but they were elected by the American people, twice. Weren’t they? And impeachment is such a bother. And who is it going to hurt if we don’t impeach?”

Is that what we say to our children, our grandchildren?

The question is a serious and troubling one to anyone who values our democratic way of life and who has looked into the abyss of a Bush-Cheney America. How do we explain the failure to impeach Bush and Cheney to our children, our grandchildren? How do explain this failure to the peoples of the world, to whom we preach the merits of democratic institutions? How do we explain this failure to ourselves? What does it mean?

Could it be that we are no longer living in a democratic country with three separate and equal branches of government, the members of which are legitimate only to the degree that they “preserve, protect, and defend” our Constitution? Could it be that we are no longer a constitutional republic?

But we can’t say that to our children, our grandchildren. Can we?

(Reply from the children: “But Nixon was impeached. Wasn’t he?”)

Mary Oleary-Mcglinn

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