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November 4, 2008

A state of permanent preparedness for impeachment

Quote of the Day: “Under democracy, one party always devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule – and both commonly succeed, and are right.” Source: “Minority Report” (The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997 [1956]), p. 222

Subject: A state of permanent preparedness for impeachment

It’s Election Day. What should we say about it? We’re tempted to declare it a day of mourning, but instead, we’re going to argue that today is the day to adopt a state of permanent preparedness for impeachment.

As of yet, neither a Democrat nor a Republican has been elected President. That outcome will be revealed later today. But before that happens, we should commit ourselves to closely monitor the actions of the new President, and to be ready to call for his impeachment, should that become warranted.

We should be prepared to do this regardless of partisan loyalties.

What warrants impeachment? Different people will have different standards. We plan to maintain a running “bill of impeachment,” listing broken laws, Constitutional violations, and abuses of power. It will be up to you to agree or disagree with the items we choose to list, and to decide whether or not any one item or group of items justifies impeachment.

It’s possible, given your level of sensitivity, that the new President could do something on his first day that would immediately warrant impeachment in your eyes, or that he will never do enough bad things to justify such an action.

The call will be yours.

Some people reasonably object that impeachment is too vulnerable to partisan ax grinding. There are also many things for which a president could be impeached of which the impeachers themselves will be guilty. It is precisely these concerns that prevented us from advocating the impeachment of President Bush. But . . .

We have come to believe, after long consideration, that this was a mistake on our part. President Bush should have been impeached. In our view, he richly deserved it, as have many previous presidents, both Democrat and Republican.

The Founders provided impeachment as one of many checks on government power. In doing so they were painfully aware of the dangers of faction, or what we call partisanship. They must also have known that no president would ever be impeached by a saintly Congress. But they provided for the impeachment power anyway. We think we know why . . .

Unchecked government power is so toxic that it must be limited by every means available. Impeachment is one tool for doing so, even when it is tainted by partisanship and hypocrisy.

Which is better, to allow a president to run wild, or to check his criminality through impeachment, even if the impeachers are hypocrites with partisan motives? We would choose the latter outcome.

But there is one other factor to consider. The mere threat of impeachment could itself regulate presidential actions, long before formal impeachment proceedings became necessary. This is especially true if the President and Congress begin hearing a growing cry for impeachment from a large number of citizens.

Calling for impeachment, when each of us feels it is justified, could serve as a powerful warning to both the President and Congress.

As of today, there is no “bill of indictment” for an impeachment proceeding. No such list can even be compiled for the new president until after January 20, 2009. But what we can do today is warn Congress that we intend to be vigilant this time. Toward that end . . .

We’ve created a permanent impeachment campaign, where we will list, if necessary, any potentially impeachable offenses by the incoming president. In the meantime, the message-to-Congress for this campaign reads as follows . . .

“I’m serving notice that I’ll be watching the actions of the incoming president very closely. Should he break laws, violate the Constitution, or abuse his power, I’ll be urging you, early and often, to start impeachment proceedings.”

If you like the idea of maintaining a “permanent state of impeachment preparedness” then use our Educate the Powerful System to send this message to Congress.

If you feel that President Bush should have been impeached, then you could, if you wish, use your personal comments to state this opinion, and any supporting justifications you care to mention.

This is the most appropriate action we can suggest on Election Day.

Thank you for being a member of the growing Downsize DC army.

Jim Babka
President, Inc.

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