Today, I would like to address impeachment. It’s a word being bandied about currently, although more often by Democrats than Republicans, simply because they find it politically useful as a scare tactic, “informing” their supporters that Republicans are evil—that they are essentially racists who hate having a black president.
As a historian and a student of constitutionalism, I understand why impeachment was included in the Constitution. It is a safeguard against those in the executive and judicial branches who flagrantly abuse their office.
If you look at the history of impeachment as it existed in Britain and was carried over to the United States, you have to acknowledge that it is a political tool to curb abuse, and it’s not necessary for the accused to be found guilty of breaking a law. Poor character and a policy of deception that undermines faith in the government are also valid reasons for impeachment and removal from office.
It has been used selectively, primarily against federal judges. Only once has an impeachment of a Supreme Court justice been pursued—Thomas Jefferson tried, unsuccessfully, to remove Samuel Chase from the Court. However, a number of judges below the Supreme Court level have lost their positions through impeachment.
In my opinion, this tool should be used more often against federal judges who violate their oath to uphold the Constitution. Whenever a federal judge decides to declare his/her own law, such as decreeing that same-sex marriage is perfectly constitutional, that judge should be a target for impeachment.
At the presidential level, though, it will always be difficult to impeach. We’ve tried twice and failed. Andrew Johnson squeaked by his impeachment trial by one vote; Bill Clinton remained in office only because not even one Democrat would vote for his removal, despite despicable behavior that demeaned the office of the presidency in a way seldom achieved throughout our history. Richard Nixon would have been impeached if it had come to a vote, but he resigned before that was necessary.
I’m a fan of impeachment in principle. However, there are political realities. We always have to decide if an attempt to remove a president is feasible, or if it will do more harm than good if unsuccessful. No one should question my fidelity to the Constitution or to the value of impeachment. For evidence, I offer my book on the Clinton impeachment. There are times it must be attempted, and I continue to honor those who made that attempt in 1999.
Which brings me to the moment at hand. I’ve heard a number of conservatives, who are justifiably angry over the abundance of unconstitutional actions by President Obama, call for impeachment. They are correct in principle: he, far more than any previous president, has violated his constitutional oath. His goal of transforming America into an image spawned from his own anti-colonial, Marxist foundations, has done substantial damage to this country.
But I’m also opposed, at this time, to any move toward impeachment. I realize I run the risk of being called unprincipled. I beg to differ. Wisdom is never unprincipled.
First, please tell me how we get 67 senators to vote for his removal? If you can convince me on that point, I will be on board. However, as in the case against Clinton, it will be virtually impossible, short of the president murdering someone on live television. Democrats will circle the wagon no matter how disgruntled they are with him.
Then there’s the media. We have to be realistic about how this will be portrayed. As I noted above, the race card will be played incessantly. All you have to do is look at the Ferguson fiasco. You have a thug who robbed a store, then fought with a policeman for his gun, then charged the policeman with intent to harm/kill. What has he become? Some kind of hero. It’s a fantasy, but one that has fanned the flames of violence. What violence might we see if Obama goes through an impeachment process? The media will ensure it, as it comes to his aid.
All the time taken up for impeachment will be a drain on any genuine efforts to curtail Obama’s incipient tyranny. Based on principle, I say that Republicans need, instead, to focus their attention on any and all measures that will keep this president from achieving his aims. What to do?
- Defund any government agency that is tasked with carrying out his unconstitutional actions.
- Pass bills, now that Republicans will control both houses of Congress, that will put us back on the path to constitutionalism; if Obama vetoes them, he will be responsible, and all will see his disdain for the rule of law. He’s never been made to take stands before because the Senate, under Harry Reid, protected him from having to decide on proposed bills by never allowing votes on them.
- Push for lawsuits against his disregard for the Constitution, to show the public just how he has tried to set himself up as a petty dictator.
- Begin impeachment proceedings against key federal judges who have allowed the government to run amuck.
- Actively work with the movement to call for a Convention of the States (as authorized in the Constitution) to draft amendments to the Constitution that will further limit the power of those who seek to undermine liberty.
- Become effective at educating the American people on the principles that form the foundation of our government and the need to abide by those principles.
I’m sure there are more options I haven’t thought of, but those are a start. We will be far more effective if we concentrate our efforts on measures like these rather than pursue an impeachment course that will only end in failure.
It is principled to take steps toward constitutionalism; it is foolishness to take a step that will waste time and energy and ultimately lead to political disaster. It may feel good to vent our frustration via impeachment, but what will it actually accomplish? Unfortunately, I believe it will harm efforts to reverse the course of our government.
I know there will be those who disagree with my assessment, and if anyone can offer valid arguments to offset what I’ve said, I will certainly listen. Right now, though, this is where I stand, and I believe it is a principled stand.