The Ecology of Impeachment

The American electorate is looking more and more like the polar bear stranded on a shrinking ice floe — still powerful but with democracy melting out from under our feet. Unlike the polar bear, however, we should be able to analyze our situation and take action. The first thing we have to do is accept that certain familiar features of our habitat, which we have depended on in the past, are just gone.

We now have more media outlets than ever before, but their mission seems to be to drown out any molecule of truth. And our inter-dependent voting and justice systems have been reduced to slivers of their former selves.

For example, as time has gone by, the true significance of the Supreme Court’s selection of George W. Bush as president has become more and more painfully clear, in spite of efforts on the part of the media and across the political spectrum to obscure the bald truth: In Bush v. Gore, the Supreme Court shamelessly sided with a gang of Republican congressional aides swinging baseball bats who originally shut down the vote count and threw the case into the courts.

Jamin Raskin argued in March, 2001, in an article titled “Bandits in Black Robes,” that Bush v. Gore is easily the worst Supreme Court decision in history — even worse than Dred Scott, because in the case of Scott, justices could truthfully argue that the unamended 1857 (pre-Civil War) Constitution did regard black people as less than human. It was at least consistent. Not so with Bush v. Gore. Raskin says:

In a slapdash job of constitutional interpretation, the conservatives ravaged four foundational relationships in our constitutional system. It usurped the role of the Florida Supreme Court in interpreting state law. It usurped the role of the American people by halting the counting of ballots in a presidential election and effectively choosing the president for them. It usurped Congress’ powers to accept or reject the states’ electoral college votes. And it reversed the proper distribution of powers in federal government by having Supreme Court justices appoint the president rather than vice versa.

It’s important to remember that this was not a recount in the usual sense. Florida’s punch machines produced a number of so-called over-votes and under-votes. These were valid votes, but physical inspection of the ballot was necessary — and feasible. Often the voter’s intention was completely clear.

The media had already called the election in GWB’s favor, which no doubt gave the Florida GOP legislature, under Jeb Bush, the courage and ass-coverage to declare that they would send electors committed to George W. Bush, no matter what the outcome of the actual vote count.

Agreeing with Jeb and going even further, the Supreme Court used the opinion to remind the American people that the electorate does not really have a constitutional right to vote. The Constitution only mentions electors; the popular vote is just a custom.

Supreme Court justices appointing the president in defiance of the popular vote — in a total repudiation of the right to a popular vote — that’s about as activist as you can get. And we already have indications that Bush’s appointees to the Court are continuing in the same direction.

Starting off his tenure with the breathtaking gall that would soon become familiar, one of Bush’s first initiatives prescribed the remedy for his own theft of office: the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), which required every state in the union to buy electronic vote machines — from highly partisan Republican vendors.

In spite of the crudeness of these power grabs, most of which took place right out in the open, it is only now that we can begin to see how it all came together. In an important article by Steven Rosenfeld and Bob Fitrakis, “Network Hosting Attorney Scandal E-Mails Also Hosted Ohio’s 2004 Election Results,” we not only get more evidence that the GOP hacked electronic voting machines in Ohio in 2004, but we see how this links up with the firing of US District Attorneys:

There is more than ample documentation to show that on Election Night 2004, Ohio’s “official” Secretary of State website — which gave the world the presidential election results — was redirected from an Ohio government server to a group of servers that contain scores of Republican web sites, including the secret White House e-mail accounts that have emerged in the scandal surrounding Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’s firing of eight federal prosecutors.

Did you get that? The servers the White House used to carry on illegal e-mail correspondence with GOP Congress members about what they wanted from federal prosecutors — a wish list that included demands for prosecution of non-existent cases of voter identity theft and relief from the legitimate prosecution of Republicans — are the same servers that improperly hosted the 2004 Ohio election results.

Privatizing elections and allowing known partisans to run a key presidential vote count is troubling enough. But the reason Congress must investigate these high-tech ties is there is abundant evidence that Republicans could have used this computing network to delay announcing the winner of Ohio’s 2004 election while tinkering with the results.

I hope with all my heart that Congress heeds Rosenfeld and Fitrakis’s call for investigations into these servers.

It seems clear that as the electorate adapted and began to clean out partisan secretaries of state like Kenneth Blackwell, Karl Rove started maneuvering to put corrupt US district attorneys in place who would play a similar role in giving the GOP an illegal electoral edge.

It is very bitter to lose a tight election, particularly to right-wing authoritarians. But those of us who respect democracy tend to suck it up. We try, as the Honorable Justice Scalia suggested not too long ago, to “get over it.” We work to find a better candidate, we register new voters, we march. We even accept the winners’ right to select Supreme Court justices and appellate judges who will be around long after the victors are out of office.

But not when the “winners” never won. Not when the system is rigged. Not when the voting machines are sending data to the RNC to manipulate. Not when US attorneys are partisans.

Nor does the 2006 election prove that we’ve restored a meaningful connection between government and the will of the people. All it proves is that Democrats were able to overcome pervasive vote fraud with a sufficiently large national majority and a last-minute surge. That’s not exactly democracy.

Furthermore, accepting any electoral victory as our only redress for eight years of illegal leadership only legitimizes BushCo’s multiple, layered, ongoing crimes against the Constitution, humanity, and the planet we live on.

That’s why it isn’t enough for Democratic candidates simply to campaign for office; they have to lead. John Edwards has done that by refusing to debate at Fox-sponsored forums and by coming out against electronic touchscreen voting machines — the latter being of particular importance, given that congressional Dems still don’t understand the critical distinction between a paper trail and a paper ballot.

Mike Gravel did it in a recent debate by telling the truth about Iraq.

But most of all, Dennis Kucinich is giving the people a voice by submitting articles of impeachment against Dick Cheney.

The push for impeachment acknowledges two simple truths: we can’t wait for 2008, nor can we live with BushCo’s legacy. That is to say, we must not only remove GWB, but we must remove all the devices and stratagems his administration has used to subvert the Constitution including: signing statements and the concept of the unitary executive; the abrogation of the Geneva conventions, the concept of enemy combatants, extraordinary rendition, and Guantanamo; pre-emptive military attacks; warrantless spying on citizens; the unlabeled exchange of government propaganda for news; and much more.

These illegal maneuvers should not be available to future presidents of any party. Just as SCOTUS explicitly said that their ruling in Bush v. Gore could not be construed as a precedent, so the entire Bush presidency must be stripped of its power to set precedent — and nothing would go further toward that goal than impeachment.

Impeachment would also send a powerful warning to the Roberts’ Court that they, too, serve at the pleasure of the people.

Impeachment is the people’s powerful roar.

Read other articles by Patricia, or visit Patricia's website.

4 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Joe Ciarrocca said on May 11th, 2007 at 10:57am #

    Hmmm….ecology of impeachment….has a nice sound about it….ah….I think I prefer the Ecology of Prosecution of War Criminals…no matter what country they live in….especially war criminals that have already been declared guilty by numerous world tribunals.

  2. True Blue Liberal » The Ecology of Impeachment said on May 11th, 2007 at 1:58pm #

    […] Read more Impeachment […]

  3. Dee Loralei said on May 11th, 2007 at 7:53pm #

    Very well said and thank you. And I agree with JoeC also. Impeachment is the first step, the Hague and war crimes tribunals the last and final. Nancy Pelosi, et al., say “these people aren’t worth the time and effort to impeach them.” I say the Constitution is worth it and you gave numerous valid reasons why they are worth it, all of them. Followed by a thorough de-Bushification of all levels of the federal government. Thanks for the thought provoking post. I hope our views gain greater traction, and we’ll drag the congress along.

  4. Jason G. said on May 23rd, 2007 at 1:03pm #

    I agree with Gravel regarding a Bush/Cheney impeachment. Our first priority should be to get out of the war and pass related legislation. Once we’ve taken care of that, throw the book at every White House crook within throwing distance.

    I really am sick of those bastards.