Written by: Colin Offenbacker
The House of Representatives have begun what could and probably will end in articles of impeachment toward President Donald J. Trump for committing “high crimes and misdemeanors”. He (Trump) officially joins the ranks of other U.S. Presidents who have had to deal with the imposition of that great political phantom known as impeachment. Given the amount of Presidents the United States of America has seen since its inception, the percentage of Presidents who have dealt with impeachment in some fashion is relatively small, at about 16%. If that percentage doesn’t give it away, its safe to say that this group of Presidents include more than just the two we remember from contemporary history.
Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton are the two names that most media outlets recall when examining previous attempts at Congressional impeachment, reaching back through history occasionally to bring up Andrew Johnson who was impeached, but not removed from office back in 1868. Their are however more cases of impeachment that are never really talked about. James Buchanan in 1860, John Tyler in 1843 and even another contemporary name which is probably familiar to many people these days, George W. Bush. Unlike the former, the impeachment attempts on the ladder Presidents never made their way to full Senatorial court like hearings due to either failing to meet the Congressional voting threshold required to initiate the official impeachment process, or simply failing to even get out of committee and onto the House floor for the voting process all together.
President George W. Bush in fact had 35 articles of impeachment drafted against him in 2008, all pertaining to his involvement in and around what lead to and ultimately became the conflict we now refer to as “The War in Iraq”. Though the Resolution (H.Res. 1258 (110th): Impeaching George W. Bush, President of the United States, of high crimes and misdemeanors) was referred to committee at the time, it failed to go any further and simply disappeared into the historical archives, which can now be found online, and might I add, is a very compelling read.
Considering all the political bluster coming from “The Hill” on how this particular impeachment is being handled, Republicans screaming about a failure in process and how the Democrats are holding hearings behind closed doors, it is important to remember our time in Civics 101. The United States Constitution, Article I, Section II, states, “The House of Representatives shall chuse (choose) their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.” And yes, that is literally the extent of it, at least as to it’s involvement with the House. It does layout a few more guidelines for the moment it gets pushed up into the Senate but as of right now, were at step one, the House. That singular statement, boiled down to realistic terms, means that the House can run impeachment anyway the House chooses to run their impeachment. Since Representative Nancy Pelosi was elected as Speaker of the House by the members of the House, impeachment can be done whichever way she chooses. Regardless of who says what about how Speaker Pelosi is running the impeachment, it’s simply her prerogative to do it how ever she sees fit. If any member of congress decides that they don’t like it, it is up to them to form a coalition of members and propose a Constitutional Amendment. Simply complaining about it without taking any form of action comes off as nothing more than a political temper tantrum, a “woe is me” form of pandering to an ill informed voting block. Frankly, I find it rather pathetic.
Without getting into all the ins and outs of this particular attempt at impeachment, it’s so called validity, and it’s possible outcomes in the Senate if and when it does make it’s way there, there is one factor I want to focus on here and now. A factor that has bothered my since the word impeachment first crossed the threshold from governmental process into popularized vernacular. For example, when Congressperson (I say ‘person’ because she is a member of ‘the squad’ and I don’t want to assume her gender identity) Rashida Tlaib recounted a conversation she had after winner her Congressional seat and being sworn in to office, in which she said “And when your son looks at you and says, ‘Mama, look, you won. Bullies don’t win,’ and I said, ‘Baby, they don’t’ – because we’re gonna go in there and we’re going to impeach the motherfucker.” Impeach the motherfucker…? Really? Is that what you’re going to tell you son? I don’t mean to purposefully pick on a member of “the squad” so much as to illustrate a point. That point being, the use of the term impeachment in its very present context was popularized in malice. Malice that has been palpable since before President Trump was even sworn into office. It is this malice, I believe, that has truly done the most damage. Blinded by rage and an unyielding call to somehow, one way or the other remove a President from office (deservedly so or not) the congress has neglected to do their own civil duty. The job we literally pay them to do. Regardless of what they themselves might think, no congress member was elected to impeach the President. They were elected to represent their constituents on the federal level. Yes, that might include bringing an impeachment view reflective of their constituents but it is also to do the job of legislating on their behalf.
Remember about 5 seconds ago when we had a massive immigration crisis? Remember the kids being locked in cages as the government walked the tightrope between following legal precedent and violating human rights? As impeachment rolls on and heats up, the U.S. Congress has yet to address the problematic 1997 Flores Agreement which caused the “kids in cages” problem to begin with. They have failed to address the undeniable problems in our immigration system in general in fact. They’re has been zero discussion outside of the Presidential nominees addressing, overpriced college costs and why that might be, much less how to approach a fix. No talk of how to address the national debt, something that could literally sink our entire economy overnight given the right circumstances. No talk on the cost of housing and how to approach that. Some of our biggest cities are crumbling, California is on fire and homelessness has grown out of control. The list of domestic issues going seriously undiscussed is so long it pains me to even think of how many their might actually be.
Globally the story isn’t much different. Russia is still more or less at war with Ukraine and have begun cementing their influence in the middle east. Iran has begun fueling centrifuges, and has resumed uranium enrichment at their facility in Fordow. China is running active concentration camps, they’re suppressing a call for freedom and democracy in Hong Kong not to mention Tibet and the other nation states it has systematically just absorbed into its communist ranks, their belt and road initiative is still paving the way for them to become a national global economic oligarch. And let us not forget the Kim regime in North Korea is still a thing. That is just to name a few situations the United States Congress should be, at the very least, discussing. But no, all eyes and ears are solely focused on, to steal a line from Rep. Tlaib, impeaching the motherfucker.
Whether or not the current impeachment inquiry manifests into actual articles of impeachment, passes a House vote and goes on to a Senate trial seems almost inconsequential when balanced on scale with the “issues” of the day. Don’t get me wrong, I wholeheartedly believe in getting to the bottom of this “Ukrainian Affair” I just wish the Congress could walk and chew gum at the same time. But then again, that’s just the opinion of one guy. But then again, maybe it isn’t.