Discipline is often unpopular. Children avoid it, teens dislike it and parents are determined to give it to their offspring. As citizens, we need to discipline errant leaders. We must insist on discipline from those who serve in office; otherwise there will be none.
Parents occasionally learn what happens when they let kids ignore the rules. Chaos follows, and it’s hard to restore order. Ditto for a nation—let officials get away with mischief, and you see the ugly side of crisis. The US is approaching that stage now; we are faced with elected officials that badly need some discipline.
American constitutionalism can be described as a grandson once described football: it’s really simple, but it’s very complex. Our simple system is self-regulating: we like what our leaders do or we change them, with the voting process as our usual method. When that proves insufficient, especially for those who destroy the common good, things become more complex and require drastic action. We must then impeach the offender. This essential cleansing step protects from the abuses of a few. In business, its “You’re fired”; in driving, you lose your license; in churches, you get excommunicated. In politics we impeach to discipline; not frivolously, but for excellent cause. This key self-regulator is on a par with chemotherapy for cancer or pulling an abscessed tooth—it’s painful. If we must save the system, however, we have a vehicle to do so.
Deeds that invite this drastic discipline are serious threats to the nation, but we must insist to our elected representatives and government officials that they are not above the law; that they serve under the Constitution. Thomas Jefferson explained the dilemma of bad government in the Declaration of Independence: “whenever any Form of government is destructive…it is the Right of the people to alter or abolish it and to institute new government“. That action extends to individuals, as well: Article II section 4 of the Constitution tells us to impeach a president for “treason, bribery, or other high crimes or misdemeanors”. Treason is defined in the Constitution as “levying war against (the United States) or…adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort.”
President Obama has met the impeachable criteria many times over. In Bengazi, he stood with the enemy that killed Americans and then deceived the American people. In the IRS scandal, he waged war against Americans across his political aisle. On immigration, his executive orders legalized those here illegally, including those known in their home nations as criminals and gang members. He offered them financial support without permission from the American people. His actions stirred protests from his own and the media, which usually issues him a blank check. He has, and continues to, lie on a dozen matters, including emerging proof of his deliberate public deceptions on Obamacare—the Affordable Care Act. All of these actions and more demand our discipline.
The process to impeach requires both houses of Congress. The House of Representatives brings the charges and the Senate, under oath, conducts the trial to remove from office. Thus, Congress must carry out this agenda. Our past experience with President Clinton has confused the issue: the House brought charges, the Senate stalled, and Clinton remained in office. Will the current legislature act on illegalities? We should demand it; the Republicans—the party of opposition—should insist on it. Republican leadership, however, is weak and ineffectual, dedicated to whining and capitulation. With massive evidence pushing the situation, we need action.
When federal officials break the law without consequence, state officials follow suit, and they are. As an example, there have been at least 24 illegal changes made unilaterally by President Obama to his own healthcare law since its passage rendered it unchangeable. (Galen Institute, November 2014) Is it any wonder that Grassfire now reports that the newly elected governor of Virginia, Terry McAuliff, an Obama protégé, has now unconstitutionally altered Virginia’s Obamacare laws, as well? The copycat syndrome is real and illegality spreads. With little warning, official violations of the law could become the norm, bringing tyranny. Taking action to halt abuses of power will send a message to officials at all levels: “We are watching. Obey the law.”
Disciplining our elected officials is our constitutional duty. It is also a moral and political necessity. If we don’t punish infractions, why would the infractions stop? If we don’t insist on law and order, we will have neither.
When bad leaders get into office or good leaders go bad, they must be mercifully removed to preserve the Union. It’s a citizen duty to do so—the price we pay for the freedoms we use. There is great danger in not impeaching when actions warrant it. If we refuse, we declare that our system isn’t worth fighting for, or that we are too timid to do the hard stuff. We nullify our own protections when we fail to use them. The decision to impeach is a statement of values and priorities: we value justice enough to get it; to pay the price of time and attention to insist on it.
It is our constitutional duty to impeach those who destroy freedom. “America is our name, and freedom is our game”: that’s been our motto for 227 years now. If we plan to keep it, we have some housecleaning to do.