Now that the Bushites have made it clear that the only way to defend the Constitution and the rule of law is to impeach them (see “Impeachment: The Time Has Come!”), one other thing has become clearer than it has ever been before: what the anti-Bushite movement must do.
It is time to organize to apply maximum pressure on Congress to move it to impeach the leaders of this lawless administration.
From one angle, it’s unfortunate that Congress must be pressured to do this. One would wish that they would fulfill their oath to defend the Constitution on their own.
But from another angle, this is the best way for the impeachment process to unfold. A mass movement by which the people demand that Congress impeach these lawless rulers not only pushes the Democratic majority in Congress, it also provides them political safety.
The Democrats have been inhibited by the fear that any move to impeach these would-be tyrants would be interpreted – by the media and the public – as mere partisan politics – just a move to wrest power from their opponents.
But if enough people demand that Congress defend the Constitution by impeaching this lawless leadership, it will be clear that this is not a matter of power but a matter of answering the people’s impassioned call to fulfill their oath of office. What could be more defensible than that?
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What protects the proponents of impeachment also undercuts those who would defend this lawless regime. In America, the will of the people is difficult to argue with. This is our country, and whereas the American people may not be qualified to make strategic policy we are fully entitled to demand that our birthright of a constitutional democracy be protected. “You took an oath, now fulfill it. Impeach those who are stealing OUR country!”
Already, according to the polls, about half the American people favor the impeachment of Bush and of Cheney. Such public sentiment is unprecedented in American history, and such numbers demonstrate the potential for an unprecedentedly massive social movement. If we can combine a clear and powerful message with putting our movement in its millions into the streets, the force on Congress would be irresistible.
That’s our job now: to organize to accomplish it.
HOW TO ORGANIZE
I do not claim to know how this movement should organize itself, but I do have some thoughts.
One thought is that this movement should develop itself into a coherent force as quickly as possible. The Bushites have thrown down the gauntlet, and it is good to rise while its latest usurpations – trying to render Congress irrelevant with its claims of executive privilege, trying to render the judiciary irrelevant with the commutation of Scooter Libby’s verdict, etc. – are still fresh in people’s minds. Also, of course, there remain only a year and a half in the administration’s term, time enough for them to continue to wreak havoc but not so much that we can dawdle on the process of reining in the lawlessness.
Another is that it should organize itself in a manner that optimizes the benefits of having both good top-down leadership and effective bottom-up grassroots participation.
Toward that end, I propose moving simultaneously toward three preliminary goals:
1) A leadership group should be formed. I propose that the people comprising this leadership group should meet the following main criteria: a) They should be effective and credible spokesmen for the idea that this impeachment is a vital necessity for the nation; b) They should have the knowledge of the American system, and the connections, to be effective in making that system work for the movement; c) They should be regarded as people of integrity by the American people; d) They should make it easier, or at least not harder, for Americans who are politically moderate or conservative to join and support the movement.
Among the people I propose for possible membership in this leadership group are these: Bill Moyers, Bruce Fein, Walter Cronkite, and Jimmy Carter. I also propose that these legally trained people who have been doing excellent work on these matters be included – either as members of the leadership group or in some other capacity: John Dean, Elizabeth de la Vega, and Glenn Greenwald.
2) The diverse organizations and individuals who have already been working for such purposes should be brought together behind this collective, coherent effort. We are not nearly so likely to win this battle as an uncoordinated collection of many diverse squads doing our own thing on the political landscape as with one cohesive movement with well-chosen spokespeople.
3) At the same time that this leadership group is being formed, and as the far-flung participants in the anti-Bushite movement are being brought together, I propose that a website be established – or, if a suitable one already exists, adopted – to provide a platform for this movement to assemble itself and to conduct its business.
On this website, the movement could post its major statements – e.g. pieces from the leadership and others, messages to Congress, a draft bill of impeachment, etc. – and it could also create discussion forums, conduct votes, plan events, and so forth.
In addition to having such capabilities, the website should be under auspices dedicated to the impeachment, and not otherwise associated with any other political causes. In order to be hospitable to Americans across the political spectrum, it should not bear the kind of partisan or ideological trappings that would repel people who agree about impeachment but disagree on other matters.
These several levels of the movement – the leadership group, the various already existing organizations and prominent voices, and the grassroots – should work together swiftly to create a good interface among them. The purpose of that interface would be both to allow the leadership to lead and coordinate and to allow the grassroots to have an effective voice to influence the leadership.
Other goals that I propose be pursued as soon as the leadership and the website are inaugurated:
1) Creating grassroots outreach programs – via email, door-to-door, etc. – to enlist as many Americans as possible to participate in the effort to demonstrate that impeachment is the will of the people. That half the people already favor impeachment suggests the possibility of creating a movement like nothing seen in America before.
2) Planning a day of massive demonstrations, to show how widespread is the popular demand for impeachment. Perhaps the main one of which should fill the Mall in Washington, D.C. with a magnitude and a passion comparable to the “I have a dream” demonstration of 1963. Getting our movement in its millions out into the streets should be accomplished as soon as is feasible.
By such means, the movement should be able to compel the kind of headlines that will convince Congress both that it is politically safe to impeach the Bushites AND that it is politically unsafe NOT to do so.
WHY THIS MISSION IS THE RIGHT ONE
Pressing Congress toward impeachment is the right mission for our movement not only because it is timely but also for these other reasons:
1) This is the most fundamental. There’s a reason that the defense of the Constitution is what our office-holders are required to take an oath to do. Maintaining our democracy is more urgent and basic than any of the other particular issues raised by this destructive regime, including even the war.
2) This is key. Holding these law-breakers accountable for their high crimes is also the best next step for addressing all the other issues of major concern, including the war.
3) This is simple. “Impeach them now! Defend the Constitution” is a straight-foward stance — free of great policy complications that require examining a wide range of positions – and is therefore ideally suited to the strengths of a social movement.
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