By Ruth Conniff
Last Saturday, I went to a town hall meeting on the Iraq War and impeachment in Madison, Wisconsin. This one was sponsored by Veterans for Peace. More than 150 other events around the country on January 7 were co-sponsored by Progressive Democrats of America and afterdowningstreet.org.
In Madison, about 350 people crammed into the Labor Temple to show their enthusiastic support for bringing the troops home. But what really got the crowd going was the drive for impeachment.
The event opened with longtime peace activist Robert Kimbrough asking people to speak up so we all could hear them. But not for the sake of the NSA or the CIA or the FBI or the Pentagon, he said, adding that they all have recording devices that will pick everything up anyway.
Someone shouted behind me, “Bring it on!”
Ed Garvey, a great Wisconsin progressive, addressed the dismissive attitude that prevails in Washington and among the cynics: that impeachment is impossible, and that we’re just wasting our time talking about.
The same was said about the women’s suffrage movement and about the civil rights movement, he observed, adding that when he’s done he’d like to echo Rosa Parks, who said, after the bus boycott, “My feet may be tired but my soul’s at rest.”
I’m telling you, my friends, there’s something going on at the grassroots that the mainstream media isn’t getting.
And that’s this urgent desire by millions of Americans to defenestrate Bush from power and reclaim our democracy.
There were other overflow crowds in Sacramento, Chicago, and Livonia, Michigan, according to an inspiring report on afterdowningstreet.org.
The move in Congress, headed by John Conyers, is also picking up co-sponsors here and there.
“A total of eight U.S. House members have co-sponsored Resolution 635 to create a select committee to investigate the grounds for impeaching President Bush,” according to Atlanta Progressive News. “The co-sponsors are Rep. Lois Capps (D-CA), Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX), Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Rep. Donald Payne (D-NJ), Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY), Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), and Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA).”
Senator Russ Feingold said on January 8 that he, too, would consider impeachment.
“I think there is an orderly and dignified way to find out what happened,” he said. “And if there was a legal violation there needs to be accountability,” he said, according to a report in the Vermont Guardian. “You can’t put the cart before the horse, but I would not rule out any form of accountability.”
The Vermont Guardian said Feingold added that this would include impeachment. Feingold said that Bush “probably broke the law” when he authorized the NSA to spy in the United States without warrants.
Former Representative Elizabeth Holtzman, who was on the House Judiciary Committee that impeached Richard Nixon, has come out for impeachment of Bush in The Nation. “A President, any President, who maintains that he is above the law—and repeatedly violates the law—thereby commits high crimes and misdemeanors, the constitutional standard for impeachment and removal of office.”
The fuel for impeachment lies at the grassroots. That is where the organizing must happen. The city council of Arcata, California, is leading the way, adopting on January 4 a resolution demanding the impeachment of Bush and Cheney.
Other towns and cities will surely follow, and not just in progressive strongholds like Arcata.
Americans of almost every stripe don’t want a President wiretapping their phones or snooping on their e-mails without warrants.
Americans of almost every stripe don’t want a President who puts a crown on his head.
Time for us to tire out our feet, and save the soul of this country.