The Delinquent Congress

The Democrats should bring this resolution to a vote, and dare the Republicans to vote against it. The GOP would doubtless resist by calling it a “meaningless political stunt,” and would struggle to prevent an open vote. But if it were to be brought to a vote, who would dare go on record with a denial that the Constitution is the supreme law of the land?

And if such a resolution were to pass both houses of Congress, it should be immediately followed by other resolutions specifying the implications of that first resolution. Namely,

  • It is affirmed that all US citizens and other individuals under US jurisdiction enjoy the protection of Habeas Corpus, as specified in Article 1, Section 9 of the Constitution.
  • Therefore, all persons in custody at Guantánamo and other prisons must either be charged with a crime and given a fair trial, or released. Following that, the Guantánamo facility must be closed and all "renditions" of prisoners to other countries cease.
  • All torture of so-called “enemy combatants” must cease immediately.
  • All provisions of the Patriot Act and the Military Provisions Act in violation of the protections of the Constitution must be declared null and void.
  • Acts of Congress signed by the President have the status of law, and signing statements have no legal status whatever.

In addition, the Congress should act upon the following:

  • Cite Attorney General Gonzales for perjury, obstruction of justice and contempt of Congress. Then proceed with his impeachment.
  • End the funding of the Iraq occupation, except for the funds required for the prompt withdrawal of American troops from Iraq.
  • Proceed with investigations and then indictments for war profiteering, with special attention directed toward Halliburton and its ex-CEO, Dick Cheney.
  • At long last, investigate election fraud by e-voting machines, intimidation, and voter disenfranchisement (e.g., through “caging lists”).
  • Above all, issue bills of impeachment of Bush and Cheney, followed by investigations, hearings and open debate.

Impeachment is being resisted by “practical” Democratic politicians on the grounds that even if it succeeded in the House, conviction and removal from office would surely fail in the Senate.

I am not at all certain of this, in view of what might result from the House investigations and debate. But this objection misses the point. Ultimate conviction and removal may be less important than the impeachment process and the evidence and prosecution case that would result from it. Once the high crimes and misdemeanors of Bush and Cheney are brought to light, those who vote against impeachment in the House and conviction in Senate may pay a high price at the polls.

In the meantime, what is the progressive citizen and voter to do? Both parties have betrayed the trust of the American public and have violated their oaths to protect and defend the Constitution. Thus those of us who are justifiably disgusted with both parties, are faced with daunting dilemma:

One the one hand, should we punish the Democrats by voting for third parties? Such a decision serves to keep the Republicans in power which would keep the culprits forever unaccountable for their crimes.

On the other hand, should we vote for the Democrats, as the lesser of the evils? If so, the party might construe this as public approval of its delinquent behavior.

With much reluctance and regret, I would opt for the latter alternative, all the while putting a well-deserved scare into the ranks of the “establishment” Democrats.

Most immediately, all Democrats who voted for Bush’s Iraq resolution and otherwise collaborated with the outlaw regime should be challenged in the primaries. A few might lose their seats to such challenges, though most would not. But even if the challenges fall short, strong showings at the polls by the progressive challengers will send a message: we the people are here, we protest, and we demand to be heard.

If that protest fails to reform the Democrats, then perhaps it will be time to look to third parties. The Democrats must understand that this remains a live option.

Finally, progressives must take a lesson from the religious right and take over the Democratic Party from the bottom up. Get active in local and state party activities, send progressives to the state conventions and then to the national convention. Far better to take control of an existing major party organization than to attempt to build a national organization for a minor party.

The good news for the Democrats is that public approval of Bush is down to around thirty percent. The bad news is that the public approval of the Democratic Congress  is not much above that: thirty-seven percent, down from forty-four percent in April. And the worst news is that this poor and declining public opinion of the Democratic Congress is well-deserved.

There is no other way to put it: the Congressional Democratic leadership (with a few honorable exceptions) has failed the American public and has violated its oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

We must demand that they wake up and do their duty, assuring them that if they do, they will earn the respect and support of their constituents.


Copyright 2007, by Ernest Partridge

Ernest Partridge's Internet Publications

"Conscience of a Progressive:"  A book in progress. 

Dr. Ernest Partridge is a consultant, writer and lecturer in the field of Environmental Ethics and Public Policy. He has taught Philosophy at the University of California, and in Utah, Colorado and Wisconsin. He publishes the website, "The Online Gadfly" and co-edits the progressive website, "The Crisis Papers".

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