Once a Republican
In view of the many impeachable offenses that have come to light since Bush has taken office, it is imperative, says Fein, to remove him and Cheney from their posts immediately
Harding presided over, next to George W. Bush, one of the most unseemly presidencies ever to wield the powers and privileges of our nation’s highest office
Statesmanship, not partisan politics, demands impeachment
By Stacey Warde
I grew up politically naïve, sheltered by the suburban comforts of Republican Orange County.
We seldom discussed politics at home. When we did, it was to debase liberals.
A kind of shadow lingered over these conversations, rare as they were.
My grandmother had a cousin from Ohio, a Ruth Harding.
Turns out that Aunt Ruth was a distant relative of Warren G. Harding, 29th president of the United States, a Republican and influential newspaper publisher, also from Ohio.
Harding presided over, next to George W. Bush, one of the most unseemly presidencies ever to wield the powers and privileges of our nation’s highest office.
While we held a quiet regard for the family connection to a once-powerful figure, and didn’t much talk about it, Harding’s Ohio conservatism still held sway in my family some 60 years later.
In 1980, my mother, father and brother and I all hopped into the family car to head for the polls. I was 22 and my brother was 20. We were proud to join our parents in the voting ritual, and we couldn’t be prouder than to cast our vote for a candidate as conservative and solid as Ronald Reagan.
Incumbent Jimmy Carter was weak. I had served with the Army’s 2nd Ranger Battalion, an airborne-air mobile lightning strike force, during his tenure as president and observed the deleterious effect of his government’s oversight of the military.
We had been grounded for months at a time because funding wasn’t available to fuel the aircraft that were essential to the Ranger mission. Carter had to go. The U.S., I reasoned as a good Republican, needed a strong military.
The election was a Reagan landslide, and the last time I ever voted Republican. Something about Reagan and the emerging triumphalism of the Republican Party turned my stomach worse than the presidential weaknesses of Jimmy Carter.
It was also the birthing of the more insidious Religious Right, fronted by the late Jerry Falwell. Red lights started flashing, and I knew something had gone horribly wrong with the Grand Old Party.
I respect my Republican roots, and understand the way Republicans think.
While liberals claim that conservatives are heartless, I learned the opposite from witnessing Republicanism at its charitable best.
When Richard Nixon had been shamed out of office on Aug. 9, 1974, another of my grandmother’s cousins sent the hapless former president a sack lunch so he wouldn’t starve during his unemployment.
And while the rest of my family may not have approved of Nixon’s criminal conduct, we still valued his genius for foreign policy and making it possible for the West to have relations with China.
He wasn’t such a bad guy, we reasoned, defending one of our own, an Orange County native who grew up in nearby Yorba Linda. The liberals were making a bigger deal out of his moral lapses simply because they hated us Republicans.
I don’t hate Republicans; everyone in my family belongs to the GOP, except me. They’re smart people with a history rooted in the Republican values of fiscal responsibility, pragmatism, constitutional government and strong leadership.
As with any political grouping, however, there’s one or two in my family who can’t see past their own partisan blinders, who won’t stand to reason and refuse to acknowledge the obvious: That George W. Bush and Dick Cheney have committed numerous impeachable offenses, more serious than any Nixon committed, and should therefore answer to the American people for their high crimes and misdemeanors.
Not long after George W. Bush was sworn into office, following the contentious and scandal-ridden 2000 presidential election, I heard my mother bad-mouthing the new president.
“Well, what did you expect? You voted for him,” I responded.
“No, I didn’t,” she countered.
“What!” I couldn’t believe my ears. “You’re telling me you voted for Al Gore?”
“He was more qualified to be president,” my Republican mother answered matter-of-factly.
A new appreciation for my Republican roots settled on me. My parents, politically conservative in every way, could see that Bush was unqualified and unfit for the office. And so it has been from the beginning of his tenure.
Unlike many Republicans voting in that election, my parents had the intellectual wherewithal to withhold their Republican vote in the interests of what was best for our country, by installing the person most qualified for the job. That pragmatism, another Republican virtue, kept their vision keen and alert.
And now, Republicans with their vision still intact have begun calling for impeachment proceedings against Bush and Cheney.
Bruce Fein, a constitutional lawyer who served as an associate deputy attorney general under President Reagan, asserts that the Bush administration has dangerously and illegally overreached its power, threatening our civil liberties, our republic, and its democratic institutions with their checks and balances against monarchy and totalitarianism.
Fein, who wrote the first articles of impeachment against Bill Clinton, claims that the Bush administration’s crimes “are more worrisome than Clinton’s” because they threaten the very core of our democratic government.
The Bush administration, he notes, has repeatedly and brazenly claimed powers that do not belong to the office, demonstrating its utter contempt for the U.S. Constitution, which provides for the checks and balances necessary to keep each branch of our government, especially the executive, from wielding too much power.
In view of the many impeachable offenses that have come to light since Bush has taken office, it is imperative, says Fein, to remove him and Cheney from their posts immediately.
The republic is in grave danger if we fail to do this. Allowing Bush and Cheney to leave office unscathed, with the damage they’ve done, will set a precedent for subsequent presidents to hold themselves above the law and beyond the scrutiny of Congress and the people, setting the pattern for dictatorial rule.
This issue of impeachment is a matter of statesmanship, adds Fein, not partisan politics. “They are asserting theories of government that are monarchical,” Fein claims of Bush and Cheney, which ought to be of concern to both liberals and conservatives.
Imagine, he says, the alarm Republicans would feel if a Democrat in the Oval Office asserted the same powers, holding themselves above the law, as Bush and Cheney have.
“The Constitution is more important than the aggrandizement of your power,” Fein says. And that ought to be the primary concern of both Republicans and Democrats when they take up impeachment proceedings against Bush and Cheney.
It’s our duty as citizens, says Fein, to defend the Constitution, to keep our democracy from tanking, to grow up politically and take full responsibility for the republic we inherited from our Founding Mothers and Fathers. It’s our duty to keep the legislative, judicial and executive branches checked and in balance, and, regardless of our political affiliation, to impeach Bush and Cheney. §
Stacey Warde is editor of The Rogue Voice. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.