Saturday, June 02, 2007

Repudiate Now.

Scott Ritter:
"Impeachment is the constitutional remedy for a unilateral president whose governance is an insult to traditional American democratic norms and values. However, impeachment alone is simply a measure which addresses the symptoms of a larger malaise that has stricken America. The arrogance associated with the concept of the unitary executive is prevalent throughout mainstream American political life. The passivity of the legislative branch is one byproduct of the dominance of the unitary executive. It is also an indicator that the will of the people, as expressed through their election of the people's representatives to the Congress of the United States, no longer has the weight and bearing long associated with the American democratic experience.

Any effort to impeach Bush and any of his administration found to be engaged in activities classifiable as "high crimes and misdemeanors" would fail to rein in the unitary executive core of any successor. One only has to listen to the rhetoric of the Democratic candidates for president to understand that this trend is as deeply rooted among them as it is with President Bush. Americans today look for leaders without recognizing the absolute necessity of electing team players. The Founding Fathers deliberately designed the executive branch to be strong and independent, but also made sure, through an elaborate system of checks and balances, that it operated merely as one of three separate but equal branches of government.

The "in your face" efforts of the Bush administration to minimize the role of Congress and to achieve political control of the judiciary are simply more public manifestations of trends that occurred in a more quiet fashion in past administrations, Republican and Democratic alike. When America elects a leader who states clearly that he or she will work with their equal partners in governance, the Congress, for the good of the country, and who will acknowledge the supremacy of law set forth in the form of binding legislation passed by the will of Congress void of any limiting or contradicting "presidential signing statement," then we will finally have a leader who is truly worthy of the title "President of the United States of America."

But this will not happen of its own volition. The impeachment of President Bush would not in and of itself terminate executive unilateralism. It would only limit its implementation on the most visible periphery, driving its destructive designs back into the shadows of government, away from the public eye, and as such, public accountability. Impeach President Bush, yes, if in fact he can be charged with the commission of acts which meet the constitutional standard for impeachment (and I believe he could, if Congress only had the will to do its job). But to truly heal America, we must repudiate everything President Bush stands for, in terms of not only public and foreign policy, but also in terms of his style of governance, since the former is derived from the latter.

Repudiation is a strong term, defined as "rejecting as having no authority or binding force," to "cast off or disown," or to "reject with disapproval or condemnation." In my opinion, the complete repudiation of the presidency of George W. Bush is the only recourse we have collectively as a people to not only seek redress for the wrongs committed by the Bush administration, but also to purge society of this cancer that threatens to consume and destroy us as a whole, and which would continue to manifest itself in our system of governance even after any impeachment proceedings.

Like any cancerous growth, the Bush administration has attached its malignancy to the American nation in a cruel fashion, its poisonous tentacles stretching deep into our national fabric in a manner that makes difficult the task of culling out the healthy from the diseased. But we cannot truly repudiate something without its complete and utter elimination from our midst. As such, there must be a litmus test to help us differentiate the good from the bad, that which must be restored from that which must be eliminated. For me, there is only one true test: that of constitutionality. There will be those who argue, and have argued, that the time is well past for an oppressed people (and one would be a fool not to comprehend that under the Bush administration, the American people have in fact been oppressed) to rely on the niceties of legal argument, especially when the system of law we seek to use in our defense has been so thoroughly corrupted by those who seek to impose tyranny.
Short of a complete and total abdication on the part of the Congress, the collapse of the judiciary system, and a shocking decision by those men and women who wear the uniform of the armed forces of the United States to lend force of arms to the will of a dictatorial president, I cannot ever envision a time in which conditions in these United States could deteriorate to the point that a violent revolution "of the people and by the people" would be required to restore constitutional legitimacy and authority. Having said that, I remind the reader that with so few Americans professing any working understanding of the Constitution, it is difficult to speak of people defending that which they remain ignorant of.

While I reject violence as a means of redressing social wrongs, especially when applied to issues of governance, and instead rely on the rule of law as manifested by the Constitution and those legitimate bodies empowered by the Constitution to remedy every situation, I cannot help but fear the moment when the foundation of legitimacy which defines who we are and what we are as a nation fades away into irrelevance amidst a sea of complacency and ignorance. There is no greater breeding ground for the forces of tyranny than the surrender of civic responsibility on the part of those entrusted with the defense of liberty. And in this I do not mean the Congress of the United States, but rather the people of the United States, the duly elected representatives of whom constitute the Congress.

I fear not the bloody rebellion of an outraged citizenry, but rather the passive submission of a shameful mass which betrays the cause of liberty and freedom through the abandonment of the Constitution, and the obligations of citizenship derived thereof, in favor of the narcotic of consumerism. Such a mass, foreswearing blind obedience to those who profess how to best construct a cocoon that immerses the occupant in transitory comfort, is the most pressing problem facing America today. In a nation whose defining document begins, "We the People," I find that it is we the people who constitute the greatest threat to the future of America. It is not through the force of our actions, but rather the vacuum created by our inaction and apathy, a vacuum all too readily filled by those who would have us exchange our hard-fought freedoms for a gilded cage of market-driven consumerism.

This is the main reason why I am not a proponent of the 'impeach now' mentality so prevalent in political circles that oppose George W. Bush. The expediency of impeachment simply replaces one source of tyranny (President Bush) with another (whomever replaces him). It is not the failures of an individual that have gotten us to where we are today, but rather the failure of the collective. So before we speak of impeachment and the notion of executive accountability, I would like to address the issue of repudiation and the necessity of civic responsibility.
Today one only needs to observe the corruption of our rulers and the carelessness of our people to understand the significance of the Constitution when it comes to preserving these United States of America. The nefarious nature of the Bush cancer is that, in its infection of the American system, it seeks to draw legitimacy for its tyrannical actions by citing the very same Constitution it seeks to destroy. The promoters of this point of view cite the academic term "Unitary Executive Theory" when defining their philosophy. To me, it is nothing less than treason. The Founding Fathers, in discussing the concept of a "unitary executive," made use of the term in a manner reflective of their desire to restrain executive power, versus the extreme interpretation embraced by counsels to President Bush and Vice President Cheney who seek to expand executive power and authority to near dictatorial levels, especially during a time of war. The tendency on the part of President Bush to obviate the role of Congress is well documented, in matters pertaining to governance in times of peace as well as war. The unprecedented number of presidential signing statements issued by Bush speaks volumes to this trend. These signing statements, historically a device used by executives to protect presidential prerogative when it comes to how a bill might be interpreted in a court of law, have been used by the Bush administration to negate the legal impact of a given piece of legislation by clearly stating the intent of the president to act in a manner inconsistent with the letter of the law. That the president believes he has a right to conduct himself in this manner is the height of hubris; that Congress continues to facilitate this behavior unchallenged represents the depth of legislative depravity.
Those who espouse the nobility of patriotism by extolling Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution, which addresses the issue of impeachment of the president and vice president, are all too mute about the remainder of that great document. Whether this silence is derived from negligence or ignorance, or a combination thereof, is not the point. What lies at the heart of this issue is that void of a solid foundation of "creed," as Thomas Jefferson put it, to fall back on in times of constitutional crisis derived from the abuse of power and authority. The American people have only a bottomless pit as their support, and this is no support at all. Impeach President Bush? Maybe, if due process dictates. Repudiate President Bush? Absolutely, especially if one aspires for an America that truly matches the visions and ideals set forth by the Founding Fathers.

Repudiate the notion of a "unitary executive."

Repudiate presidential signing statements.

Repudiate executive violation of Article 6 of the Constitution, which binds municipal law in America with binding treaty obligations incurred when the Senate ratifies a treaty or agreement by a two-thirds majority or better.

Repudiate "faith-based initiatives" pushed by any branch of government.

Repudiate a weak Congress.

Repudiate weak senators or representatives, especially those with a track record of abrogating their constitutional mandate.

Repudiate ignorance, especially that of the American citizen who knows little or nothing about the Constitution which empowers him or her.

Repudiate consumerism, especially the virulent form it takes in the selfish framework of American-centric capitalism.

Repudiate pre-emptive wars of aggression.

Repudiate American Empire.

Instead, embrace the empowerment of education. Embrace active citizenship. Embrace the rule of law, as set forth by the Constitution. Do all of this and, in the end, if conditions and circumstance warrant, impeach President Bush and any of those in his administration so deserving."


profmarcus said...

thanks for this... it's very good... and while i certainly don't disagree with ritter on anything he has to say, i'd like to know what the hell "repudiation" looks like and how it would be binding on anybody... saying "i repudiate" while all the measures that bushco has put in place (signing statements, executive orders, secret detention, warrantless domestic wiretapping, etc., etc.) are still alive and kicking, would only be a gesture of good faith but would carry no mandate or consequences if not followed... real "repudiation", imho, MUST be accompanied by an offical striking of the suspect signing statements, passing of legislation forbidding certain types of actions, other legislation repealing the frankenstein laws passed under bushco, and, most importantly, the application of real consequences, consequences with teeth, to the perpetrators of war crimes and constitutional breaches... repudiation in and of itself, while i certainly would like to hear it, particularly since it's something we're NOT hearing much of from anybody at the moment, is great, but unless that repudiation is built into the structure itself, backed up with the force of law and with serious consequences for failure to abide, it is only empty verbiage...

lukery said...

Prof - you're exactly right.

It needs to be a total repudiation, from top-to-bottom, including an apology, revocation of all the laws and every other damn thing.