So, even former Senator John Edwards
is talking around the "I" word: impeachment. Did I say that I'm angry about this yet? There is a reason why I care to remind people that we have a long way to go -- even within The Democratic Party. When you take your eye off the ball, it's likely to roll away, and this is as true for holding our President and Vice President of The United States accountable as it is for our own credit reports.
Now, you could say: "Well, at least he'd vote for censure." The trouble with this notion is that it suggests we'd be okay, as a nation, with settling for a slap on the wrist when what Bush's administration has done has lead to countless, needless death and murder, not to mention the loss of several of our civil rights as laid out under The Bill of Rights
I'm glad to see that the dire need for civics classes are back in the national debate (thanks for the air-time, Randi
), but I'm now going to take this one step further: we need to teach Thomas Paine
in classrooms across this country. I'll be the first to admit that it took me ten years after my high school graduation to finally read Common Sense
. [NOTE: Barnes & Noble
carries a very thorough store-published volume of Paine's works for the money.] However, the more I delved into Paine's writings, the more pissed off I became. Here is the man, love him or not, who finally lit a big enough fire under the seats of enough of our colonists that they finally realized they had to break away from Great Britain, and we never
read Common Sense
in high school. What a shame! In Common Sense
Paine delivers many passages that made me realize just how "kingly" our present day President is. Now, I knew that what he was doing was morally and legally offensive, but the detail
into which Paine describes The Colonies' relations with King George, III, are astonishingly similar. The last time America took on a task as closely as the Iraq conflict with Great Britain was prior to our Revolution. [NOTE: Mr. Blair, did you really need
to partner up with our George on Iraq? Where's your history book?] Hence, the following from Part III of Common Sense
"I have heard it asserted by some, that as America hath flourished under her former connection with Great Britain that the same connection is necessary towards her future happiness, and will always have the same effect. Nothing can be more fallacious than this kind of argument. We may as well assert that because a child has thrived upon milk that it is never to have meat, or that the first twenty years of our lives is to become a precedent for the next twenty. But even this is admitting more than is true, for I answer roundly, that America would have flourished as much, and probably much more, had no European power had any thing to do with her. The commerce, by which she hath enriched herself, are the necessaries of life, and will always have a market while eating is the custom of Europe.
"But she has protected us, say some. That she has engrossed us is true, and defended the continent at our expense as well as her own is admitted, and she would have defended Turkey from the same motive, viz. the sake of trade and dominion.
"Alas, we have been long led away by ancient prejudices, and made large sacrifices to superstition. We have boasted the protection of Great Britain, without considering, that her motive was INTEREST not ATTACHMENT; that she did not protect us from OUR ENEMIES on OUR ACCOUNT, but from HER ENEMIES on HER OWN ACCOUNT, from those who had no quarrel with us on any OTHER ACCOUNT, and who will always be our enemies on the SAME ACCOUNT. Let Britain wave her pretensions to the continent, or the continent throw off the dependence, and we should be at peace with France and Spain were they at war with Britain. The miseries of Hanover last war ought to warn us against connections.
"It has lately been asserted in parliament, that the colonies have no relation to each other but through the parent country, i. e. that Pennsylvania and the Jerseys, and so on for the rest, are sister colonies by the way of England; this is certainly a very round-about way of proving relationship, but it is the nearest and only true way of proving enemyship, if I may so call it. France and Spain never were. nor perhaps ever will be our enemies as AMERICANS, but as our being the subjects of GREAT BRITAIN.
"But Britain is the parent country, say some. Then the more shame upon her conduct. Even brutes do not devour their young, nor savages make war upon their families; wherefore the assertion, if true, turns to her reproach; but it happens not to be true, or only partly so and the phrase PARENT or MOTHER COUNTRY hath been jesuitically adopted by the king and his parasites, with a low papistical design of gaining an unfair bias on the credulous weakness of our minds. Europe, and not England, is the parent country of America. This new world hath been the asylum for the persecuted lovers of civil and religious liberty from EVERY PART of Europe. Hither have they fled, not from the tender embraces of the mother, but from the cruelty of the monster; and it is so far true of England, that the same tyranny which drove the first emigrants from home, pursues their descendants still."
It ought to have been a HUGE signal to Prime Minister Blair that he was heading down a bad road if he chose to follow President Bush for no other reason than the fact that occupying Iraq turned out so poorly the first time. However, apparently no one in his Cabinet thought to look at their own HISTORY
. Can you imagine? Thomas Paine must surely be rolling over in his grave, which happens to be back in England (he was buried on his farm in New Rochelle, New York, for only ten years before an admirer from England took him home to his country of birth).
Paine went on to write what became at least a good portion of the backbone of our current system of government. He discussed the idea of a constitution at length. Surely, enough time has passed since The French Revolution that we can give this man's ideas a second look. Here is Paine on the distinctions between "Society" and "Government," (Part I):
"Some writers have so confounded society with government, as to leave little or no distinction between them; whereas they are not only different, but have different origins. Society is produced by our wants, and government by our wickedness; the former promotes our POSITIVELY by uniting our affections, the latter NEGATIVELY by restraining our vices. The one encourages intercourse, the other creates distinctions. The first a patron, the last a punisher.
"Society in every state is a blessing, but government even in its best state is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one; for when we suffer, or are exposed to the same miseries BY A GOVERNMENT, which we might expect in a country WITHOUT GOVERNMENT, our calamity is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer. Government, like dress, is the badge of lost innocence; the palaces of kings are built on the ruins of the bowers of paradise. For were the impulses of conscience clear, uniform, and irresistibly obeyed, man would need no other lawgiver; but that not being the case, he finds it necessary to surrender up a part of his property to furnish means for the protection of the rest; and this he is induced to do by the same prudence which in every other case advises him out of two evils to choose the least. WHEREFORE, security being the true design and end of government, it unanswerably follows, that whatever FORM thereof appears most likely to ensure it to us, with the least expense and greatest benefit, is preferable to all others.
"In order to gain a clear and just idea of the design and end of government, let us suppose a small number of persons settled in some sequestered part of the earth, unconnected with the rest, they will then represent the first peopling of any country, or of the world. In this state of natural liberty, society will be their first thought. A thousand motives will excite them thereto, the strength of one man is so unequal to his wants, and his mind so unfitted for perpetual solitude, that he is soon obliged to seek assistance and relief of another, who in his turn requires the same. Four or five united would be able to raise a tolerable dwelling in the midst of a wilderness, but one man might labour out of the common period of life without accomplishing any thing; when he had felled his timber he could not remove it, nor erect it after it was removed; hunger in the mean time would urge him from his work, and every different want call him a different way. Disease, nay even misfortune would be death, for though neither might be mortal, yet either would disable him from living, and reduce him to a state in which he might rather be said to perish than to die.
"Thus necessity, like a gravitating power, would soon form our newly arrived emigrants into society, the reciprocal blessings of which, would supersede, and render the obligations of law and government unnecessary while they remained perfectly just to each other; but as nothing but heaven is impregnable to vice, it will unavoidably happen, that in proportion as they surmount the first difficulties of emigration, which bound them together in a common cause, they will begin to relax in their duty and attachment to each other; and this remissness will point out the necessity of establishing some form of government to supply the defect of moral virtue.
"Some convenient tree will afford them a State-House, under the branches of which, the whole colony may assemble to deliberate on public matters. It is more than probable that their first laws will have the title only of REGULATIONS, and be enforced by no other penalty than public disesteem. In this first parliament every man, by natural right, will have a seat.
"But as the colony increases, the public concerns will increase likewise, and the distance at which the members may be separated, will render it too inconvenient for all of them to meet on every occasion as at first, when their number was small, their habitations near, and the public concerns few and trifling. This will point out the convenience of their consenting to leave the legislative part to be managed by a select number chosen from the whole body, who are supposed to have the same concerns at stake which those who appointed them, and who will act in the same manner as the whole body would act, were they present. If the colony continues increasing, it will become necessary to augment the number of the representatives, and that the interest of every part of the colony may be attended to, it will be found best to divide the whole into convenient parts, each part sending its proper number; and that the ELECTED might never form to themselves an interest separate from the ELECTORS, prudence will point out the propriety of having elections often; because as the ELECTED might by that means return and mix again with the general body of the ELECTORS in a few months, their fidelity to the public will be secured by the prudent reflection of not making a rod for themselves. And as this frequent interchange will establish a common interest with every part of the community, they will mutually and naturally support each other, and on this (not on the unmeaning name of king) depends the STRENGTH OF GOVERNMENT, AND THE HAPPINESS OF THE GOVERNED.
"Here then is the origin and rise of government; namely, a mode rendered necessary by the inability of moral virtue to govern the world; here too is the design and end of government, viz. freedom and security. And however our eyes may be dazzled with show, or our ears deceived by sound; however prejudice may warp our wills, or interest darken our understanding, the simple voice of nature and of reason will say, it is right."
"...as this frequent interchange will establish a common interest with every part of the community, they will mutually and naturally support each other, and on this (not on the unmeaning name of king) depends the STRENGTH OF GOVERNMENT, AND THE HAPPINESS OF THE GOVERNED." What a statement! This, alone, is the whole reason for impeachment. Yes, it can get ugly. Yes, it can be mean. But when done for the right reasons, impeachment can save us from immoral disasters of revolutionary proportions, the likes of which have started to happen in 2006
The question is all, then, that remains: Do we really want to avoid impeaching Bush and Cheney?
My answer: Not if our nation's future depends upon it.
It's time to keep our eyes on the ball, Friends. Last time, Nixon was pardoned. Now, we have Bush. This time, we avoid impeachment. Next time?