If you haven’t noticed, we’re having an historic battle in Congress over the future of our democracy.
So why aren’t we out in the streets like they are in Hong Kong?
In Hong Kong, an estimated million people yearning for democracy marched on Sunday to mark six months of protests. And it’s not just students. There were families in the streets. Parents brought their young kids.
They all held cell phones like torches for democratic freedoms.
That’s what an historic pro-democracy rally looks like in China. Hong Kongers want the real thing.
Frankly, here in the U.S., the paragon of modern democracy, we could use a shot of what they’re having.
They don’t have democracy and are ready to put it all on the line.
We have it all and are being pretty casual about what’s at stake.
What’s going on in Congress is historic. For only the fourth time in 243 years of our country’s existence, articles of impeachment are being drawn against a president.
The Democrats’ attorney, Daniel Goldman, said Trump was “a clear and present danger to fair elections and U.S. national security. The Republicans’ attorney, Steve Castor, called the impeachment “baloney.”
No matter what side you’re on, this is a big deal.
A president is being called out for being above the law, for abusing his power as if he can get away with anything, specifically leveraging aid Congress earmarked for Ukraine in exchange for political information that benefits him and him alone.
Given that, impeachment should be all we’re talking about, trying to understand what’s going on. It’s not something we should be trying to avoid.
But apathy is built into our system. When little more than a third of the people vote, should we expect more participation?
When people go out of their way to avoid jury duty, should we be surprised when most won’t bother to sit through hearings and find out what the Democrats or the Republicans are saying at this week’s all-important House Judiciary Committee hearing?
ARTICLES OF IMPEACHMENT
We do know that two articles of impeachment will be unveiled on Tuesday. House Democrats are ready to charge Trump for abuse of power in how he handled the Ukraine matter, putting personal political interests over national interests. A second charge would be for obstructing Congress by blocking its attempt to investigate.
After the Judiciary Committee meets this Thursday, it’s expected that articles of impeachment will be sent to the House to be debated, and finalized by the weekend before Christmas.
The House will impeach Trump, and then the trial will move on to the Senate in January, where Democrats likely will not have the votes to remove the president.
But the impeachment will be a permanent blemish. It’s not like bankrupting a casino that people forget about. There’s no positive way to color this. It sticks on your resume.
And let’s be clear. It wasn’t an office burglary. It wasn’t sex with an intern. It was using $391 million in congressionally-approved aid to Ukraine as a lever to get dirt on political rival Joe Biden.
Watching all the hearings, I’ve been stunned how little the GOP is doing to protect the president. It seems that blind loyalty, or just saying whatever the president says, is good enough. It’s “truth,” but only in the same way that Sunny Delight is orange juice. Still, these aren’t fact-optional hearings. But instead of a real clash on facts, Republicans have offered up red herrings, conspiracy theories, and tantrums.
For Asian American watchers, Rep. Ted Lieu (CA-D) stood up for us.
“Let’s just cut through all the Republican arguments, and make things very simple,” Lieu said. “No one else in America could do what Donald Trump did and get away with it. No American elected official could call up a foreign official and ask for an investigation of a political opponent. No one sitting on this judiciary committee could call up a foreign government official and ask for help in a re-election campaign. If we did that and got caught, we would likely be indicted.”
Lieu, a former Air Force colonel and a former prosecutor, made the case that Congress approved $391 million in U.S. taxpayer funds for Ukraine, and to use that to seek assistance for Trump’s re-election was illegal. Furthermore, to withhold the money without telling Congress was a violation of the Impoundment Control Act of 1974.
Withholding the money also harmed U.S. national security interests since Ukraine, an ally, was desperately in need of the money to ward off our common enemy, Russia. Lieu said harming Ukraine harms us, and as Professor Pamela Karlan said last week, harming our national security is an impeachable offense.
Lieu closed by mentioning a Navy commander who was convicted of putting himself above country.
“We should not hold the commander-in-chief to a lower standard, or any elected official,” Lieu said. “No one is above the law.”
THE FBI REPORT
The hearings weren’t the only development worth noting on Monday. The Justice Department’s inspector general report said while mistakes were made in the FBI’s handling of the Russia probe, there was no political bias. It debunked Trump’s claims that the probe was a witch hunt.
It didn’t take long for Attorney General Bill Barr to blast the report and defend his president.
But Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) said it was a dangerous thing to see Barr acting as the president’s personal attorney.
“We expect the attorney general to uphold the laws of our country and the Constitution,” Hirono said on CNN. “Instead, we have an attorney general whose first instinct is to protect the president. And that should concern all of us…It’s so scary.”
Hirono noted the president also responded to the report by misrepresenting it and deflecting any possible criticism of himself.
“What the president hopes is that by continuing to lie to the American people as he’s done since day one of his presidency, that the American public will be fooled,” said Hirono.
This is why there’s an urgency to remove now. Slow? Why? There’s so much that demands accountability. The articles of impeachment are ultra-focused on Ukraine. But every day, there’s a new development that says something’s embarrassingly wrong. Last week was NATO, cuts in food stamps, and deregulating the EPA because people are flushing too much. There are migrant kids separated from their families and dying at border facilities. Health care. Education.
Well, you don’t impeach over the policy disagreements.
But you do impeach over the big things, like withholding $391 million in aid until Ukraine provides Biden dirt.
See, it’s simple. It should make you all want to run out in the streets.
Impeachment? We’re in it now. Consider it America’s Pro-Democracy Movement.