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Is Impeachment an Election Issue?
"What’s more moderate than exploring the truth? Is there really partisanship in truth?…We don’t need to be afraid to use the word impeachment. It is the process that was set up. It’s not a bad word. It stands for accountability. It is the system of justice in our political systemThere’s nothing radical in that."
While no congressional incumbent has yet introduced articles of impeachment or a resolution of inquiry into grounds for impeachment of Bush and Cheney, numerous 2006 candidates are committed to doing so. I know because they’re contacting ImpeachPAC, a political action committee I work for which was recently created to support pro-impeachment candidates.
Today ImpeachPAC announced its first endorsement, that of Tony Trupiano, Democratic candidate for Congress in Michigan’s 11th District. Tony has already been endorsed by Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) and by the Michigan Teamsters Union Joint Council 43. He’ll be challenging Republican incumbent Thaddeus McCotter, a pro-Bush, pro-war, pro-wealth Republican who seems to spend much of his time on such substantive matters as "defending the Pledge of Allegiance."
Tony Trupiano has had a national radio audience for over a decade as host of the Tony Trupiano Show, through which he has developed a powerful voice on behalf of working people. It’s no surprise that unions have begun endorsing him a year before the election.
Tony held a "Take Back the House" rally last Monday. It was the first event of his campaign, and "the best part," he said when I spoke to him on Saturday, "was the Q & A." One of the questions that someone asked Tony was what three pieces of legislation would be the first he would introduce.
The first that Tony named was a bill to restore value to the federal minimum wage. He never got to the third, because the second issue he named received such a huge response that the conversation took a new turn. That second issue was impeachment.
"The crowd went crazy," Tony said, "I mean the crowd absolutely went nuts. Some people who are consulting for the campaign said they cringed when I said impeachment, but when they saw how the crowd reacted they breathed easier. You know, we shouldn’t be afraid of impeachment. Impeachment is there for a reason. If the President has not lied to us, if he is innocent of all of these charges, give us a chance to investigate. Impeachment is a non-partisan idea. It is the way to hold the government accountable."
Of the current Congress, Trupiano said, "They have blindly let this man lead, and he has led us into disaster. It is time we had the truth!"
I told Tony that his words were music to my ears. But, I said, I’d spoken to some Democratic candidates who said they could not support impeachment because they need to appeal to moderates. Before I could suggest my own rather lame response to that position, Tony spoke up with a better one.
"Let me address that," he said. "What is more moderate than exploring the truth? Is there really partisanship in truth? Common-sense, middle-of-the-road people are not ambivalent. That candidates would say that is an insult to their constituents. We’re not after the President, we’re after the truth."
"What Bill Clinton did was dead wrong," Tony continued. "Should he have been impeached? We can debate that up and down, but it’s already happened. But, you know, it did not result in thousands killed and billions of dollars wasted, and for what? That does not make what Bill Clinton did right, but this administration has been given pass after pass. Shame on Democratic candidates for assuming their constituents wouldn’t want the truth. Shame on them for saying they won’t demand the truth because it will make people uncomfortable. What kind of leadership is that? If I don’t get elected because I demand the truth and demand to save lives and tax dollars, then don’t elect me. I’m ready to take that hit."
Asked if he thinks he will win, Tony says, "Absolutely, I believe I will win. I may not win by a landslide, but I will win this district. I will bring a common sense voice back to Congress. And I don’t plan to represent just this district, but to represent all the people of this country."
The endorsement by PDA is "huge," Trupiano said. "Tim Carpenter, the executive director of PDA, is one of the most passionate Democrats I know, a smart guy who cares about so many issues. PDA is unashamed to do what they want. Why should we be afraid to be who we are?" The Teamsters, too, Trupiano said, "are unafraid. Their endorsement is an affirmation of the work I’ve done in the first 44 years of my life."
Tony is leaving his radio show in order to campaign fulltime. "When the incumbent is financed by Tom Delay and the Republican Party and doesn’t need individual donors," he said, "I need to do what I’m doing, building an infrastructure and raising the money needed to win. I will be making him wear every mistake he’s made and showing that he offers no leadership. I will be showing people what real leadership is."
Trupiano expects to win the backing of independents and Republicans as well as Democrats. Moderates are angry, he says, and some of the angriest voters are Republican.
"When you help pick the winner and he disappoints, it’s very upsetting. How would you like to be a Republican who voted for this guy [Bush] and have to wear that now? That’s not easy stuff. That’s like when a parent or a spouse disappoints you. You feel like you’re stuck.
"But real conservatives are abandoning this guy. The best estimates say that 37% is the number for George Bush’s base. At a 34 percent approval rating, there’s cannibalism, they’re leaderless, there’s no rudder. You’ve heard that he is not on good terms with the Vice President, that he’s only talking to a handful of people. This administration is imploding. Mark my word, the people in the White House will not all be there in 2008. Where does the Valerie Plame scandal lead? How long will it be before impeachment is something the media is forced to talk about? What about the Vice President’s secret energy meetings? All of a sudden everybody’s waking up and realizing there’s truth to what the Democrats have been saying for a while.
"We don’t need to be afraid to use the word impeachment. It is the process that was set up. It’s not a bad word. It stands for accountability. It is the system of justice in our political system. Hey, maybe the guy’s innocent just give us a chance to find out. There’s nothing radical in that. That’s not a left leaning thing.
"I have a public record that I can’t walk away from. For 11 years I’ve been on the radio demanding truth. I can’t become a candidate and walk away from the foundation of what I’ve done. All I’m saying is don’t deny us due process. Stop insulting the American mentality. We just want the truth. Don’t you think we deserve the truth? I’m tired of losing. I’m tired of losing as a Democrat. I’m tired of losing as the middle class. I’m tired of losing lives in a part of the world we have no business being in. I’m going to do whatever it takes to win this damn thing."