Dear Mr. Conyers,
On May 29, 2007-as you already know-there will be a Town Hall discussion on the possible impeachment of George W. Bush, President of the United States. In your position as chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, it is imperative that you join this discussion, and thoroughly absorb the message of the speakers.
In recent days, the Detroit City Council passed a unanimous resolution calling for impeachment of both George Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. This resolution was passed within hours of its introduction, and it passed unanimously. These are your constituents, Mr. Conyers, and they are calling on you to act. May I remind you that you represent the people that passed and supported this resolution, not Nancy Pelosi, nor the rest of the congressional Democratic leadership. You owe your constituents a chance to be heard, and not just in your praises, but in the course of action they expect you to take as their true representative.
I went to a town hall meeting, attended by you, back in February that was to be centered on impeachment. I arrived with carefully written remarks about why it is your duty to impeachment George W. Bush. To my great disappointment, the meeting had nothing to do with impeachment. Instead, it turned into a rally with speaker after speaker bemoaning the Bush administration, while praising you and the Democratic presidential contenders. That is all you wanted to talk about that day. Not impeachment, which you dismissed as impractical, but the upcoming 2008 presidential race. Never mind that the next Democratic president will inherit the awesome powers usurped by Bush for the executive. I have to assume that that doesn’t matter to you as long as a Democrat holds those powers.
I fail to see how you can find solace in the prospect of a Democratic president when the last one has done so much damage to your constituency. NAFTA, and other such trade agreements cannot be good for the people of your district, as they drain manufacturing jobs. Welfare reform has certainly spread pain through your district, as well. The telecommunications act has left your constituents less informed and mislead by the mainstream media. In fact, much of the groundwork for the most egregious legislation championed by the current administration was laid by Clinton. Do you find comfort in the fact that legislation harmful to your constituents was signed into law by a Democratic president?
We cannot fix our current constitutional crisis by waiting for the next “good” president. In order for the executive branch to be checked by congress, congress needs to use all of the powers at its disposal. What precedent do we set by not moving to impeach? If this president does not deserve impeachment, no future president ever will. By failing to act, you and the rest of the Democratic leadership are giving a blank check to all future presidents to act as they will with little or no regard for the will of the people. Your inertia will condemn the American people to the fate of hoping for the next benevolent dictator.
It would seem that your most courageous acts have occurred only when you were in no danger of having to follow through with any concrete action. You held your famous “basement hearings” when the Democrats were in the minority. Also, while in the minority, your office compiled a major report outlining the constitutional offenses of the current administration. While in the minority, you were free to make the case for impeachment. Yet now-when you hold real power- you refrain from taking the trail that you have blazed. You lack the courage to follow through with your convictions, or the will of your constituents.
When you wrote the forward to your book, were you thinking of the day when you would be in a position to act on the information accumulated by your office. I find these words telling. You say “I believe it is vital that we document these allegations, learn from our mistakes, and consider laws and safeguards necessary to prevent their recurrence.” Were you preemptively letting yourself off the hook here, because surely you must know that we do have laws and safeguards necessary to prevent their recurrence. Those laws are written into the United States constitution, and the safeguard is called impeachment. We do not need to write new laws to enforce a constitution that already exists. We need law makers that understand that malfeasance in government needs to be addressed above all political considerations.
I sat in another meeting that you attended early in 2006. The theme of this meeting was that everything must be done to elect Democrats to office, regardless of their views on the Iraq War. As you sat at the head of that meeting, it was made perfectly clear by the moderator that Democrats must take control of congress at all costs, because in doing so, you would be made chairman of the judiciary. It was inferred that this alone was enough to bring accountability to this administration. Of all that I have learned about the Democratic party, I found this to be hardly convincing. By your inaction thus far, you are confirming my skepticism.
I am sure that you would argue that you are holding Bush and his cohorts to account by holding the hearings you have in regard to specific unseemly acts committed by this administration. But these hearings are only meant to inflict political damage on the president. At 30% approval, or thereabouts, how much more political damage can be done? Political damage may serve the Democratic party in its bid for power in 2008, but it does nothing of real substance for the electorate. Only by criminalizing the acts of the president and vice-president can we reclaim from the executive what they have stolen from the people. This must be done so that future administrations will know there are real consequences to deceiving the American public-and ignoring the constitution.
You invited Ray McGovern to those basement hearings and were very eager to listen to his damning testimony about the conduct of this administration. I believe that if you fail to appear at this meeting, it will be because of your fear of being humiliated by your own words. McGovern, as well as the other speakers are not about to back down when you say that impeachment is impractical, or that there isn’t enough time. People in your district, as well as the majority of people in this country are longing to hear the truth stated publicly and officially about the constitutional breaches of this president and administration. And they are longing to hear these truths in a manner that will bear real consequences against the perpetrators. They are longing for justice-justice that you deny them with your inaction.
Mr. Conyers, I am daring you to prove me wrong. Prove me wrong by attending the meeting on May 29, and by standing up for the people who voted you into office. Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and Hillary Clinton did not vote for you as their representative, and they are not the people you owe your allegiance to. On impeachment, your constituents have spoken loud and clear. It is your duty to hear their call, and act accordingly.
JEFFREY KOLAKOWSKI can be reached at Jeffrey.Kolakowski@bbdodetroit.com