We advise reading our article on what is impeachment along with this article.
On July 17, 2019, Rep. Al Green (Democrat, TX) introduced House Resolution 498 to begin impeachment of President Donald Trump. That failed in a vote of 332 against vs. 95 for and 5 votes taking neither position. All 95 votes were on partisan political Democrat lines.
Rep. Green cited as the reason for the call to impeach –
“unfit to be President, unfit to represent the American values of decency and morality, respectability and civility, honesty and propriety,reputability and integrity, is unfit to defend the ideals that have made America great, unfit to defend liberty and justice for all as extolled in the Pledge of Allegiance, is unfit to defend the American ideal of all persons being created equal as exalted in the Declaration of Independence, is unfit to ensure domestic tranquility, promote the general welfare and to ensure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity as lauded in the preamble to the United States Constitution, is unfit to protect the government of the people, by the people, for the people as elucidated in the Gettysburg Address,and is impeached for high misdemeanors that the following Article of Impeachment be exhibited to the Senate”
This was based on tweets by President Trump, that did not name any specific member of Congress nor the race, creed, ethnicity or gender of any member. But was attributed to 4 Congresswomen of color. The media and social media later attributed the reasoning and meaning of the tweets to racial and sexist bias. Assuming the attributions placed on the tweets are true, is this an impeachable act? Is this a crime?
Did Trump commit a crime?
Under the 1st Amendment, the answer is no. Even if some Americans find the comments distasteful, freedom of expression and speech cannot be restricted. As even the attributions placed on the tweet do not involve violence or calls to violence, this is protected speech.
Does a distasteful, even racist and/or sexist, comments from a President qualify the President as unfit? No. Segregationist Pres. Lyndon B.Johnson was well known for his crude, tasteless and racist rants and action. Not only in directly stating the most vile of racial slurs, but in taking actions of a provoking nature. As MSNBC reported in 2014,
“Johnson spent the late 1940s railing against the “hordes of barbaric yellow dwarves” in East Asia. Buying into the stereotype that blacks were afraid of snakes (who isn’t afraid of snakes?) he’d drive to gas stations with one in his trunk and try to trick black attendants into opening it… Even as president, Johnson’s interpersonal relationships with blacks were marred by his prejudice.”
But perhaps that is too far in the past for some. Maybe we are reaching too high. How about members of Congress themselves? What about the comments of Rep. Ayanna Pressley, who said in part
“If you’re not prepared to come to that table and represent that voice, don’t come, because we don’t need any more brown faces that don’t want to be a brown voice. We don’t need black faces that don’t want to be a black voice. We don’t need Muslims that don’t want to be a Muslim voice. We don’t need queers that don’t want to be a queer voice. If you’re worried about being marginalized and stereotyped, please don’t even show up because we need you to represent that voice.”
That sounds rather racist, anti-gay, and Islamophobic.Besides being exclusionary and authoritarian. Should Rep. Pressley be removed from office? Not a single Democrat in Congress thinks so. Thus being unfit because someone doesn’t like the words you say is both arbitrary and useless.
Both seem to be “unfit to defend the ideals that have made America great”. But what about morality? Let’s look at the words of Rep.Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on 60 Minutes. In an interview, when asked about her many incredulous and inaccurate statements, she said
“If people want to really blow up one figure here or one word there, I would argue that they’re missing the forest for the trees,” she said. I think that there’s a lot of people more concerned about being precisely, factually, and semantically correct than about being morally right.”
Denying and ignoring facts, as a Representative is obligated to inform constituents on facts and pass laws base don those facts is at the least troubling. Many would say excusing outright lies and fabrication for a personal and political benefit is someone unfit to serve the public. Certainly such blatant and purposive manipulation is as Rep. Green defined, “…unfit to defend the American ideal of all persons being created equal as exalted in the Declaration of Independence, is unfit to ensure domestic tranquility, promote the general welfare and to ensure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity…” Would the 95 Democrats that voted to impeach our sitting President also agree to remove AOC from office? Highly improbable.
And so on…
We can go on and on. From ludicrous statements by Speaker Pelosi equating unemployment payments with economic stimulus, to any number of comments from former VP Joe Biden (like Indians and 7/11 stores), to literally almost every member of Congress.
Even minor congressional members like Rep. Anthony Brindisi, who in November 2018 championed a living wage ($21+/hr), but in July 2019 voted against a far lower $15/hr minimum wage. Yet no Democrat would dare ask any of those people to be removed from elected office (well maybe Biden).
So what does this all mean? That in every case except 3, the battle ax of impeachment is a campaign slogan. It is almost universally meant as an emotional tool to sway voters, and threaten the power of the Legislative Branch over the Executive Branch. In modern politics, it’s a gimmick.
Worse, the actions of Rep. Green and the 94 Democrats voting for impeachment has another dire message in it. That speech, that some do not like, is a crime. That exercise of the 1st Amendment can result in punishment -even to those holding the highest elected office in the nation.
That should chill every American to the bone.