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Progressives, Advocacy Groups Demand Impeachment Hearings

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

After Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s 400-page report detailed numerous instances in which President Donald Trump may have attempted to obstruct justice, progressive lawmakers and advocacy groups on Thursday made the case that it is the duty of Congress to begin impeachment proceedings.

Mueller’s report is clear in pointing to Congress’ responsibility in investigating obstruction of justice by the president,” tweeted Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). “As such, I’ll be signing onto Rashida Tlaib’s impeachment resolution.”

Formally introduced last month, Tlaib’s resolution directs the House Judiciary Committee to immediately begin investigating whether Trump “committed impeachable offenses.”

Ocasio-Cortez went on to acknowledge the political tensions surrounding the impeachment issue, but concluded Mueller’s report “squarely puts this on our doorstep.”

Ocasio-Cortez’s call for an impeachment probe—which was joined by Reps. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Al Green (D-Texas), and others—came after House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) quickly dismissed the growing demand for impeachment proceedings, saying they would “not be worthwhile at this point.”

The Washington Post‘s Greg Sargent denounced Hoyer’s remarks as “straight-up abdication” and “dereliction of basic duty.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who has previously said moving to impeach Trump is “just not worth it,” announced following the Mueller report rollout that the House Democratic caucus will hold a conference call Monday to discuss the special counsel’s findings.

Progressive advocacy groups argued there’s no reason for delay.

“We will not treat this as normal,” MoveOn said in a petition that has garnered nearly 160,000 signatures. “And politicians in Washington must not continue to conduct business as usual. Everyone in Congress must look in the mirror and decide how they will fulfill their oath to defend our Constitution—and which side of history they want to be on.”

 

Credo Mobile echoed this call in a petition of its own, demanding that House Democrats “immediately act to defend our democracy” by launching impeachment hearings against both Trump and Attorney General William Barr, who was accused of acting as the president’s personal lawyer during a press conference ahead of the Mueller report’s release.

“Speaker Pelosi and House Democrats have a choice to make, and the path they choose will speak volumes about their commitment to our democracy and to the communities Trump threatens every day: Will they continue to play politics as usual or will they step up to use their power to impeach both Donald Trump and William Barr?” Credo’s petition reads.

In an open letter to House Democrats on Thursday, The Intercept‘s Mehdi Hasan argued Mueller’s findings provide “a clear and detailed road map for impeaching Donald Trump.”

Citing the Mueller report’s statement that “Congress has authority to prohibit a president’s corrupt use of his authority in order to protect the integrity of the administration of justice,” Hasan wrote: “[T]he time for waiting is over. And the moment for impeachment hearings has arrived.”

“Look, I get it. You’re afraid,” he added. “You’re afraid of the backlash from your Republican counterparts. You’re afraid of losing in the Senate, where—right now—you lack a majority to convict Trump. You’re afraid that impeachment hearings will distract from your party’s 2020 presidential campaign. But your job, first and foremost, is to preserve democracy and protect the rule of law. That’s the job assigned to you by the Constitution and also what’s expected of you by the American people. You cannot walk away from it.”

Liberals Find Community — And That Could Be Big

During the presidential campaign, many Hillary Clinton voters in Atlanta’s suburbs thought they were alone. That was an easy conclusion to draw because few felt comfortable putting Clinton signs on their front lawns or expressing their political preference at parties. Their neighbors seemed overwhelmingly Republican.

It took the presidency of Donald Trump to shock them out of their quietude. They emerged from the bunkers, blinking and surprised to find they had so much company. Many are now harnessing their distress to their newly discovered numbers and going activist. They are thus giving a 30-year-old novice named Jon Ossoff a fighting chance to win the congressional seat recently vacated by Republican Tom Price, Trump’s secretary of health.

This wouldn’t be happening without Trump. Today’s scenes of environmental degradation and Russian infiltration — under the tweeting fingers of a possibly mad emperor — would wake the political dead. They have electrified a left prone to battling itself over deviations in liberal scripture but also a center wanting nothing more than a day of normal news.

In other times, #resistance might come off as a bit melodramatic. Trump world has made it feel downright mainstream.

Trump has thus transformed the liberal ranks from stray cats to packs of dogs. Dogs act bolder when traveling in numbers. Dogs want community.

Participants in the women’s marches in January recall the events not so much for stoking anger but for providing comfort. The throngs of peaceful marchers overwhelmed the few radicals ready to rumble. Their sense of well-being came from communing with so many ordinary women — and men — who felt as they did.

Like the Tea Party right, liberals are flocking to their own media campfires for warmth, talking points, and calls to action. On MSNBC, Rachel Maddow is now edging out the troubled king of right-wing palaver, Bill O’Reilly, in total audience. (She has long dominated him in the coveted 25- to 54-year-old demographic.)

On CBS, Stephen Colbert has become the go-to guy for smart and witty late-night commentary from a liberal perspective. As such, he is bringing younger audiences back to network TV.

And in a shoutout to “CBS Evening News,” let us praise anchor Scott Pelley. His willingness to tell what’s really happening with minimal dramatics and apparently little concern about being attacked by the right is refreshing.

The surprise hit podcast of 2017 — “Pod Save America” — stars three luminaries from the Obama administration. It offers lively and interesting political chat — but nothing that would have seemed earth-shattering before Nov. 8. Now it’s vacuuming up audiences and advertising.

Speaking of which, it was interesting to see how quickly major advertisers deserted O’Reilly’s show after reports of the host’s penchant for serial sexual harassment. In doing so, they must have considered the perils of displeasing his avid fan base. On the other hand, how many millions of women were marching?

The Tea Party’s membership was never huge in numbers, but the movement knew how to turn communal passions into political clout. Members jeered politicians and joined enthusiastic protests. But their real power came from marching as a group to party primaries and other elections that less engaged voters ignored.

Democrats hope to use that strategy in the special election in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District. Ossoff is currently running against several Republicans. Should he get more than 50 percent of the vote, he’d take a storied seat once inhabited by former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

Political revolutions don’t happen on Twitter. They happen when like-minded citizens join to vote.

As jazz poet Gil Scott-Heron famously vocalized, “The revolution will not be televised…The revolution will be live.”

Why We Shouldn’t Let Resentment Define Us

So this driver is stopped at an intersection. A pedestrian is dawdling in the crosswalk. Driver leans out the window and yells, “Get out of the street, you damned liberal!”

It’s been years since I read that in a magazine. I can’t remember if it was a true story, though I think it was. But even if only apocryphal, the picture it paints of American acrimony in the post-millennial years is true beyond mere facts.

As such, it leaves me questioning the likely impact of two recent well-intentioned pleas for ideological outreach. Joan Blades, co-founder of the liberal activist group Moveon.org, wrote an essay for The Christian Science Monitor, asking progressives to stretch beyond their left-wing comfort zones and “love thy neighbor.” And New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof warned the left against a tendency to “otherize” Donald Trump voters.

I’ve got no real argument with Kristof or Blades. It’s a noble gesture they’re making. It occurs to me, though, that none of this addresses a question that has come to seem obvious: What if the problem is simply that we just don’t like each other?

As I’ve said often, our acrimony is not political. It’s not about tax rates, government regulation, or even abortion rights. No, this is elemental.

This is about the city versus the country, higher education versus a mistrust thereof, Christian fundamentalism versus secular humanism. And it is about social change versus status quo.

Consider for a moment how often in history that change has been forcefully imposed on conservatives. It has been done by statute, by court decision, by executive order and, once, by war.

This is not an apology for that. In every instance, force was necessitated by the intransigence of those who defended that status quo because they were not ready for change.

If change must wait until all parties are “ready” for it, then change will never come.

So no, the foregoing is just an observation: Resentment is the residue of forced change. And this particular resentment is old, deep, and festering. Worse, it is useful. Republicans have found the maintenance and exploitation of that resentment to be a political gold mine. For instance, it helped elect Donald Trump.

But resentment is not identity. Or at least, it never was before. These days, people seem to wear their resentments — and more to the point, the ideological labels that give them voice — the way they wear gender or ethnicity, i.e., as an immutable marker of self. Suddenly, “conservative” is not about what you believe, but what you are. Small wonder the feud between ideologies comes to seem as mindless — and about as amenable to amicable resolution — as the one between the Hatfields and the McCoys.

Then you see a George W. Bush cozy up to his friend Michelle Obama and it stirs some vague, vestigial hope, some reminder that none of this is destiny, some realization that we must resolve this hate — it is not too strong a word — if we want to continue as one nation, indivisible. You see them buddied up across their vast ideological divide and you wonder why we can’t all be like that.

Still, with due respect to Kristof and Blades, I don’t know that progressive outreach alone can get us there. I find it noteworthy that I’ve seen no prominent conservative columnist or activist issue a similar call to the political right. Maybe I missed it. If so, I look forward to the correction. It would be a hopeful thing.

Because it’s a fallacy to believe progressives can fix America’s acrimony by changing their attitudes. I am all for reaching out.

But it helps to have someone else reaching back.

IMAGE: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during his “Make America Great Again” rally at Orlando Melbourne International Airport in Melbourne, Florida, U.S. February 18, 2017.  REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

How The #Resistance Is Tapping Into The Tea Party’s Playbook

IMAGE: Demonstrators march during the “Day Without Immigrants” protest in Washington, D.C., on February 16. Hundreds of anti-Trump protests are planned next week, when Congress members are home in their districts.AARON P. BERNSTEIN/REUTERS