Monday, March 13, 2006

Impeachment Trial Begins!

Or did, on this day in 1868. Of course, the issues back then were completely different than they are today. In 1868, the President and Congress were focused sharply on civil rights (the President wanted to restore full citizenship and sovereignty to the newly-defeated Southern states, focusing on the rights of the white majority, while Congress wanted to impose long-term provisional and military governements there, largely in order to pass and enforce civil rights laws for the newly-freed slaves). In 1868, Congress wasn't afraid to challenge bad policies (it repeatedly overrode Johnson's vetoes of civil rights laws) or to take a broad view of its own power (even passing a law preventing the President from firing his own Cabinet members until Congress had approved their replacements, called the Tenure Of Office Act). In 1868, when the President broke a law passed by Congress (that same Act, by firing Secretary of War Edwin Stanton), Congress had the cojones to impeach the President instead of cowering before him. In 1868, public officials had backbones (when fired, Stanton barricaded himself in his office, and ordered the arrest of his replacement). In 1868, there were Republicans willing to go against the party line (Johnson's impeachment failed by one vote in the Senate, that vote being a Republican who broke ranks). And back in those times, newly-appointed Supreme Court justices might have extremely short tenures (in 1869, the recently-elected President Grant appointed Stanton to the high court, but Stanton died four days after being confirmed).

Today, of course, neither the White House nor Congress in interested in states' rights, civil rights, checks and balances, or independently-operating branches of government. Today, there are neither Executive Branch officials brave enough to stand up for themselves against an overreaching President nor Republican Senators with the personal integrity to break ranks for what they believe in. And today, it looks like newly-appointed Supreme Court justices will be there for a long, long, long time.

So the events of 1868 have nothing at all to do with today's situation, making this post a complete waste of your valuable time.


1 comment:

badthinker said...

its not that they dont have backbone its just that theyre too fat from the corporate money to stand up straight. Not to mention to have accountability to the people since they're more worried about getting real elected than solving real issues. Just my pessimisitic two cents.