All things whatsoever they shall say to you, observe and do: but according to their works, do ye not. For they say, and do not. For they bind heavy and insupportable burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders: but with a finger of their own they will not move them. And all their works they do for to be seen of men. (Matthew 23:3-5)
I saw an article on WND this morning with the headline “Congress finally takes up ‘High Crimes and misdemeanors’. It reports that Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Fla.) “is bringing forth legislation to define “high crimes and misdemeanors” and what actions ought to trigger impeachment proceedings against the president. The article quotes him asking “When is Congress going to stand up and have some accountability and rein in the power of the executive branch?” After I read it, I found myself trying to remember the exact words of Jesus Christ, which I looked up and have quoted above.
You see, Rep. Yoho wants this Congress to write a bill that purports to dictate what offenses future Congresses should find to be impeachable. This is exactly what the language of the U.S. Constitution does not do, which fact the article alludes to while speculating that “non-partisan critics may be very quick to point out that America’s founders deliberately left “high crimes and misdemeanors” vague so as not to dictate to all future leaders what constitutes an impeachable offense.” Yoho says that “they allowed Congresses to go ahead and define those in the future,” and that, as the article observes, is “what the congressman believes his bill does now.”
Unfortunately, the article does not give us any indication of the reasoning that led Congressman Yoho to conclude that it’s wise for the present Congress to prescribe what the Constitution leaves as a judgment for Congress (and the people they represent) to make, in light of the actual circumstances they have to deal with. According to the article, he says that they “played around” with the possibility of defining the offenses further, but decided to allow “allow Congresses to go ahead and define those in the future.”
Though he doesn’t quite say so, Congressman Yoho’s words leave the impression that people in the founding generation found it too difficult to do what contemporary Americans (who are of course better and smarter than those predominantly white, racist, slaveholding, anti-homosexual Bible thumpers, right?) now have the intelligence and wisdom to achieve. Of course, there is the little fact that the founding generation successfully laid the foundation for what eventually became the most successful and powerful nation of its own (and perhaps all) time; a nation that elitists in this this arrogantly decrepit generation are blithely working to destroy. Why should they let that interfere with their arrogant self-esteem?
I find, however, that the standard of Jesus Christ often interferes with my ability to go along with any such estimation of the relative wisdom of this generation, in comparison with previous ones. So his reference to those who “say and do not” forced me to consider what the Congress, including this present one, has been doing. It forces me to consider the fact that there are certain human activities in which precepts “must be acted ‘ere they may be scanned”, for good or ill. Government is definitely one of them.
It’s rather like a playing a piece of music. In a way the written score is an accurate record of what is to be done, but musicians in a studio who simply play along with the score in a mechanical fashion will not produce a satisfactory recording of the music. Among themselves, and with the help of a good conductor, they must act on judgments about what is to be done that depend on what they actually hear, as and when they are playing the music. That’s why musicians learn to play a piece simply by reading about it. They practice it, which means in the end that they must put it into practice.
With this in mind, it occurred to me that what Rep. Yoho is proposing to do with impeachment is what Congress has been doing with budget and fiscal matters for many years. Thanks to the debased nature of their approach to elections, politicians these days are addicted to government spending. Their political empires require it. When right-minded voters demand greater budget and fiscal discipline, this systemic addiction makes it impossible for elected officials to comply. So they spend and borrow like there’s no tomorrow, continually devising new Ponzi schemes intended to push the consequences forward into the future.
To distract from their own refusal to practice budget and fiscal discipline they write bills that set goals and impose limits and burdens on future Congresses and generations. Like the Pharisees Christ criticized, they do this in order to look good in eyes of some voters without curtailing the spending frenzy that allows them to tell other voters how much the government is doing for them.
In similar fashion, the GOP’s elitist faction quislings have connived at Obama’s anti-constitutional actions in order to serve and placate the powerful elitist faction money masters who fund their political ambitions. While admitting and loudly braying against Obama’s refusal faithfully to execute constitutionally enacted laws; his lawless, dictatorial usurpation of powers the Constitution vests in the legislative branch; and now his impending disregard for Constitutional provisions requiring U.S. Senate ratification of treaties; they have contrived actually to connive at, fund and collaborate with his policies and actions.
All the while they have steadfastly reject their responsibility to use the Constitution’s provisions for the impeachment and trial of the President and other civil officers when there is evidence to suggest that they are guilty of “the abuse or violation of some public trust…of a nature which may with peculiar propriety be denominated POLITICAL, as they relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to the society itself.” (Alexander Hamilton, Federalist #65). Hamilton notes that such injuries “will seldom fail to agitate the passions of the whole community, and to divide it into parties more or less friendly or inimical to the accused.”
Hamilton’s astute observation suggests that, just as the physical body of an individual presents symptoms in reaction to an infection or other disease, the body politic reacts to the high crimes and misdemeanors that are properly subject to impeachment and trial. This analogy points to the question Rep. Yoho has apparently failed to consider. It’s a question that’s especially relevant when we consider the fact that extraordinary measures, rightly judged necessary to the nation’s survival in one set of circumstances, may be inexcusable offenses against Constitutional law and right in another. How can one Congress purport to impose a diagnosis of “high crimes and misdemeanors” on future Congresses when any such diagnosis requires an assessment of the actual symptoms present in the body politic at any given time? How especially can they presume to do so when they have refused try their judgment by following the procedures the Constitution prescribes? [In a recent post on my blog I began a discussion of this question that will conclude in my WND column on Friday.]
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.