Alan Keyes
Impeachment: Congress's cowardice
By Alan Keyes
April 20, 2015

From their inception as a nation, the people of the United States have upheld a standard of God-endowed unalienable right. In light of that standard, they recognize and mutually commit to respect the provisions of "the laws of nature and of nature's God" by which human beings are bound to do what preserves and perpetuates human existence, for individuals and for humanity as a whole. For the sake of the right connected with the Creator's provisions for human nature, they institute governments which, by their common will and joint activity, they empower as instruments for securing themselves from harm as they exercise (implement, carry out) the rights (right intentions and inclinations) with which the Creator has informed their nature. But, as America's founding generation declared,

"... whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security." (The Declaration of Independence)

Earlier this week, I read a report that Rep. Ted Yoho "is bringing forth legislation to define 'high crimes and misdemeanors' and what actions ought to trigger impeachment proceedings against the president." He makes it clear, however, that "this is not about impeaching.... This is a notice that says, 'From this point forward, there will be no impeachment as long as you stay within these parameters.'" The last formulation is questionable. Is Rep. Yoho's action intended to assure that impeachment and trial will take place, when facts and circumstances warrant it? Or is it intended to restrict future congressional action, regardless of facts and circumstances, within boundaries defined by this present Congress?

During this Congress and the last, the GOP's quisling congressional leaders have decried Obama's actions as lawless, derelict, and anti-constitutional, yet they have not impeached and tried him according to the Constitution's provisions. Their example instructs future Congresses to be derelict in their duty to safeguard the Constitution. So considering the source (an action any Executive under challenge in the future is very likely to encourage), why, in future, would people take what the present Congress dictates as a fit standard for action?

The record of their inaction raises questions about the GOP's present intentions. In articles published this week on my blog and at, I address these questions. The Constitution's provisions regarding impeachment/trial are meant to provide a constitutional way to do what, in other times and places (including America in 1776) required bloody and destructive warfare. But is it sensible for the representatives of the states and the people in one era to try to dictate the point at which evils will become insufferable for people at some point in the future? Rep. Yoho's initiative suggests that he thinks it is. But why does this make more sense than allowing each generation to make its own judgment, in light of its own experience and circumstances, as the framers of the Constitution already have done?

The framers knew by experience that this decision is fraught with the prospect of civil conflict. They also knew for how long they had petitioned and remonstrated with the British government to recognize and desist from the violation of their unalienable rights. They knew that war could have been avoided if the British sovereign had accepted to hear and act upon their reasonable protestations against its actions.

In the U.S. Constitution, the process of impeachment, assigned to the U.S. House of Representatives, corresponds to the period of petition and remonstration during which the founding generation of the American people identified and articulated, in reasonable fashion, the violations of right inflicted upon their body politic. The trial in the U.S. Senate corresponds to the contest in which the authority of the British sovereign was put at trial, convicted, and removed from authority over them.

Of course, under the U.S. Constitution, war is not the ultimate arbiter on whose conviction the verdict at trial depends. That role falls to the people of the United States. In periodic elections, they are given the opportunity to elect new members of Congress, so that the people's judgment in this regard can be reflected in the composition of Congress. Whatever the Congress does now in order to pander for votes in the next election, its derelict leaders refused to put the issue of Obama's high crimes and misdemeanors before the American people in 2014. They refused to make the election a referendum against the lawless, anti-constitutional actions and policies many of them were denouncing for political effect.

These abuses could still be called to account if the GOP majority in Congress used its position to conduct the investigations and hearings impeachment requires, and if they then voted a bill of particulars against Obama and his cronies, impeaching these officials for the high crimes and misdemeanors that are plainly recognizable here and now. The best thing to do for future generations is not some specious attempt to dictate (and thereby purport to limit) their actions against an abusive executive. It's to give meaning, by example and in practice, to what the provisions of the Constitution require. A master musician will play through a difficult passage so that his performance can instruct and influence a pupil. The best teachers know that their example is the right guide for the pupil, not words belied by actions that contradict them.

If the GOP really wants to move the nation toward restored respect for the integrity of the U.S. Constitution, they will stop playing politics and start practicing statesmanship – so that the impeachment and trial of Obama for his high crimes and misdemeanors provides a record of action and reasonable argumentation in which future generations will find instruction, even as they warn the would-be tyrants-of-the-moment that we are still a free people, and that our patience with their attacks on our constitutional self-government is already at an end.

To see more articles by Dr. Keyes, visit his blog at and his commentary at and

© Alan Keyes


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Alan Keyes

Dr. Keyes holds the distinction of being the only person ever to run against Barack Obama in a truly contested election – featuring authentic moral conservatism vs. progressive liberalism – when they challenged each other for the open U.S. Senate seat from Illinois in 2004... (more)


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