No one is above the law. I am sure that it appears that some are but, really and truly they are not.
Ever since The Affordable Care Act was developed (and even some time before), the first thing The Tea Party (an extremist branch of the Republican Party) rallied for was the impeachment of President Obama. To impeach is to formally charge or accuse a public official for misconduct.
There are clauses regarding impeachment in Articles I, II, and III of the United States Constitution. In our history, four US Presidents have endured or been close to impeachment—John Tyler (1843), during a vote in the House of Representatives to carry out his impeachment, the House rejected the charges against him. He had initially been charged with corruption and misconduct.
Two Presidents that actually endured the impeachment process were:
- Andrew Johnson (1868): serious misconduct. He was acquitted by one vote.
- Bill Clinton (1998): perjury and obstruction of justice. He was acquitted.
One resigned before impeachment could be rendered: Richard Nixon (1974). His charges: obstruction and abuse of power.
Impeachment is not limited to ONLY Presidents. It applies to ANY public official. Impeachment is a lengthy process that does not happen overnight. Incidentally, it also DOES NOT mean that the public official is REMOVED from office.
Today, as the Republicans throw around the thought of impeaching President Obama, they will have a long road to bear before that even comes to pass. Let’s pass a spending budget CONGRESS and stop dishing idle threats.
The Constitution is a really intriguing document. It is often referred to as the” Supreme Law of the Land.” It was developed in 1787 and went into effect in 1789 after an earlier attempt at creating a governing system under the Articles of Confederation. Although the Articles of Confederation were a noble attempt, the Framers went back to the drawing board and improved their first draft.
The Constitution is a written document that includes three parts: The Preamble, The Articles, and the Amendments.
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility (peace at home), provide for the common defence (create a military), promote the general Welfare (take care of the people), and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity (future generations), do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
There are seven Articles and each Article defines the specific roles, duties, and responsibilities of the different parts of government. The most commonly referred to Articles are:
- Article I: The Legislative Branch (CONGRESS—this is our looooooonggggest Article)
- Article II: The Executive Branch (The President and his Cabinet)
- Article III: The Judicial Branch (The Supreme Court)
Lastly, are those Amendments—you know the ones that we often like to quote when we feel justified in voicing our opinions (Freedom of Speech—1st Amendment) or amassing ammunition for the rack of guns owned by members of the NRA and others (The Right to Bear Arms—2nd Amendment)? Yes those.
Since the Constitution could not possibly know all of the other facets of life in which people would have to contend, there have been 27 additional changes—laws, added to the Constitution. It’s the 21st Century and we are up to 27, but you can rest assured that we are not done!
The Constitution is the go-to document whenever there is any doubt surrounding the way government is carrying out its functions. Even when the Affordable Care Act was introduced, there were talks among various states that they would not be forced into making the people in their states buy into Obamacare because it was “illegal.” Well in 2012, the Supreme Court reviewed the legislation and voted that Obamacare was not illegal and was in fact constitutional—that means it followed the laws of the Constitution.
Now don’t get me wrong, states are still going to assert the rights that they have duly been granted by the Constitution under the Tenth Amendment:
“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.
What does that mean? It simply means that any powers or rights not given to the Federal government are given to state governments. Things like education, minimum wage, and yes, health care coverage are left up to the states. This battle over Obamacare from representatives of certain states is not the first or the last time states will fight to have their rights maintained. We saw a similar type of battle over slavery and states’ rights that led up to the Civil War from 1861-1865.
Obamacare was passed in 2010, upheld by the Supreme Court in 2012, and our Congress has shut the government down over it in 2013. We will see more of these occurrences. The question becomes what will be the next profound issue? The answer is uncertain, but one thing that is not is that the power in the Constitution comes from We, The People.
Let’s use our power.
It’s about time for a vocabulary brush up when it comes to understanding the political and impending economic debacle (crisis) facing our nation. I am so certain you have been paying attention the best of your ability, the government “shutdown.” I am also certain that at some point in time you have become disillusioned by it all, not because you are not optimistic, but because you are becoming overwhelmed by the political jargon (language) being used.
Here is a really quick and basic crash course in the lingo of the moment:
Our government is made up of three (3) distinct branches: Legislative, Executive, and Judicial
Each Branch has a particular job, duties and responsibilities as laid out in the Constitution, the Supreme Law of the land. The Branch at the center of all of the debate at the moment is the LEGISLATIVE BRANCH. Let’s look at the LEGISLATIVE BRANCH. Article I of the Constitution outlines the duties of this branch. Its primary function is to MAKE LAWS—that includes creating a spending BILL. A BILL only becomes a LAW once it is passed in both houses of CONGRESS, and the President signs off on it.
The House of Representatives + The Senate = CONGRESS
The House has 435 members and the majority of its members are REPUBLICANS. The Senate has 100 members and the majority of its members are DEMOCRATS. As long as CONGRESS has NOT passed a SPENDING BILL, our nation is in SHUTDOWN. The SPENDING BILL determines how much money we will spend in one fiscal year from OCTOBER 1 – SEPTEMBER 30TH, 2014. So far, 15 days have passed and there is NO SPENDING BILL!
On Thursday, we will see a further disruption in our government if CONGRESS does NOT raise the DEBT CEILING: The maximum borrowing power that will allow the Treasury to borrow enough money to pay bills that we have already racked up, on time. Without raising the debt ceiling, we will have to pay the bills we have with the money we have, which is impossible–there is NOT enough money! If we don’t raise the Debt Ceiling, we will DEFAULT and our credit rating will DECREASE. That will be a first time in our history.
Over and over you have heard the term “Clean CR.” This is a term for a clean continuing resolution to remedy the shutdown crisis and to get our government open so that some 800,000 people will not have to remain in furlough with the expectation of receiving back pay while their monthly expenditures continue to amount.
Who is John Boehner?
He is the Speaker of House. His job is to preside over the House of Representatives—those 435 people from the Congressional equation above. He is second in line to succeed the President, after the Vice President (the VP is the President of the Senate—those 100 people for the Congressional Equation above). The Speaker’s power and role are determined by the Constitution in Article 1, Section 2. When President Obama delivers the State of the Union Address (an annual update on how well America is doing), this is the seating arrangement:
Vice President Joe Biden Speaker John Boehner
President Barack Obama
Lastly, because the Republicans are so upset about the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, and because they want it repealed, they have decided to hold the nation hostage!
You will hear a lot of terms that sound unfamiliar, but don’t fret, I will do my best to help you to understand them. Tune in regularly here and I will de-mystify politics. Before you know it, you will be fluent in this language too. No Rosetta Stone necessary!
Disclaimer: THIS IS NOT MY WORK! But as a space to discuss the politics of everyday, The PoliDayReport is giving some shine to this latest piece I’ve read, written by a Ms. Treasure Bonds. In this insightful piece, she likens the behavior of our Congressmen / women to that of children throwing temper tantrums–read it for yourself. Thanks Ms. Bonds!
Showmanship: Why the Shutdown is More Like a Department Store Meltdown
So, we’ve all been there, at the grocery store, the department store etc watching a child have a complete meltdown. Some of them are minor and some can only be described as Chernobyl/Three Mile Island/ Fukashima-level meltdowns. Kicking, screaming, flailing etc.,and if you’re like me you pity the parent(s) and try to pretend you don’t see or hear the spectacle triggered by a request for candy, a toy, wanting to go with Granny/Auntie/Uncle; and, the behavior worsens every time the parent(s) denies said requests for whatever reason. Some parent(s) give in to stop the spectacle, some stand strong and manage to move through the store like nothing is happening (how do they do that by the way?), and some negotiate/compromise for peace. Now, I can’t tell you which of those is a better “parenting technique” but I’m not certain you want to create a connection between disruptive behavior and rewards.
As for showmanship (or performance), I love a good play, movie, opera, musical etc. The story telling, the sets, the costumes and the music, I just love the whole experience. One can become enraptured with all of it and completely delve into the alternate reality presented. But a showdown in our government is never the entertainment I seek.
Watching the news lately I’ve seen what can only be described as equal parts department store meltdown and sheer performance. I’ve seen costumes (well, apparently those people were actually doctors so the lab coats were not, strictly speaking, costumes) and heard demands: “We have to get something;” And seen flailing matched with the whining of, “THEY WON’T NEGOTIATE WITH US” even though we keep changing what we want (as the thought is accompanied by actual foot stomping and pouting):
- De-Fund Obamacare
- Delay Obamacare
- Allow “conscious” exceptions to contraception coverage (riddle me this, would this be part of the political discourse AT ALL if we were talking about Viagra ® and the like? Seriously, does anyone really believe that we would ever allow an employer to decide that they didn’t want to cover Viagra ® or similar products if the employer decided that impotence must have been the Lord’s will for that man?)
- Let’s defund the Consumer Protection Board
- Give us the Keystone Pipeline
GIVE US SOMETHING!!!!!
In short, this is some high level flailing in an ultimate temper tantrum. High level, but unfocused because there are no specifics about what to “GET”; so, this isn’t the kind of meltdown that can be quelled with appeasement or compromise. These displays have been described as: brinksmanship, playing chicken, a dance etc., and they are not at all sophisticated. We’ve all seen temper tantrums, and in our early childhoods, likely had our fair share so let’s stop pretending this government shutdown is something more than that. But it’s epic because the fate of our nation and the people’s lives are on the line. The stakes could not be higher, and I am not being hyperbolic. The Federal Government is shutdown during a time of war…war! Federal Employees are either on furlough or working without pay….WITHOUT PAY! Many of these people have already lost up to 20% of their pay due to sequester cuts. The ripple effects are too numerous to mention here, but everything from mortgages to social security to Medicare feel the effects of this tantrum, and while it’s still too early for the public at-large to feel the effects, they’re coming. Meanwhile the tantrum continues and those who have caused it all will have no disruption in their lives, or their finances. And, here’s where we could talk about what is and is not fair, but come on people! The Fair is where you go to eat funnel cakes and smoked turkey legs. This is life.
If it were my place to address The People, I would start with an apology for the shutdown taking place in our government—I would do this without question. I would hold a special press conference during prime time television at the time when all Americans are on one accord—Thursday nights watching Scandal. I would acknowledge the real-life, scandalous episodes you’ve been living since October 1st, 2013.
Your forgiveness would be of paramount importance to me and reporting your anger to Congress men and women would be a justifiable burden to bear. On behalf of Congress, I would acknowledge the fact that The People are the reasons Congress men and women occupy those seats on Capitol Hill—WE elected them. I would stress that it is in no way our fault that too many members of Congress are vengeful, egomaniacs denying The People access to the livelihoods we know and need. For legislating without logic and replacing duty with loathing and lies, on their behalf, I would employ them to seek The People’s forgiveness.
If it were my place to address The People, I would seek the answers to share with you their motives for making the people suffer. I would investigate the number of times Congress chose to take time away from legislating but chose to address moot points through filibuster, instead. I would address the stealing of The People’s sense of legitimacy in government and I would demand that Congress compensated The People for duties they never served.
If it were my place to address The People, I would ask everyone to do a little a soul-searching as to the choices we made or didn’t make during the local elections. Did the eligible ones of us vote? I would ask everyone to consider the feelings of Congress toward the office of the President—and whether we still believe their feelings justifiable now that our government has shutdown. I would ask: Do we still perceive the uttering of Congressional members’ ill will toward a presidential administration harmless political banter now?
If it were my place to address The People, I would scold Congress and render them unfit to uphold, honor and defend the Constitution–its written and unwritten parts. I would scold Congress for not adhering to the advice of the George Washington regarding political parties:
“It serves to distract the Public Councils, and enfeeble the Public Administration….agitates the Community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms; kindles the animosity of one….against another….it opens the door to foreign influence and corruption…thus the policy and the will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another.”
I would also remind Congress of another of George Washington’s renderings:
“…cherish public credit. One method of preserving it is to use it as sparingly as possible…avoiding likewise the accumulation of debt….it is essential that you…bear in mind, that towards the payments of debts there must be Revenue, that to have Revenue there must be taxes; that no taxes can be devised, which are not…inconvenient and unpleasant…”
Congress, there is no place for big egos in government, but there is always room of apology, reckoning, and doing your job.