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HOW TO LOBBY FOR IMPEACHMENT
See also: What works in lobbying for H Res 333.
We need to impeach Bush and Cheney so that future presidents and vice presidents understand that they cannot commit the same sorts of abuses without risking punishment, so that we can get out of Iraq, so that we can avoid an attack on Iran, so that we can avoid martial law in the event of a catastrophe in the United States, and so that we can begin reversing policies that are creating global warming. Most Congress Members do not care very much about any of these concerns. They want to know, in order of importance, how supporting impeachment will help them win in November of 2008, help their party win in November 2008, keep them in good standing with their party's leadership, make the corporate media like them, and please their constituents.
There are two impeachment bills in the House. H Res 333 sponsored by Kucinich and 18 cosponsors includes three articles of impeachment against Cheney. H Res 589 sponsored by Inslee and 27 cosponsors simply proposes impeachment for Gonzales. Only 5 congress members have sponsored both bills. Others have said publicly that they back impeachment, but have not signed onto these bills. Others have said privately that they want impeachment but not with these bills. Some have said privately that they only want impeachment if it includes Bush. It is important as a citizen lobbyist to understand that Congress is exactly like High School, but with bigger weapons. Congress Members sign onto bills based on how cool they think the sponsor and cosponsors are, who asks them, how they ask them, etc. But if your Representative is resistant to signing onto these two bills, he or she should introduce a new bill, either without any specific charges or including some of these:
1. Refusal to comply with subpoenas (not disputable, and passed by the Judiciary Committee against Nixon)
2. Routine violation of numerous laws, preceded by announcement of intention to do so in signing statements (White House website and GAO study)
3. Violating U.S. law and the Constitution through widespread wiretapping of the phone calls and emails of Americans without a warrant. (Confessed to.)
4. Commuting the sentence of I Lewis Scooter Libby. (Both Madison and Mason argued at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia that impeachment would protect against a president pardoning someone for a crime that he himself was involved in).
5. Violating the United Nations Charter by launching an illegal "War of Aggression" against Iraq without cause, using fraud to sell the war to Congress and the public, and misusing government funds to begin bombing without Congressional authorization.
6. Violating U.S. and international law by authorizing the torture of thousands of captives, resulting in dozens of deaths, and keeping prisoners hidden from the International Committee of the Red Cross.
7. Violating the Constitution by arbitrarily detaining Americans, legal residents, and non-Americans, without due process, without charge, and without access to counsel.
8. Violating the Geneva Conventions by targeting civilians, journalists, hospitals, and ambulances, and using illegal weapons, including white phosphorous, depleted uranium, and a new type of napalm.
9. Violating U.S. law by using paid propaganda and disinformation, selectively and misleadingly leaking classified information, and exposing the identity of a covert CIA operative working on sensitive WMD proliferation for political retribution.
10. Violating U.S. and state law by obstructing honest elections in 2000, 2002, 2004, and 2006.
11. Gross negligence in failing to assist New Orleans residents after Hurricane Katrina.
1. Refusal to comply with subpoenas.
2. Creating and advocating the "Unitary Executive Theory" which is used by the White House to defy laws duly enacted by Congress and thereby justify dictatorial action. Cheney's office has drafted many if not all of the signing statements.
3. Cheney played a key role in setting up illegal spying programs.
4. Coordinating campaign to obstruct the investigation of Patrick Fitzgerald.
5. Coordinating a campaign of retribution against whistleblower Joseph Wilson, including the outing of a covert CIA operative.
6. Leading efforts to institute routine use of torture.
7. Leading campaign to manipulate pre-war intelligence.
8. Creating secret Energy Task Force which operated in defiance of open-government laws.
9. Directing massive no-bid contracts to his company, Halliburton, and profiting from the same illegal war he defrauded the American public to launch.
10-12 from H Res 333:
Cheney has purposely manipulated the intelligence process to deceive the citizens and Congress of the United States by fabricating a threat of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction to justify the use of the United States Armed Forces against the nation of Iraq in a manner damaging to our national security interests, to wit….
Cheney purposely manipulated the intelligence process to deceive the citizens and Congress of the United States about an alleged relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda in order to justify the use of the United States Armed Forces against the nation of Iraq in a manner damaging to our national security interests, to wit….
Cheney has openly threatened aggression against the Republic of Iran absent any real threat to the United States, and done so with the United States proven capability to carry out such threats, thus undermining the national security of the United States, to wit….
How will impeachment help your representative win in November 2008?
The ideal answer to this question involves reference to a specific credible primary or general election challenger campaigning on the issue of impeachment. You, as good-cop, should only be referring to such an inherently evil being. You shouldn't know them or be working with them, but you should point them out.
Short of that, you should point out the polling (American Research Group has done the only poll ever done on impeaching Cheney: 54% yes, 40% no, and 76% of Democrats yes) and the energy and activism. You want to convey that people will turn out and campaign and work to turn out the vote for an impeachment supporter, but do nothing to help and stay home rather than voting for a defender of Dick Cheney.
How will impeachment help their party win in November 2008?
This case is most easily made with Democrats but can be modified for Republicans.
Bush and Cheney are the least popular president and vice president since we've had polling. Putting them on trial and forcing Republicans to defend them will help dramatically. The historical record shows that when a party pushes for impeachment, it benefits. The one exception (the Clinton impeachment) was an impeachment that three-quarters of the public opposed, and the extent to which the Republicans suffered has been greatly exaggerated.
When the Democrats held back from impeachment during Iran Contra, they lost the next elections. When the Democrats led the effort to investigate and impeach Nixon, they won big in the next election, even though Ford was running as an incumbent. When the Republicans tried to impeach Truman, they got what they wanted out of the Supreme Court and then won the next elections. Articles of Impeachment have been filed against 10 presidents, usually by Republicans, and usually with electoral success following.
When the Republicans impeached Clinton, impeachment was actually unpopular with the public. Even so, the Republicans lost far fewer seats than is the norm for a majority party at that point in its tenure. Two years later, they lost seats in the Senate, which had acquitted, but maintained their strength in the House, with representatives who had led the impeachment charge winning big.
Parties that seek to impeach are not punished at the next election. In fact, they frequently improve their position -- as evidenced by Dems in 1974, Republicans in 1952, and all the way back to the Whigs of last century. In every election back to 1842 where House members of an opposition party to a sitting president have -- as a whole or a significant caucus within the party -- proposed impeachment of the president, that opposition party retained or improved its position in the House at the following election. There is no instance of voters responding to a significant impeachment effort by sweeping its advocates out of office. In fact, history points in a different direction -- suggesting that voters frequently reward parties for taking the Constitution and the rule of law seriously.
Unpopular as Bush is, Congress is even more unpopular. Passing bills that will be vetoed won't fool people for another year and a half. Sending out subpoenas and contempt citations that will be laughed at and ignored isn't fooling anybody. Holding hearings rehearsing the evidence we already know will only increase the demand for impeachment and the anger over the refusal to act. Impeachment is the only way to turn things around.
How will impeachment keep them in good standing with their party's leadership?
This can be answered for Democrats, but obviously not well. Try to avoid this topic.
Encourage your Representative to explain to their party's leadership the answer to the question above this one.
Add to that some information on the amount of time an impeachment would need to take. Cheney and Bush could be impeached very quickly.
Nixon's impeachment took three months. Clinton's impeachment and trial combined took four months. The current Congress has wasted more than eight months already in avoiding impeachment, and has very little to show for it. Congress has taken no serious steps toward ending the occupation of Iraq, and has in fact provided major new funding for it. During Nixon's impeachment and the lead up to it, in contrast, the threat of impeachment allowed Congress to raise the minimum wage, create the Endangered Species Act, and end a war.
The choice is not impeachment or passing bills to be vetoed, but impeachment and a greater likelihood of seeing bills signed into law.
In addition, Americans do not see impeachment as a distraction, but as a priority. They see it as restoring the Bill of Rights.
Isn't it more important to end the war? Well, ending the war is a task that could best be accomplished by inaction, by Congress refusing to provide any more funding. Or it could be accomplished by a bill created by one committee. It is not a fulltime task for the entire Congress.
Should Congress actually cut off the funding and end the war, it is very likely that Bush and Cheney would misappropriate funds from the Pentagon to keep the occupation going. They did so in order to secretly begin the war, and they have never been held accountable for it. So, removing them from office is not only needed in order to put Bush and Cheney on the defensive, but is also needed if the war is ever to actually end.
Why not do investigations and see where they lead? Because they have led to the Bush administration refusing to comply with a growing list of subpoenas: http://democrats.com/subpoenas . The House Judiciary Committee passed three articles of impeachment against Nixon. Article 3 was for refusal to comply with subpoenas. And they've led to Bush ordering a former staffer not to comply with subpoenas, and to Bush announcing that the Justice Department will not enforce congressional contempt citations. Moreover, no new evidence is needed to prove various charges listed above.
How will impeachment make the corporate media like your representative?
There are enough cosponsors now, that more cowardly congress members can sign onto the current bills without being noticed by the media. But the media tends to love adversarial issues and spokespeople, and will catch on quickly to the ratings and sales potential of impeachment. Meanwhile, the progressive and independent media will make a hero out of a congress member who signs on for impeachment – just ask any of those who have done so.
How will impeachment please constituents?
See the poll numbers above. Ideally, report on a local poll. Report also on the activism in the district and the potential for more of it. Don't threaten. Use the good-cop, bad-cop game. Let them know that they can expect intense lobbying and protests. Let them know how grateful many people will be for their support. Talk to them if you can about specific victims of Bush-Cheney policies. Put a human face on the damage they are doing.