Dear Rep. Larsen:
First of all, hearty congratulations to you and your Democratic colleagues for yesterday's great election victory.
This was almost literally a "do or die" election, since a Republican victory would have removed all restraints on the final two years of Mr. Bush's amoral and reckless administration. There is little doubt that he would have used that time to complete the destruction of our system of government and install an Imperial Presidency—all the while assuring us how much he "loves freedom."
It is abundantly, dismayingly clear that the President and his Republican enablers in Congress care not a whit about freedom as enshrined in the Constitution and in our democratic traditions. Exercising power in the service of the privileged is literally all they are interested in, and they have proven over and over again that no lie, no underhanded tactic, no illegal maneuver, is too low for them to sink to in gaining and retaining that power.
To be blunt about it, they must be taught a lesson.
In particular, future presidents must know with certainty that the people will not tolerate the willful destruction of our liberties, the waste of our resources and our very lives under false pretenses, the wanton destruction of our economic future, and the utter disregard for the rule of law.
We must use the only tool at our disposal to send that message as loudly and clearly as possible. We must impeach and remove the President and Vice President.
No sane person could deny the overwhelming evidence of high crimes and misdemeanors—indeed, the President has boasted publicly about some of them. Anyone who looks at the documented facts and finds no impeachable offense only demonstrates how far down the slippery slope toward tyranny they have already fallen.
We must drag ourselves and our democracy back up that dark and threatening slope and drive a stout stake deep in the ground, at which point we say "No. Beyond this you will not go.
Eight years ago, House Republicans voted to impeach President Clinton for lying about an extramarital dalliance—a "crime" in which no lives were lost, no billions were squandered, and no civil liberties were trampled. One Congressman after another rose to proclaim sanctimoniously that the impeachment case was all about the "rule of law."
Today we confront the most lawless administration in modern history. The President, even as he signs legislation passed by the people's elected representatives, attaches disclaimers that say, in effect, "I'll obey this law if and when I feel like it." The will of the people be damned: he is "the decider," and everything else is just for show. He must be taught a lesson.
Let me stress: this isn't about revenge or political advantage. It is about securing our democracy for future generations by reining in the totalitarian ambitions of future "deciders."
You may object, Congressman, that Democrats don't have the votes to convict. This may be true, though it is a sad commentary indeed on the Republican Senators who would put partisan advantage above the bedrock principles of our democracy. There's at least a chance that, when confronted by the evidence in an actual trial, some of them may decide to do the right thing. But even if they don't, the point will have been made that there are consequences to illegal and unprincipled actions.
An impeachment trial would give a full and fair airing of the evidence of the President's illegal conduct, with ample opportunity for him to defend himself against the accusations. It would force each member of Congress to make a public choice between principle and partisanship. And, just maybe, it would begin to restore America's shattered credibility and moral authority among our friends and foes alike.
But most importantly, it will serve as a warning to future presidents that, even in the 21st century, there are some things they can't get away with.