We’ll See You in Hell
Impeachment was always going to go down in flames. We knew that going in. It would pass the House, die in the Senate. Some argued that the certain futility made the exercise pointless, perhaps even prone to backfire.
Our attitude has been: Go down fighting.
What makes impeachment futile, what makes any advance on almost any front almost impossible, is the structure of our government, the enduring system of misrepresentation. The Founders preached that a legitimate government only exists with the consent of the governed, but what they created precludes that.
The House comes closest to representing the citizens of America, but gerrymandering and suppression tip the scales, sometimes profoundly. The Senate is a farce of democracy — Los Angeles County counts more citizens than 41 states. The Electoral College has twice this century chosen a President who lacks a majority of votes cast, and is on track for a third. A minority President and Senate have now appointed one quarter of lifetime federal judges, and two Supreme Court justices.
Changing any of this would require assent from the people who benefit from it.
That’s what we face. That’s what allows tyranny to take hold in America — it already has. It’s built in. We’re lucky as a nation that tyranny has taken this long to manifest itself, for purportedly representative government to veer so afar from the wishes of its citizens.
But it has, and here we are.
40 percent of American voters — 94 million citizens — approve of this. They approve of this Administration, the atrocities carried out in our name, the foreign involvement in our elections, the structural injustice of the system itself. They are a violent sort, at least in their advocacy of it, the threats they wield, the language they express. We face that too, not that each would take arms if thwarted, but that enough would, and the rest would acquiesce to it. We cannot presume they would come to their senses. We cannot presume, their righteous claims to the contrary, that they have any sense of decency. They have shown none.
We face an impossible situation.
Impeachment has been the response to that, one response. Where we cannot prevail against injustice, we must at least bear witness, refuse implicit acquiescence. We must use what means we can, then look beyond what is immediately available to what else is possible.
We will lose — the system is deeply, broadly rigged — but we must go down fighting. History will not judge — history may not even exist a century from now — but we will go to our graves bearing our own consciences. Looking back on what we did with our lives, we must be satisfied that we didn’t acquiesce, we didn’t let injustice prevail without a fight, we did what we could, however meager, however futile. We must be satisfied with that, because in the end that is all we have.
Nancy Pelosi is delaying sending impeachment to the Senate. There are practical reasons for that — the Senate has yet to set the terms of a trial — and for now we’ll take her at her word that the practical reasons are causing the delay. But we can’t help suspect that she’s playing a game, that she’ll find other excuses as each is satisfied, that she considers an unconsummated impeachment politically expedient, just as she considered it politically expedient not to pursue impeachment in the first place.
And, well, we’ll see. We dispute that line of reasoning; we dispute the presumptions underlying it. But even more, we find it craven, the very acquiescence we fear, avoiding one of the few things we can do within a system constructed to perpetuate injustice. Impeachment must be be sent to the Senate to compete the process, to die its fiery death, to get on the official record where the tribunes of our Potemkin Democracy stand on the matter.
We must know that we’re doing what we can, that we did what we could, that we had the courage of our convictions. Defeat may be inevitable, but acquiescence is unconscionable.