Ben Mitchell: Impeachment is a matter of national integrity

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The Democratic Party establishment lacks the integrity to impeach a president for even the most obvious impeachable offenses. That must change if we are to have any hope of restoring citizen control of our government.

Last December when Texas Democratic Al Green introduced articles of impeachment for President Trump (H. Res. 646), the majority of House Democrats joined with all the Republicans in voting to table the articles without consideration. Vermont Congressman Peter Welch voted with this quisling majority in refusing even to discuss whether Trump has committed impeachable offenses. The evidence that Trump has violated the Constitution is overwhelming on three distinct grounds.

So why do Peter Welch-style Democrats run from the truth? Tabling is the legislative equivalent of burying one's head in the sand. Spineless Democrats say they don't want to spend "political capital" defending constitutional government. That just seems wrong to me. Defending constitutional values - impeaching a president who violates the Constitution - is the way to BUILD political capital, not spend it.

With Peter Welch, this political cowardice is a pattern. Remember when President Bush lied us into war in Iraq? In 2007, Peter Shumlin led the Vermont Senate to vote to impeach George W. Bush. Had the Vermont House voted to impeach Bush, it would have forced a debate on the floor of the U.S. House where Democrats had just taken power. At that time, Peter Welch was no longer in the Vermont Legislature, but he lobbied the House and helped kill Shumlin's initiative. For Welch, impeaching a president responsible for killing thousands of Americans and Iraqis was a "political distraction." My father was in the House at the time and said that Welch's admonition was the determining force in his vote.

More than 10 years later, Peter Welch's lack of moral compass has contributed to the endless American wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. By destabilizing that region, the unprovoked invasion of Iraq set that stage for decades of war and turmoil, leading to our current global refugee crisis. The 17th century founder of modern conservatism, Edmund Burke says, "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." What do you call it when powerful individuals actively block the "good men" who try to act?

As your Congressman, I will work every day to hold Trump accountable for his malfeasance. I will seize every opportunity available to support Constitutional values, oppose unconstitutional wars, and vote to impeach any president against whom there is credible evidence. Please, Mr. Welch, let us at least have a trial on the evidence.

Peter Welch has always chosen the path of least resistance as the safest way to stay in power. He hasn't changed; the time for calculated inaction has long since passed.

Ben Mitchell, of Westminster West, is a Vermont Democratic candidate for U.S. House. The opinions expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect the views of the Brattleboro Reformer.

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