Politics & Policy

Turnout Will Make All the Difference in Congress

Whoever wins the election, wise congressional leaders must control the one who takes office.

Some of us this election year don’t even want to say the words “Clinton” or “Trump” — and with good reason. However, there is one word that we should keep in mind: “turnout.”

If we sit home in disgust on Election Day, we forfeit the right — and the duty — to elect a Congress that can keep either of these dangerous people from doing permanent damage to this country and to the future of this generation — and generations yet unborn.

Control of Congress has probably never mattered more than in this election, simply because of two out-of-control people, one of whom is going to become president of the United States.

We need a Congress that can block dangerous legislative proposals coming from the White House, and block dangerous nominees to the federal courts, including especially the Supreme Court. More than that, we need a Congress that can remove a dangerous president who ignores the law and commits impeachable offenses. Any Congress theoretically can do so, since the House of Representatives has the power to impeach and the Senate then votes on whether to remove the president from office.

However, as we have seen over the past seven years, that theoretical power means nothing, if neither House of Congress has the incentives and the guts to use the power they have.

Barack Obama has repeatedly exceeded the powers of his office, disregarding laws passed by Congress, and making in effect a unilateral treaty with Iran, exempting it from American sanctions for building nuclear bombs.

Just by not calling it a treaty, Obama has ignored the Constitution’s requirement that all treaties be made only with Senate approval. Yet there has never been a treaty with more far-reaching — and potentially fatal — consequences than this unilateral presidential agreement with a foreign country.

Yet who was going to impeach “the first black president,” with the media ready to go ballistic if they tried?

With no credible threat of impeachment, neither of this year’s candidates for president will have any deterrent to indulging their already demonstrated headstrong disregard of anything other than their own interests and their own egos.

Not only does this mean that we have a duty to vote for Congress, even if we don’t have the stomach to vote for either presidential candidate, it also means that we need to decide what kind of Congress we want, in light of the high stakes.

We need to ask which of our local candidates for the House of Representatives, and which of our statewide candidates for the Senate, is someone with the character and the guts to remove a president from office.

Don’t try to hide behind the lame excuse that “They’re all the same.”

Let’s not forget that President Richard Nixon resigned for a reason. That reason was that Senator Barry Goldwater led a delegation of Republican senators to the White House to inform Republican President Nixon that they would not support him in the Senate if the House of Representatives impeached him.

We know it can be done, because it already has been done.

The real question now is: What kind of voters are we? Those who ask “What can I do, I am only one little person?” are just copping out.

“We the People” are not only the first three words of the Constitution, it is where the Constitution put the ultimate power to make or break any politician. What can you do? Everything.

If you can’t be bothered, then be honest enough to say, “I can’t be bothered.” But don’t cop out with a lame excuse. Too many other people’s fate depends on whether you do your duty.

Painful as it may be to realize that we are reduced to considering the impeachability of a presidential candidate, that is a reality that will not go away just because we don’t like it.

How impeachable is Hillary Clinton? Since she would be “the first woman president,” any criticism of her, much less any impeachment, would bring loud howls from the media across the country that ugly sexist bias was behind any opposition to anything she did — no matter how awful. Hillary in the White House would have a blank check, and she would not hesitate to use it.

Donald Trump has no such exemption. Neither the media nor congressional Republicans would automatically spring to his defense if he overstepped the line. His impeachability may be his most important asset in a year of painful choices.

— Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. His website is tsowell.com. © 2016 Creators Syndicate Inc.

Thomas SowellThomas Sowell is an American economist, social theorist, political philosopher, and author, whose books include Basic Economics. He is currently senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University.

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