Last week, as many as 1 million Chileans poured into the streets of Santiago demanding that President Sebastian Pinera step down and that someone confect a new constitution for the country that a generation ago was saved from communism by the dictator Augusto Pinochet.
Irving Kristol, the wise 20th-century political commentator, was given to saying that the problem with South America was that its leaders could not govern themselves. The Latin Americans now swarming over our southern border and rampaging through the streets of Santiago are still more evidence of Kristol's wisdom.
A former Chilean government minister, Sergio Bitar, who is trying to bring the political parties together in Chile, last week expressed his frustration, saying "there's no political or social rationality" for it. "It's a sickness of destruction," he explained. It seems that way to me, Mr. Bitar, but now the colossus to the north is on a similar path.
The "Squad" — whose synonyms, for instance, gang or mob, bring to mind fascism — and the foul-mouthed politicians seeking the Democratic nomination want our fairly elected president removed from office one year before the citizenry holds another election. Moreover, they are very impatient with the Constitution that has governed our country for more than 200 years. Already, Congressgirl Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has denounced the Electoral College as a "scam." I think she thinks its tuition is exorbitant.
Peter J. Wallison, one of the most astute political observers today, has written that if the Squad and the Democrats have their way and Trump is impeached — even if he is acquitted — the strength of the presidency and the steadiness and reliability of our government are finished. If this impeachment succeeds, we are on our way to becoming a country with the fixity of South American countries.
Wallison writes, "If Congress could remove a president from office — in other words, overturn an election — for insubstantial reasons, it will destroy the stability of the presidential office in the future. Any time that Congress is controlled by an opposing political party, the president will be in danger of impeachment for some minor offense."
The Constitution requires that the president commit "Treason, Bribery, or other High Crimes and Misdemeanors" to be impeached. An impeachable act has to be equivalent to treason or bribery or other high crimes or misdemeanors. For the duly elected president to talk to a foreign leader in the course of a wide-ranging conversation about foreign aid in July and do nothing to stop that foreign aid shipment in September is not a high crime. It might be a sign of lapsed judgment, especially when the president knows that other White House staffers of questionable loyalty are listening in on the phone call. But it is not a crime.
Yet, such heretofore minor lapses are going to hamstring our presidents for years to come. It will be a new day for America. Get used to the tumult of the last few years to continue. It is a great irony that the Democratic Party, the party that has long favored a strong president capable of taking on powerful enemies of the people — the giant corporations, the healthcare industry, the National Rifle Association! — in the future will be hampered by fears of impeachment threats. Either that or our presidents will be met by riots in the street when they want to do the really grand thing. And the Republican Party — what will it favor? Probably the strong chief executive.
If this impeachment comes about, we are about to see the parties change their roles: the Democrats for an easily impeached president and the Republicans for a strong president. Change is in the air.
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