Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Thirty Four Senators

Constitution of the United States of America

Article I, Section 2, Clause 5

The House of Representatives shall chuse their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.

Article I, Section 3, Clause 1

The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, chosen by the Legislature thereof for six Years; and each Senator shall have one Vote.

Article I, Section 3, Clause 6

The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present.

Article II Section. 4.

The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.

What am I trying to point out here? Well in the event the President violates the law, in a way worthy of being removed from office, the procedure is clear and constitutionally defined. The House passes an article of impeachment and passes the matter to the Senate for trial, wherein two thirds of the Senators, Sixty Seven, are required to convict the President and remove him from office. This also means that if Thirty Four Senators find the President innocent, he is not removed from office. 
Well these rules were written, fairly speaking, before caucuses had really started in earnest, and prior to political parties existing in the US at all. Long before the idea of party loyalty, and centuries before the concept of ends justify all means progressivism. A certain honor is expected amongst the Senators, which, while it might have been a valid expectation in the days of State Appointed Senators of the Founders era of Statesmen, is a completely invalid expectation in the modern era of popularly elected Senators.
So the modern world of US politics begs the question: What if, the President of the United States, had sufficiently ideologically rigid proponents in the Senate bound either by blind loyalty or sharing a common ideology that disrespects Constitutional limitations to federal power, such that under no circumstance they would vote to remove the President from office?

What do you have then? You have a President who wields executive authority, writing new law by executive order, usurping the power of the other branches of government without any check to that power. With the last political means to hold a tyrant in check effectively neutralized. What do we the American people do then? Faced with a de-facto dictator?
What if understanding that impeachment was impossible, the House Speaker deliberately avoided confrontation, and simply gave in on any issue to avoid precipitating the obvious Constitutional Crisis in favor of feeding a quieter one; Where the same outcomes happen with mere lip service paid to the separation of power.  A cowardly speaker, confronted with a would be tyrant, who gets whatever he wants. What do we do then America? As the tyrant gathers power? All done with totalitarian supporters in both houses of Congress proclaiming “Of course this is Constitutional.”
Recent events make this more than a simply rhetorical question. The President faced with a split congress has already abused the power of executive order without reprimand from Congress. That same President when faced with a statutory imposed debt limit has threatened to ignore Congress and simply mint the needed coinage, or simply keep spending and borrowing regardless of Congressional will. That same President pre-threatened to use executive order to impose his will if Congress refused to come to heel and enact his wishes on gun control.
This is the question that has been burning in my mind for a number of days. Do we have, a would be tyrant elected as President, who cares not about his oath, and fundamentally doesn’t believe in a Constitutional Federal Republic? Do we have a cowardly speaker who would not protect his own branch of government from usurpation if that means risking a crisis? And most important of all, does that President have thirty four Senators, true believers, who would not see him be brought down, no matter what he does or what happens? If so, then what? What do we do then America?