by Andrew I. Fillat
The recent sad spectacle of the impeachment hearings in the House of Representatives is but the latest example of the disdain the political Left shows for both substance and process in a quest for power. If the current crop of Democratic presidential hopefuls is any indication, that power will be exercised by pursuing divisive and destructive policies that will hurt America for generations. But excoriating those policies will require volumes best authored elsewhere.
Consider first the impeachment circus. Whether the “high crime” is called quid pro quo, extortion, or bribery, the premise is fundamentally flawed. Traditionally and in legal precedent, bribery refers to somebody advancing their pecuniary interests by using their position or influence in a clearly coercive manner. Extortion is using a threat to achieve financial gain or contractual leverage by coercion when the other party is unwilling to deal.
In the case before the House, President Trump is accused of using his position for personal political gain. If this were a standard for “bribery” or “extortion,” 435 representatives, 100 senators, and innumerable other lesser political figures deserve to be in prison. It is impossible to argue that the president has any pecuniary interest in Ukraine or military aid to that country (unlike, say, Hunter Biden).
In addition, though impeachment and trial are analogous to a criminal indictment and trial, it is governed only by politics and a very limited outline in the Constitution. Nevertheless, the presence of the two steps strongly suggests that an acceptable process should at least parallel the court system.
Clearly, the Democrats have structured their impeachment in ways that are strongly biased against the president: suppression of opposing witnesses; sequestration of the initiating accuser and much testimony given in private; and the use of selective leaks to the press to tailor the narrative.
Unlike in a criminal case where grand jury secrecy protects innocent people from association with illegal behavior or jeopardy and relies on concurrence from ordinary citizens, the nature of impeachment demands transparency to assure political accountability. The public has no role, thus emphasizing the need for an open process.
Private Interests Galore
As a counterargument to the accusations, there are recent examples of U.S. presidents who have advanced their political interests or “abused” their power at the expense of the public or a rival.
President Obama usurped the FDA review and delayed approval of a genetically engineered, fast-growing salmon to placate anti-GMO voters in swing states. He likewise hijacked the “internet neutrality” regulatory process. Before 9/11, President Clinton ignored telephone calls to authorize a military strike on Osama bin Laden because he was playing golf with Vernon Jordan (a prominent supporter). One need not be reminded about the consequences that might have avoided.
It is a valid point that President Trump’s political interest was indirectly about Joe Biden, a potential rival. But the facts strongly suggest that Hunter Biden was recruited to Burisma for naked political influence, and then-Vice President Biden inserted himself into the fray by demanding that a prosecutor be fired as an explicit condition for foreign aid. So, a request to include the Biden-Burisma relationship as part of investigating corruption is hardly baseless.
Note that no one has argued there was no connection between aid and the request for an investigation. Why? Because this kind of behavior is par for the course of advancing political interests using levers of power. A connection is irrelevant.
The problem with the current wave of Democrats and their constituency goes far deeper than this farce. In the pursuit of political power, they are advancing policies that are inimical to American interests. They have taken to dizzying heights the behavior they accuse President Trump of exhibiting.
Example one: The citizens of this country have a basic right to have the laws of the land enforced. By demonizing the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service and outright defying their authority, Democratic officeholders have put “woke” political stances ahead of the rule of law; they thus ignore and supersede the interests of a substantial part of their constituencies.
By refusing to correct inconsistencies in immigration laws through the legislative process, they are subjecting innocent citizens and immigrants to torturous and disruptive processes and in some cases, violence. Why? To placate the vocal elements of their base rather than to serve the public good.
So Much for the Public Interest
Example two: Rank-and-file progressives see no problem in fascist tactics to suppress speech with which they disagree. Many universities have institutionalized this mindset, which is more familiar to Pyongyang than Poughkeepsie. But this will not lead America to a future with independent thinkers and vigorous open debate where it matters.
Example three: Blatant racism on the Left is the order of the day in progressive circles. It is no longer acceptable to judge people based on their achievements and character; the color of their skin and their race of origin must dominate how people are treated. “White privilege” is a thinly veiled form of that racism; it doesn’t matter what obstacles a Caucasian person has overcome because their obstacles cannot possibly compare to those of people of color. The effect of this mindset is to slice and dice our society rather than unite it. It is also deeply unfair.
Example four: The progressive ideology of climate change has overtaken climate science and has often suppressed productive responses. In many cases, special interests have exploited the blind dogma of the left to achieve commercial financial benefit. The public interest has been cast aside. The examples are numerous, but non-cost-effective uses (which not all are) of renewable energy have depleted resources better spent on helping the public. Just ask Pacific Gas and Electric about this.
The impeachment debacle has laid bare by example the shortcomings and self-interest of the Democratic Left. The 2020 election offers an opportunity to begin a repudiation of their behavior, especially at the congressional level. Let’s hope for America’s sake there is a silent majority ready and willing to be conscripted in this righteous cause.
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Andrew I. Fillat spent his career in technology venture capital and information technology companies. He is also the co-inventor of relational databases.
Photo “Dump Trump” by Alisdare Hickson. CC BY-SA 2.0.