November 4, 2006

Democracy at Work

With all the talk being bandied about concerning impeachment, I was put in mind of something I read years ago:
It was a piece on Nixon’s resignation. I don’t remember who wrote it—so I can’t attribute it—sorry.
It seems this journalist bundled his two young children into the back seat of his car and drove to an area overlooking the White House lawn.

He looked around himself at the peaceful street.
He chatted with his children as he kept an eye on the scene below.
He noted the helicopter as it came into view and settled on the grass.
After a pretty long wait he saw people emerge from the White House and walk to the helicopter. The rotors began to turn, it lifted and set off to take the disgraced President away to the airport to begin his journey home.

And he marveled.
Our government had just changed hands.
It had been done quietly.
Probably, most people were in their homes or places of business watching the events unfold on TV.
There was no disorder.
No people with guns were running in the streets.
There were no screams.
It was a sad day—not a terrifying one.

He turned in his seat to explain to his children what an extraordinary event this was.
Their eyes were closed.
The government had just changed hands and small children didn’t know anything unusual was occurring. They felt secure enough to fall asleep.
And, that was the largest blessing of all.
I may have had the same misgivings in 1974—I don’t remember.
But, given the nature of this administration, I’m not certain an impeachment today would result in the same outcome Nixon’s did.
Today’s administration is worse. It is even more greedy, more power-hungry than Nixon’s was.
Its crimes, to date, are even worse.

If Bush were to go, Cheney would have to go, too. In fact, I have no idea how far down the line of succession we would have to descend to find someone whose hands are clean. And, I’m not sure our country would survive such a cleansing with anything nearing the equanimity as occurred back then.

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