No point is of more importance than that the right of impeachment should be continued. Shall any man be above Justice?
-- George Mason, 1787
More than 5,000 people crowded the Sauk County Fairgrounds in Baraboo, Wisconsin, for Fighting Bob Fest, one of the largest gatherings of progressives in the nation. The annual event, which is pulled together by volunteers on a minimal budget, now attracts speakers such as U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, "Democracy Now" host Amy Goodman and Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
The success of Bob Fest serves as a reminder that there is a yearning in America for the sort of community and discourse that was once seen on the Chautauqua circuit, which in the first years of the twentieth century drew William Jennings Bryan, Jane Addams, W.E.B. DuBois and Robert M. "Fighting Bob" La Follette to cities and towns across the country. In those days, as today, the speaker circuit served as a needed alternative to a media that often failed to provide a full and honest portrait of the issues and ideas that matter most.
I was proud to be a part of the Fighting Bob Fest speaker roster, and I was thrilled that, when I brought up the subject of impeaching George Bush and Dick Cheney, the crowd roared its approval.
I will be equally proud to participate this weekend in a similarly well-intentioned and ambitious initiative on the National Mall in Washington: Camp Democracy. Sponsored by dozens of progressive groups from around the country, the almost month-long series of events has brought the anti-war, justice and accountability sentiments of the nation to the nation's capital for Chautauqua-style forums featuring members of Congress, authors and activists.
On Sunday, we'll discuss the subject that the mainstream media loves to ignore: proposals for the impeachment of George W. Bush and members of his administration. Sunday's "Impeachment Encampment," sponsored by the good folks at Democrats.com, will feature a morning panel that includes Marcus Raskin, a member of the special staff of the National Security Council in President Kennedy's Administration, and author of "Liberalism," and co-editor of "In Democracy's Shadow"; Elizabeth de la Vega, former federal prosecutor; Dave Lindorff, author of "The Case for Impeachment" and myself. David Swanson, a cofounder of AfterDowningStreet.org and a brilliant organizer on issues of accountability, will moderate.
In the afternoon, another panel will feature: Elizabeth Holtzman, former congresswoman and co-author of "The Impeachment of George W. Bush"; Ray McGovern, former CIA analyst; author and professor Jennifer Van Bergen; Geoff King, president of Constitution Summer; Michael Avery, president of the National Lawyers Guild. Also present will be Dan DeWalt, the Vermont town selectman who started the grassroots movement to pass local impeachment resolutions last spring will also be present, along with Steve Cobble, the veteran political strategist who has been one of the smartest advocates for accountability.
In this election season, a lot of politicians are avoiding talk of impeachment. They fear a discussion about accountability that ends up at the logical conclusion. But the people have no such fear, as evidenced by the enthusiasm for local and state impeachment resolutions and the healthy discourse that is playing out across the country and, this Sunday, in Washington at Camp Democracy.
* For more on Camp Democracy, visit the website at: http://www.campdemocracy.org/
* John Nichols' new book, The Genius of Impeachment: The Founders' Cure for Royalism (The New Press), will be published in October. Of it, Studs Terkel says: "Never within my nonagenarian memory has the case for impeachment of Bush and his equally crooked confederates been so clearly and fervently offered as John Nichols has done in this book. They are after all our public SERVANTS who have rifled our savings, bled our young, and challenged our sanity. As Tom Paine said 200 years ago to another George, a royal tramp: "Bugger off!"So should we say today. And Nichols has given us the history, the language and the arguments we will need to do so."