Over the next two months, you will hear two subjects discussed endlessly in political circles and among the professional punditry class, and these two are intertwined in a manner we could never have imagined prior to last week’s midterm election. The two words are Immigration and Impeachment.
Let’s start with immigration. It is only a matter of time before President Obama announces his executive action which will legalize millions (perhaps tens of millions?) of immigrants who have entered the United States without permission and wish to remain in the country. The vast majority of these people are good, hard-working folks who pay their taxes, support their families, and contribute to the American economy in ways most of us can only imagine. They do jobs most native-born Americans would never dream of doing. Jobs such as picking and processing fruits and vegetables, doing the prep cooking and cleaning in restaurants across the country, dangerous construction trades that pay little but demand non-stop effort, and thousands of other menial jobs Americans either cannot or will not lower themselves to do. Many of the immigrants the President seeks to give full legal protection to are the children of migrants who have come to the United States seeking a better life for themselves and their children. Who among us would not do the same if our places were reversed? Immigration reform, we can all agree, is long overdue and sorely needed. But when the President acts, and if his action is particularly sweeping, you will hear Republicans raise the specter of the other “I word.
Which brings us to impeachment. Prominent members of the GOP have already floated a trial balloon which goes something like this: if President Obama goes too far (and they will be the sole deciders of what “too far” constitutes), then articles of impeachment may have to be drawn up in the House of Representatives and presented to the Senate for trial. Imagine it: impeaching the President for doing his job, and doing a job that the Congress has refused to do with their continual inaction on the issue of immigration. Would the GOP actually go so far as to draw up and vote on such specious charges? Yes, I believe they would. And I believe there is a better than 50 percent chance they will. The reason is simple: Republicans consider President Obama to be an “illegitimate” holder of the highest office in the land, despite his election by wide margins in both 2008 and 2012. To take such action would be politically self-destructive for the GOP, but they have repeatedly proven that they are proud to engage in such ignorant displays of bravado. If you doubt this, just look at the government shutdown and their continual threats to pass on raising the national debt ceiling.
Keep your eyes and ears open and alert during the last part of this year. The fireworks in Washington have only begun. And when the smoke clears, we may be facing a genuine Constitutional crisis created at the behest of men and women whose actions are paid for by corporate America and the extreme Right wing of an already far Right political party.