See Disclaimer. Also published in the Hood River News (Another Voice: “To Walden: Raise your voice in support of impeachment,” Nov 13, 2019); see my comment on the Editor’s chosen headline.
Dear Congressman Walden (R-OR2):
Impeaching a president is an extraordinary measure, to be considered only under very exceptional circumstances. With an impeachment inquiry in progress, likely to be followed by a trial on the Senate, the weeks and months ahead will be uniquely painful and divisive. The consequences to country and world are unpredictable, but it is no surprise that we came to this.
I hold you unequivocally responsible—with the president and your Republican colleagues in Congress—for this national tragedy. Unlike the president’s, your responsibility comes from omission. Please let me explain.
Shocking as the results were, the 2016 election gave the president a mandate to govern. With majorities in the House and Senate, he had the opportunity to create and implement a productive vision for the country.
A year into his term, though, it was readily apparent that Mr. Trump was dramatically failing to discharge his duties as President. It went beyond politics, to the very roots of our democracy. When I expressed this opinion in an open letter to you, on January 2018, I was only one of the many Americans who recognized the problem. I encouraged you to take a stand: “You too can be a part of the solution, Mr. Walden, by becoming a voice of strong and reasoned opposition to an unfit President and by fostering truly bipartisan legislation.”
You chose to do nothing. Emboldened by your passivity, and that of your colleagues, the president kept pushing progressively harder on the boundaries of decency and—possibly—law.
The 2018 elections proved that Americans were paying attention. Republicans lost the majority in the House, and—while you were re-elected in a safely red district—you lost your committee chairmanship and part of your political clout. I hoped then that you would adopt a more bipartisan posture, and you showed occasional, tantalizing flashes of that spirit. Still, where it counted, you continued to support an alarmingly unfit president.
There was a time when a House censure could have sent a clear signal to the president, that he needed to moderate his behavior and put country above party and personal interests. Opportunities abounded. One was when the president, via Twitter, told four congresswomen to go back to the countries they came from. I again was not alone in considering such behavior unacceptable, when I asked you to “work, within your party and across the aisle, to introduce a House motion of censure to the president” (July 2019).
Once more, you chose to do nothing—even if censure would have been much less traumatic to the country than an already predictable impeachment.
The spectrum of impeachment was, by then, clearly in the air. The Mueller report had concluded that Russia interfered in the 2016 elections, and planned to also do so in elections ahead. By refusing to acknowledge those findings, and similar findings by US Intelligence agencies—the president was putting the essence of our Democratic Republic in danger.
Did that egregious omission, and other actions of the president. raise to the level of impeachable offenses? The country deserved to know. When I asked you to call for a bipartisan impeachment inquiry (June 2019), I was hoping the House could send two powerful messages: (1) America stands strong and able to defend its sovereignty and principles, and (2) In America, all are entitled to due process but no one is above the law.
You clearly disagreed, and did nothing. Perhaps that silence convinced the president that Congress had no desire or will power to fulfill its duty of oversight of the Executive Branch.
The president had thus no reason, on July 25, to not make a deeply disturbing call to the Ukraine president, where he seemingly offered to trade military aid (already approved by Congress!) for dirt on internal political opponents. And he had no reason to fear releasing partial notes on the call. Or to be embarrassed by saying that the call had been perfect. Or even to not call publicly for the unmasking of the (federally protected) whistleblower whose complaint precipitated the crisis. Or to refrain from obstructing House-requested testimonies by significant witnesses.
I realize that the call itself was just the tip of the iceberg, as the ongoing impeachment inquiry, still in its infancy, is showing. But it seemingly took that call to break the resistance of Speaker Pelosi and other Democrats to start an impeachment inquiry—even without bipartisan support. The call is thus an important symbol.
A symbol of your failure, Sir, to influence and moderate an unfit president. Your failure to protect the country from further, deep, divides. Your failure to uphold the Constitution. What a heavy burden to retire with.
I harbor little hope that you will take advantage of your next, and perhaps last, opportunity, to contribute constructively to the present crisis. But you still can. And you should, for your country, your district, and your legacy.
Congressman, please raise your voice in bipartisan support of the ongoing impeachment inquiry. Use your influence to let a Constitutionally defined process take its course, unimpeded by obstruction from the president and the Republican Party. Learn what has to be learned, with an open mind. And vote on the eventual impeachment articles based on evidence, not disingenuous political posturing.
— Antonio Baptista
Summary of the in-text links, in order of appearance:
- Open letter to a Republican congressman (January 2019)
- Can a weakened Walden become part of the solution (December 2018)
- Congressman Walden: Please condemn presidential bigotry, in the spirit of House Resolution 183 (July 2019)
- Please call for an impeachment inquiry, Congressman Walden (June 2019)
- Please remember your Oath of Office, Congressman Walden (October 2019)
- How will we remember you, Mr. Walden (October 2019)
Wow, Antonio!! Your words and details are exquisite!! Excellent!! Have you thought of sending your letter to The Dalles Chronicle? They also have a “Guest Commentary” that is up to 400 words.
Thank you for taking the time to write such important commentary.
Sincerely, Karen G. Murray
Wow! Just WOW! Your words are so very true and so very serious. I hadn’t thought about the extent of Walden’s blame until reading this. I think you are right on!
LikeLiked by 1 person