Scrutiny is Still an Option
Tuesday, April 4th, 2006
By Dan DeWalt / Author of a successful town resolution calling for the impeachment of President Bush.
On March 7, 2006 townspeople crowded into the 19th-century Union Hall in Newfane, Vermont for their annual town meeting -- one of America's last expressions of direct democracy. As the wood stove warmed the old hall, the voters dealt with town matters and then turned to a resolution of national importance. When the debate ended, the Newfane citizens overwhelmingly passed a resolution calling for the United States Congress to initiate impeachment proceedings against President George W. Bush -- a vote also passed by four other Vermont towns that day.
Now as calls for impeachment begin to sound across America, some, especially those in the elite media establishment, belittle our efforts, writing them off as merely political, spurious or at best premature. They ask, what right do small Vermont towns have to weigh in on a question of such magnitude? Who are we to cast our sights beyond the demands of our roads, bridges or annual school budget?
As a Vermont citizen and a Newfane Town Selectman, I’d like to respond.
Vermonters are asking a different set of questions. We see boys and girls, men and women from across our state, falling one by one, coming home to somber burials or partial rehabilitation. We see that the torture of captives has become official administration policy, and as a result our nation is now reviled and despised across the globe. We see an administration that spies upon our Quaker pacifists in the name of fighting "terror." We see a crumbling national infrastructure, inept and under-equipped to respond to natural disasters, and heavier financial burdens placed upon those who can least afford it, all because of the hundreds of billions of dollars being drained by this administration’s failing effort to place its crusading imprint upon an unwilling people who had nothing to do with the terrorism that has been visited upon us.
A growing number of patriotic Americans from coast to coast have joined Vermonters in asking: If it's not a crime to lie to the nation about Iraq's ties to 9/11, and use those lies to instigate a war, contrary to international law, what is? If warrant less wiretaps of Americans, in direct violation of the FISA Act of 1978, is not a crime, what is? If breaking our treaty obligations with respect to the treatment of military and civilian prisoners — obligations which, according to our Constitution, are to be the supreme law of the land — is not a crime, what is?
We ask how any American loyal to the Constitution and the laws that make us a nation could not call for a complete congressional investigation into the alleged crimes of this administration? How can any American with a sense of morality, anyone who professes to adhere to religious principles, not insist that the deceit and the violence must cease?
Every day, our moral standing in the eyes of the world is further debased. Every day that we acquiesce to these actions of our government, we debase ourselves and make ourselves unfit to be called Americans.
The worst failing of any nation is when its citizens no longer scrutinize their government. Today, whether because of apathy, distraction or exhaustion, we are not paying attention. It will be at our peril if our awakening comes only after the government has consolidated its hold on power, and we find that scrutiny is no longer an option.
Dan DeWalt is a woodworker and select board member in the town of Newfane, Vermont, and the author of a successful town resolution calling for the impeachment of President Bush.