Nadir’s Note:  I’m the “young artist” Shea Howell refers to in this editorial from The Michigan Citizen.“

By Shea Howell
Special to The Michigan Ctiizen

I first met Congressmen John Conyers in the early 1970s at a convention of the National Committee to End Racism and Political Repression. Representative Conyers welcomed Angela Davis, recently acquitted of murder charges, to Detroit. He praised her courage and brilliance in the struggle for liberation.

Since that long ago day, I have always been proud to have John Conyers as my Congressman. I knew he could be counted on to be on the right side of any issue. Until now.

Last Saturday Representative Conyers decided to attend the Gathering for Justice, City of Hope event at Youthville. He walked into the room quietly just as a young local artist was announcing Change the Music: "an art festival and political forum for local organizers working to keep pressure on Congress to hold the Bush administration accountable for its crimes.” As the young artist spoke passionately about the importance of pressuring Congressmen Conyers to impeach Bush, Conyers entered and took a seat directly across from him.

For a while Conyers didn’t say anything, but after a painful comment by a young man who felt there was little in the city that made his life worthwhile, Conyers rose. At first he tried to talk only about change in the city, but as calls to “Impeach Bush” increased, Conyers said, “You want me to talk about impeachment? All right, I will.” He then explained that he knew more about impeachment than anyone in Congress and, by implication, anyone in the room.

Conyers went on to explain that it was a simple matter of real politics. We don’t have the votes, we can’t win, so why try? Then he asked “Had we bothered to consider who would replace Bush if he were impeached? Did we really want Dick Cheney as president?” Finally, he said that he couldn’t do everything. So the real choice was “Did we want to impeach Bush or did we want him to get a reparations bill through Congress?” With that he sat down and the meeting moved on, with continuing but scattered calls for impeachment.

It was very sad. Conyers, a man who for so many decades has voiced the popular will to make change possible, is now concerned only with winning. He has forgotten that impeachment is a constitutional obligation, designed to educate the public, the current president and all future presidents on the importance of the rule of law. He played one of the lowest tricks in politics, encouraging economic self-interest at the expense of the soul of the country.

Conyers knows better.

In August of 2004 he released a report called, The Constitution in Crisis. Some 350 pages in length and supported by more than 1,400 footnotes, it compiles the accumulated evidence at that point that the Bush Administration has “thumbed its nose at our nation’s laws, and the Constitution itself. Approximately 26 laws and regulations may have been violated by this Administration’s misconduct.”

He concluded, “Our Constitution established a tri-partite system of government, with the notion that each branch of government would act as a check on the other two. Unfortunately, for the last six years, the Republicans in Congress have largely viewed themselves as defenders of the Bush Administration, instead of a vital check on overreaching by the Executive Branch. By doing so, I believe they have acted to the detriment of our Constitutional form of government.”

Conyers seems to have forgotten that the point of political power is to use it. At one of the most critical moments in the history of our country, he is on the wrong side. Every one of us who cares about the future should let him know what we think.


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