Impeachment = Turnout?

05/25/2011 11:50 am ET
  • Steve Cobble Co-founder,; antiwar activist; political strategist

Those of us who co-founded have long pushed for some sort of "accountability" for the Bush Administration's lies about the war--from hearings to censure to impeachment. Legally and morally, George W. betrayed his oath of office; he has earned impeachment.

Now that another Downing Street Memo has surfaced, perhaps even the MSM will want to inquire. If validated, it makes a pretty damning case for impeaching both Bush & Blair.

The initial response when we bring up the idea, though, is: how are we ever going to impeach Bush when the Republicans control everything in Washington? Precisely. That's exactly the point.

By campaigning on impeachment, candidates would be able to give millions of frustrated voters a positive reason to go to the polls. If candidates discover what we have discovered at hearings and town halls, and what our so-far-barely-reported polling has revealed, accountability/impeachment could be a big turnout issue.
Why? It gives a clear answer to the question, why bother to elect a Democratic House & Senate.

At the moment, Democrats lead in the generic House polling, but it's all because the Republicans have been so incredibly corrupt and incompetent that only their faithful cult members still believe in them.

The problem is, mid-term elections are lower turnout elections, and the Democratic base is incredibly frustrated at the national party, which looks uncaring (no Katrina response, no mine safety initiative); ineffectual (W & Rove steamrolling top Dems on the illegal spying, inability to block budget cuts on students and poor people, weak lobbying reforms instead of full public financing); and lacking in principles (the pathetic dance on Roberts & Alito).

By running on impeachment, or at least investigations with subpoena powers, candidates can make it clear to voters that there is an important, meaningful reason to go vote in November.

Democratic leaders should not reject this idea out of hand. Not only is it morally and legally the right response--it may be a smart base turnout strategy as well.