Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Open letter to Seattle City Council

Dear fellow public officials in Seattle,

One of your constituents has contacted me and other members of the Chapel Hill Town Council to ask us to encourage you to join us in speaking out as a local political body in favor of impeaching the President. I am happy to do so.

On May 8, we responded to a petition from a group of our citizens, Elders for Peace from a retirement center named Carol Woods, calling for President Bush's impeachment. We acted on it in real time and unanimously. It's not the first time the Council has taken a stand on issues of national concern over which we in fact have no direct control, and I expect it won't be the last.

Why? Because in the words of one of our Elders, "You are the closest governmental body to the people." Who else can they turn to if not us? Washington is very, very far away.

The Chapel Hill Herald thinks we did the right thing:

They believed -- as we do -- that it is wholly appropriate for local officials, for a local community, to take a stand on an issue as important as impeachment and the conduct of a president. They believed -- as we do -- that even small communities far away from the centers of power have not just the right, but the obligation to stand up when they believe there is injustice.

Our distinguished constitutional law professor-emeritus Dan Pollitt, writing in this week's Independent Weekly, offers a valuable history lesson on prior impeachment proceedings. He too believes that we in the grass roots are "obligated to speak out":

The greatest danger to democracy lies in an inert populace. One person throwing pebbles can make ripples. But if a second and third person join in, the pond is full of waves, maybe breakers. That is the theory and hope of democracy.

I encourage you to listen to your constituents, consult your own conscience, and, if you are so moved, to join us in roiling the waters.

No comments: