After seeing the play “Hamilton” in New York this fall, I have been inspired to read the acclaimed biography of the same name by historian Ron Chernow.
It is from reading the book that I learned that Alexander Hamilton, while a proponent of a strong executive branch, also understood the risks of despotism and tyranny arising from such power – risks that made it imperative to provide the power of impeachment to the legislative branch (Congress).
Chernow himself wrote an essay on the topic just 2 months ago titled “Hamilton pushed for impeachment powers. Trump is what he had in mind.”
Many other scholars have made the same point. As professor of jurisprudence Michael Gerhardt (University of North Carolina) recently put it, “If Congress fails to impeach here, then the impeachment process has lost all meaning, and, along with that, our Constitution’s carefully crafted safeguards against the establishment of a king on American soil. No one, not even the president, is beyond the reach of our Constitution and its laws.”
Trump has been arguing that as president, he is untouchable. According to his thinking, even undertaking an investigation is unlawful. Trump has therefore felt he can act with impunity to subvert national security by bullying a foreign government to do dirty work intended to bolster his reelection prospects. If this is not abuse of power, if this is not corruption, then what is?
I can say that I have never felt more patriotic than during the era of the Trump presidency.
It does not matter to me whether a president is Democrat or Republican when it comes to trying to enlist foreign aid to subvert an election.
It is wrong.
Alexander Hamilton knew it and so do I.
I can only hope as the impeachment process moves forward that a majority in Congress will recognize their awesome duty and put our country first.
Anne Marie Holen