New York's Rep. Hakeem Jeffries insisted they were not impeaching to divide, but to "clarify" the fact that no one is above the law.
December 12, 2019

The Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee are doing democracy proud in their five-minute arguments during the debate on impeachment. While the GOP reps yell and speed-lie their way through this, throwing their arms and spittle about in faux outrage over "division" and "fairness" (HA), Democrats are making their arguments with facts, somberness, and care.

One of the absolute stars that shone in yesterday's debate was New York's Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, who crafted an oratory both historical and relatable, and managed to bring the issues into focus with, dare I say it? At risk of plagiarizing, clarity.

Here are some of the highlights from the transcript:

REP. JEFFRIES: We do not take this step to divide. Though some will cynically argue the impeachment of this president will further divide an already fractured union. But there is a difference between division and clarification. Slavery once divided the nation. But emancipators rose up to clarify that all men are created equally. Suffrage once divided the nation, but women rose up to clarify that all voices must be heard in our democracy. Jim Crow once divided the nation, but civil rights champions rose up to clarify that all are entitled to equal protection under the law. We do not take this step to divide. And at this moment, this committee can rise up to clarify that under the Constitution, here in America, no one is above the law.

Rep. Jeffries then invoked Ronald Reagan to help answer why it mattered so very much — why we should care that Trump (a) pressured a foreign government to target an American citizen for his own political gain, and (b) held back nearly $400 million in desperately needed military aid to get his "deliverable." The answer, clarified Reagan, was about liberty. Freedom.

REP. JEFFRIES: America is the leader of the free world. We play that role because it is in the best interests of the national security of the United States. We play that role because we believe in liberty and justice for all. We play that role because freedom is in our DNA. Freedom from oppression. Freedom from tyranny, freedom from abuse of power, freedom is in our DNA. What role should this committee play in defending freedom? The House is a separate and co-equal branch of government. We don't work for this president or any president. We work for the American people. We have a constitutional responsibility to serve as a check and balance on an out of control Executive branch. That is not the Democratic party playbook. That is the playbook in a democratic republic.

Personally, I think Rep. Jeffries is being exceedingly generous in his estimation of our nation's DNA, and that grace is a gift. Because based on the examples he cited, and the history that followed right up until the present, it seems clear to me for all the talk of liberty in our nation's official rhetoric, our dominant genes are still genes of oppression. When the genes of freedom and liberty show themselves, they are probably the recessive ones coming to the fore because of lucky happenstance. His message comes through loud and clear, though, and it is exactly the right one for the argument that needs making at this moment in history.

Rep. Jeffries ended his speech as he began it, quoting the magnificent farewell address of our first president, George Washington:

"The Constitution is sacredly obligatory upon all."

Keep going, Dems. We are with you.

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