The percentage of Americans favoring impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney is approaching the percentage who favored impeachment of President Nixon in 1973-74.Public opinion has reached this high level even before Congress has started any impeachment investigation of the Bush-Cheney administration. The public is way ahead of Congress, suggesting that it is time for the U.S. House of Representatives to move forward with the impeachment process.
In October 1973, a Gallup Poll results showed only 28 percent favored Nixon's impeachment and removal from office. That was after a summer of well-publicized Senate Watergate Committee hearings.
Just nine months later, the day before Nixon resigned, nearly two-thirds of Americans believed there was enough evidence for an impeachment trial, and 55 percent thought Nixon should be removed from office.
That is how drastically opinion shifted once Congress acted and revealed the full extent of Nixon's abuses of power.
Now, without any impeachment investigation by Congress, we already see the public's desire for impeachment action approaching the level that led to Nixon's departure from office.
Now, 55 percent of Americans believe that "President Bush has abused his powers as president, which rise to the level of impeachable offenses under the Constitution," and 34 percent believe he should be removed from office.
For Vice President Cheney, 52 percent believe he committed impeachable offenses, and 43 percent believe he should be removed.
Perhaps most telling is that 64 percent of Americans believe that President Bush has abused his powers, and 70 percent believe that Cheney has done so. Polling was conducted by American Research Group Inc., on Nov. 9-12.
Maine people feel much the same way. According to a recent poll by Critical Insights Inc., 40 percent of Maine adults say they favor "the U.S. House of Representatives beginning impeachment proceedings against Vice President Cheney," and 38 percent against President Bush.
Not surprisingly, Maine Republicans and Democrats differ substantially on this matter. Among Maine Democrats, 58 percent favor impeachment proceedings against Cheney, and 54 percent against Bush.
One in six Maine Republicans favors impeachment proceedings against Cheney, and one in eight against Bush.
Maine independents are about evenly split on the impeachment of both Bush and Cheney.
By any historic gauge, the nation clearly believes that we have a major problem with our president and vice president, although the Democrats in control of Congress have refused to even start an impeachment investigation. They are dismissing the sizable portion of citizens calling for Congress to act as the Constitution directed to keep presidential power under control.
In Maine, as well as across the country, The Constitution grants Tom Allen, Mike Michaud and Congress the tool of impeachment to address the problem that a majority of Americans now recognize. This impeachment tool is designed to keep our rulers' power in check - to prevent drifting into a situation of absolute power by an individual or a small controlling group.
Impeachment is the tool being demanded by 43 percent of Americans who not only recognize the problem, but even call for the drastic action of removing Cheney from office.
House Democratic leadership is acting in a timid and irresponsibly political fashion. Likely, they want to keep the Republican executives in power and all Republican politicians "on the ropes" until the 2008 elections. Or perhaps they misguidedly believe that there are more important activities for Congress than heeding this historically strong demand to address these obvious abuses.
Whatever the motivation, Democratic congressional leaders continue to shirk their oaths of office by allowing the executive branch to ignore laws and plan expanded warfare without congressional authorization.
Public opinion and Constitutional responsibility are commanding congressional Democrats Tom Allen and Mike Michaud as strongly as in Nixon's day.
Will they recognize the strength of public sentiment and the dire condition of our nation and take the required corrective action of impeachment investigation? Or will they choose to ignore the call and allow present and future presidents to control the people and their representatives - an authoritarian power that the Constitution directed Congress to prohibit?
John Kaminski is a Topsham resident and chairman of Maine Lawyers for Democracy and spokesperson for The North East Impeachment Coalition. Gary Higginbottom is one of the founders of the Maine Campaign to Impeach.