This oped was published in the August 26, 2019 San Francisco Chronicle
I was one of the protesters who disrupted a ceremony honoring Nancy Pelosi in San Francisco last week. Here’s why.
The occupant of the White House is inciting violence against people of color, and his acolytes have responded by killing people in Charlottesville, Pittsburgh and El Paso. He is separating families at the border, losing their children and awarding contracts to his supporters to build concentration camps.
Foreign powers are enriching him and his family as he alienates long-standing allies and engages with dictators.
Sixteen women have come forward with credible accusations that he sexually harassed or assaulted them.
President Trump is treacherous and illegitimate, having attained his position with the assistance of an enemy of the United States. In investigating Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, Special Counsel Robert Mueller found a sufficient factual and legal basis for a congressional investigation of obstruction of justice by the president.
Our democracy is ablaze before our eyes, and Democrats won the House in 2018 promising to do something about it.
So what is the most powerful woman in America, the House speaker, doing? Cheerily remarking over brunch to Maureen Dowd that, “If the left doesn’t think I’m left enough, so be it.” This is what merited the “lifetime achievement award” given to Pelosi on Wednesday at the San Francisco Democrats’ “Heart of the Resistance” celebration?
Those attending the event at $300 a head complained about the protesters outside demanding impeachment. After local officials gave speeches patting themselves on the back for welcoming undocumented immigrants, we watched a video extolling Pelosi for her sarcastic clap during Trump’s 2019 State of the Union address and her triumphant emergence from shutdown negotiations at the White House in 2018.
The first person to mention that people were dying was activist Thaís Marques, who stood on her chair and yelled at Pelosi that “we can’t wait. My community is under attack.” Attendees who moments before applauded indicating their support for undocumented immigrants quickly tried to silence Marques so Pelosi could go on.
The speaker often asserts that no one is above the law. If that’s true, it’s her job to enforce it. That is what the Constitution says and what San Franciscans elected her to do. And if she thinks the American people don’t understand the necessity of impeachment, it’s her job to explain it to them.
Pelosi is not only failing to fulfill her moral and constitutional responsibilities, but also making a huge political error that will make Trump’s re-election more likely.
Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro put it well during last month’s debate: “What’s going to happen in … 2020, if they don’t impeach him, is he going to say, ‘You see. You see. The Democrats didn’t go after me on impeachment. And you know why? Because I didn’t do anything wrong.’”
Conversely, if the House does impeach the president and the Senate acquits him, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell can be held responsible. We’ll be able to say, “They impeached him in the House, but his friend Moscow Mitch let him off the hook.”
People are dying, and our democracy is dying. We can’t risk Trump’s re-election, and we can’t wait. Impeach the president now.
Karen Fleshman is an attorney and activist and the founder of Racy Conversations, a workshop facilitation company.