A group of 11 House Republicans introduced five articles of impeachment against Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein Wednesday evening.
The impeachment articles accuse Rosenstein of intentionally withholding documents and information from Congress, failure to comply with congressional subpoenas and abuse of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).
The news reported deserves a standing ovation from voters who support President Trump’s promise to “drain the swamp.” That should include people like me who are skeptical of his sincere commitment to the agenda he espoused during his presidential campaign, but who strongly believe that achieving it is vital to the survival of constitutional self-government in the United States.
I have written continually, however, of Congress’ derelict neglect of its responsibility to oversee the other branches using its constitutional power to impeach and remove malfeasant officers of the U.S. government. The so-called “spoils system” that prevailed during the 19th century allowed this power to remain dormant. Since a general housecleaning could occur after every presidential election, each such election allowed the people themselves to decide when it was needed.
Close elections, which left the winning party in need of some support from members of Congress in the minority, meant that some federal appointments would be determined at the bargaining table, in exchange for that support. People who saw the 2012 movie “Lincoln” should recall that passage of the 13th Amendment offers an example of this bargaining process. However, the move to curtail “spoils system” abuses began with the passage of the Pendleton Act in 1883. It eventually led to a concept of civil service in which federal employees were ostensibly required by law to do their work on a non-partisan basis.
The Christian moral ethos formally required by the founding principles of our nation helped to sustain the expectation that people with positions in the government that represented the nation would maintain at least the outward appearance of good character. That appearance included eschewing personal gain and advantage in service to the public good, much as followers of Christ are expected to discipline their behavior in service to God’s rule.
But throughout our nation’s history, there have been more Machiavellian elements among America’s elites who eschewed or openly despised morality of any kind. They invented an ideology of imaginative reconstructions, which they passed off as science under the name of evolution. The narrative of natural history that resulted permitted them to elevate a Machiavellian “dog eat dog” view of human relations to the status of natural law.
It is a view of natural law unfit for human existence. Human beings exist for the time being, in a space of time delimited by the prospect of death. Changes that may or may not work out over millions or billions of years have little or nothing to do with decisions that will, here and now, cost the lives of millions of people, and generate upheavals that immiserate untold millions more. This law of natural ruthlessness sees nothing to be preserved against the changeability of nature implied by the randomly self-devouring “progress” of evolutionary forces. It uses an imaginary history of the world’s “progress” toward better species, to justify abandoning premises of human conscience decent people have observed in order to preserve the human species, such as it is, from self-inflicted entropy.
America’s founding generation appealed to “the laws of nature and of Nature’s God” to prove the justice of their cause of rebellion against the British monarchy. Their understanding of natural law emphasized the self-evidence (i.e., that which we perceive in being on account of the nature of perception itself) of previsioned order in the cosmos, dictated by the intelligent mind of the Supreme Being in and through whom all things are made.
This is the order all empirical science must take for granted in order rationally to commit to the work of discovering it. Otherwise, empirical science is nothing but an obsessional search for “slithy toves that…gyre and gimble in the wabe.” And its results are no more significant or reliable than the solvency of a roulette player. This would mean that sooner or later, the meticulously built wonders of our empirically scientific, technological age will prove to be a winning streak that simply, utterly fails.
This doesn’t mean, for the time being, it makes no sense for the world’s scientific wunderkinder to keep on assuming, as some ancient philosopher asserted, that intelligent mind (νοῦς) is at work in all things. Indeed, it makes better sense to pretend that orderliness is a relevant assumption even when dealing with things that appear to be randomly unique. The theoretical assumption of orderly chaos has turned out to be helpful.
Though it constitutes no “proof” of God’s existence, for the time being, the likelihood that order pervades the universe as we must know it, makes the assumption of God the rational counterpart of the assumption of order. When it comes to human affairs, the prospect of death makes that conditional limitation (for the time being) imperative. For in dealing with such affairs, our apprehension of chaos may not extend beyond the limits of our death-delimited existence. We make the mistake, therefore, of seeking results no more permanent than that.
It is a mistake that presages disaster. It means that what works for us here and now is to assume that change is not an essential feature of our nature as such. The fact that this or that aspect of human nature may change (evolve) does not justify triggering here and now fatal catastrophes to bring it about. A sense of duty to the “laws of nature and of nature’s God” accepts the responsibility to avoid inordinate ambitions that may do so. It entails trusting God’s previsionary rule (Providence) to take care of the eternal consequences. That trust entails observing God’s rules, rather than assuming that “progress” results from discarding them. Why? Because a being with God’s attributes has the presence of mind to foresee what we cannot, as evident in the prevision our created being makes manifest.
How is this relevant to the impeachment of Rod Rosenstein? Over the past hundred years or so, elements of America’s elite have more and more fallen prey to a God-discarding interpretation of natural law that frees their inner Machiavelli. They are now seeking to abuse and alter our democratic constitutional regime to serve ambitions encouraged by that view, ambitions that use the power of the people to overthrow their republic and renew the supremacy of forceful will so that once again a few can personally “progress” toward the aim of being as gods to all the rest. The ethos of what some call the “Deep State” reflects this elitist ambition. To thwart it, the people themselves must awaken to the threat.
They must demand that the power the Constitution vests in their elected representatives in Congress be deployed for this purpose. Where a transparently absurd rending of the Constitution interferes with this purpose they must demand that it be discarded. Over the weeks to come, the investigation of Rod Rosenstein’s malfeasant contempt of Congress should lay the groundwork for an appeal to voters in November to rally to the polls to elect GOP majorities in the House and the Senate.
This is not about serving their partisan ambitions. It’s about taking away any excuse for continuing the anti-constitutional dereliction of duty that is allowing the elitist faction’s overthrow of our self-government to succeed. If voters do the needful, the resolution to impeach Rosenstein should be approved during the lame duck session, so that his trial can be the first order of business of the U.S. Senate when the new Congress convenes.