Last week, Texas Rep. Joaquin Castro became the first Democrat in Congress to explicitly talk about the possibility of impeaching Donald Trump. As a member of the House, Castro could begin the impeachment process by drafting articles of impeachment. With Trump’s approval rating at a historical low for an incoming President, will Castro be the one to start the process of impeaching Trump? Will he follow in the footsteps of another Texas Democrat, the highly revered Henry B Gonzalez?
Henry B Gonzalez served four decades in the US House of Representatives, from 1961 to 1999. He was a student of the US Constitution and believed it was his duty to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. During his 37 years in the House, he wasn’t shy about holding a President accountable using the mechanism provided by the US Constitution: impeachment. Henry B proposed and supported more impeachments against more presidents and federal officials than any other member of the House in history.
Impeaching Regan and Bush
In 1983, Henry B joined 7 other House Democrats and proposed impeaching Ronald Regan for not getting congressional approval for the invasion of Grenada. At the time, Regan was very popular, and impeaching him would be a long shot. As many predicted, the proposal did not succeed. But this did not deter Henry B from his oath to uphold the Constitution. In 1987, with Regan involved in a scandal over selling arms to Iran and using the proceeds to fund Nicaraguan guerrillas, another proposal to impeach Regan was tabled. This time a single member stood up and proposed impeachment: Henry B Gonzalez. Regan was still popular, and the impeachment was defeated.
Four years later in 1991, George HW Bush began the Gulf War in response to Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. Many noted that the war had not been properly declared. However only one man was willing to hold Bush accountable. Henry B proposed the impeachment of Bush on the eve of the first attacks of the Gulf War. A month later, he returned to the floor to again propose impeaching Bush. Bush’s approval ratings were soaring at the time and neither impeachment attempt was successful.
Needing a Henry B
Today, we have a President who had committed what many believe were impeachable offenses before he was sworn into office. And since he has been in office has seemingly ignored the US Constitution, behaving like he is a king, bullying those who oppose or question his decisions.
Our forefathers knew that with great power comes the risk of abuse. So they wrote into the Constitution the process of impeachment. This is the check and balance that protects us from a President that takes the oath of office, taking a great power, and subsquentlty becomes corrupted by that power.
To impeach a President requires a single member of the House, as we have seen. One member of the House has to stand up with courage and conviction and propose that the sitting President be impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors. Who will be that someone for us? Who will be our Henry B Gonzalez?