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Historians Impeachment Manifesto Gets It Wrong on Law and History

A headline that 700 “historians” called for the impeachment of President Trump took me back to the day that sent me on a personal and at times quixotic journey to spread the history, values and blessings that have accrued to us as Americans. As I think of it today, it was clearly the “historian-university” complex that was responsible for my experience that day.

A Disappointing Constitution Day

There’s a program that the Lee County Bar Association in Ft. Myers, FL conducts each year near Constitution Day, September 17th. Lawyer volunteers go to schools and speak to students about the Constitution. In 2012, I was among those lawyers and spoke to five sophomore American History classes that year.

Trying to get the students involved, I started my first class with a question I thought was simple:

Me: “What year was the country founded?” Hands went up and I pointed to a student.

Student: “1700”

Me: “No, it was after that.” Chagrined I pointed to another student.

Student: ”1800”

Me: “No, it was before that.” I took a deep breath and pointed to another.

Student: “1750.”  I glanced at the teacher in the back of the room, expecting some sign of embarrassment. I noticed the teacher seemed surprisingly undisturbed. It seemed to me that the AMERICAN HISTORY TEACHER didn’t know the answer either. I thought perhaps it was time to move along and try something easier.

Me: “The answer, is actually 1776, and now that we know that, can someone tell me what the date was?”  Hands went up again, and I chose a student looking especially eager.

Student: “September 1?” I was offered various dates, until finally,

Me: “Hot dogs, hamburgers, parades, FIREWORKS!!!”

The Class: “Fourth of July!!!” I hid my dismay (the teacher still appeared non-plussed.) and grinned along with the students who appeared to be particularly proud of themselves. They were blissfully unaware that my soul was deeply saddened.[1]

The experience was similar in the four other AMERICAN HISTORY classes that day.

The Historians That Taught the Teachers

It’s seven years later and today I realized that the “historians” supporting the President’s impeachment are responsible for the “American History” teachers who never thought that high school sophomores should at least know July 4, 1776 formally launched the American experiment.

I took the time to read the Historian’s Impeachment Manifesto. It does not take deep reading to realize that this allegedly learned group has trouble digesting what has taken place the last three years, let alone what took place over 240 years ago.

Mistakes of Recent History and a Shot at Prophecy

The Historians state opinions as facts, and incorrect facts at that:

  • “President Trump’s lawless obstruction of the House of Representatives” Apparently, they have never heard of co-equal branches of government. One branch does not “obstruct” another when exercising its constitutional prerogatives. It is the House that is lawless by refusing to contest a disagreement in the courts. Every president since George Washington has protected presidential privileges, and when limited by the courts, honored the ruling. We can only hope this group won’t be writing our history, since they are mistaken on current events.
  • “… his attempts to justify that obstruction on the grounds that the executive enjoys absolute immunity, a fictitious doctrine…” Here, the “historians” just make up recent history. There was never such claim made. The President had made a reference to his Article II authority regarding personnel matters. On that issue, the President is correct, members of the executive branch serve at “the pleasure of the President”. Court arguments are pending on the extent of congressional subpoena power. The “Historians” got the history of last month wrong.
  • “… if tolerated, would turn the president into an elected monarch above the law.” The courts have imposed over 40 nationwide injunctions[2] At no time did President Trump ignore these orders. I’m sure there was an impulse to go full Andrew Jackson: “Chief Justice Marshall has made his ruling, now let’s see him enforce it.” President Trump, like every president before him, tests the limits of executive authority, but has acted above the law, and obeyed every court order, no matter how onerous or misguided the order may have been.
  • “… the President’s offenses, including his dereliction in protecting the integrity of the 2020 election…” The “Historians” are now predicting the future and are anointing themselves prophets.

 The Teachers of Teachers Have Not Taught the Teachers

Nearly all the signers on this “Historians Impeachment Manifesto” teach or have taught at our nation’s universities. They are principally teachers of teachers. They are responsible for the “American History” teachers who either unable or unwilling to teach high school students the importance of July 4, 1776.

What after all is the expectation of an historian? To be the keeper of and communicator of a people’s heritage.

If they are unable to hand down both the simplest and critical element of American heritage, their opinions on impeachment have extremely limited credibility.

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[1] Leaving the school that day, I decided to do what I could about the sad state of affairs I observed. Since then I’ve given over 50 talks on the Constitution and Declaration of Independence, hosted a radio show for three years, Constitutionally Speaking, done over 100 radio and television interviews, and written more than 200 articles and two books, Constitutional Sound Bites and Creating the Declaration of Independence. While I’ve spoken at some universities, mostly its community and citizen groups who are thirsting for the knowledge that has left our schools.

[2] A nationwide injunction happens when one federal judge in one judge that prevents a presidential order from taking effect anywhere in the country.  For President Trump injunction subjects have covered immigration, border security, sanctuary city funding and more. When that happens, one federal judge has set policy for the entire country. If there’s an argument that anyone is acting like a “king” the last three years, it is these judges that have been arrogating unconstitutional authority to themselves.

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