By LaKeshia Myers
Mahalia Jackson is quoted as saying, “If you dig one ditch you better dig two cause the trap you set just may be for you.” How fitting was it that I reflected on this saying this week as the House of Representatives officially launched its impeachment inquiries. As the public continues to receive information regarding alleged presidential coverups, analyzing withheld information, and unearthing secret e-mail servers, I cannot say I am surprised. The president has approached his office with extreme machismo, brashness, and bravado; he has not been quick to show compassion or empathy to the majority of Americans or foreign nations and has declined to take real responsibility for any of his actions.
This week, I feel as though I was living in a time warp. I feel as though I somehow experienced a quantum leap and magically inserted myself back to the 1970s. Maybe the summer of 1974, when the House of Representatives began their impeachment proceedings against former President Richard M. Nixon. I wasn’t born at that time, but as a student of history, I understand the impact and the gravity of the situation, both then and now. Impeachment is a process served sparingly by Congress; in our nation’s history only two presidents have ever been impeached—Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998, while both were impeached by the House of Representatives, they were not removed from office.
While Nixon left office before the conclusion of his impeachment hearings, I find striking parallels between him and Donald Trump. The elements of perjury, withholding information, and altering evidence are traits identified by both men. Also important are the byproducts of their respective administrations—both men had several members of their cabinets quit or subject to prosecution for their involvement with their scandals.
During the Nixon impeachment hearings, Congresswoman Barbara Jordan summed up the impeachment process with precision. She said, “We know the nature of impeachment. We’ve been talking about it awhile now. It is chiefly designed for the President and his high ministers to somehow be called into account. It is designed to “bridle” the Executive if he engages in excesses. It is designed as a method of national inquest into the conduct of public men. The Framers confided in the Congress the power if need be, to remove the President in order to strike a delicate balance between a President swollen with power and grown tyrannical, and preservation of the independence of the Executive” (Jordan, 1974).
Since the president took the oath of office he has lived as though he was untouchable. But as the proverb says, “Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18). It may have taken time, but the ditchdigger has come to collect his due.