Is impeachment a dirty word? Not at all. Our Founding Fathers conceived the impeachment process as one of the important checks and balances in our system of governance and especially as a vital tool by which the Congress could rein in an abusive executive branch.

Impeachment of the president is, of course, a very serious matter and should not be flaunted about and/or considered lightly. Neither should it be used for political purposes or because of mere disagreement. In the Federalist Papers # 65, Alexander Hamilton writes that impeachment is appropriate for offenses that proceed "from abuse or violation of some public trust."Jurists from the 19th century have written that, "Impeachment is appropriate for failing to keep the oath of office to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States." And for offenses "growing out of personal misconduct, or gross neglect, or usurpation, or habitual disregard of the public interest." In the Constitution, we read, "The president, vice president and all civil officers of the United States shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors."

There is considerable misunderstanding as to our form of government.

Our form of government is a constitutional republic - a government of law. Our democracy is social, with the expectations that each citizen should participate within the framework of the law of our republic.

Citizenship is supposed to be responsible watchdogs over those elected to represent, not rule, we the people.

Our founders were very wise in giving "we the people" tools for our protection in preventing our gradual slide into an oligarchy.

First we have the vote, so we can limit the term at the voting booth. Then we have the right of redress of grievances. Finally, we have the inquiry for impeachment.

So, we discover that we get the kind of government we deserve. Each of us must be more vigilant and participatory if we are to safeguard and improve the quality of government by electing statesmen with constitutional knowledge and with righteous character. For only righteous and responsible people can remain free.

James Franklin Rinehart