BEFORE it was used for politics, impeachment was a sound, credible and well-regarded mechanism to force accountability among the highest officials of the land.
Enshrined in the Constitution, the grounds and the processes for impeachment are spelled out to give little room for ambiguity and excess.
Unfortunately, over the years and across several administrations, impeachment has been reduced to a tool to get rid of government personalities who do not quite get along with the powers-that-be.
Impeachment is supposed to be a solemn exercise, used only as a last, desperate resort. As we have seen—still see—it reeks of desperation indeed but is never a last resort.
It has degenerated instead to game of numbers, a show of force, and a test of loyalty.
There are occasions it is used by the unpopular official himself or herself—a stooge files a barely-substantiated complaint, which even when thrown would suffice until the following year, when the kitchen is not as hot.
Most of the time, however, it is a tool to needle the unwanted official. Several complainants come forth with accusations—any accusation, so long as there are several—that such and such official committed an impeachable offense. It would be revealed in time if the charges do carry any weight, but by that time comes, public perception would already have been swayed against the impeached public servant. Even if the case is eventually exposed as baseless, at best weak, the damage would have already been done.
We realize this could be a good pastime for lawmakers, if only they did not have a mountain of other things—real things—to do.