One thing must be remembered above all else in the coming hearings of impeachment against the President of the United States. You must put the Constitution, your duty to it, and your oath to it, in the center of your thoughts and actions.
Ours is a nation built not upon blood or history, but an idea around which history has been made and for which blood has been shed. That idea gives our Constitution its purpose. The meaning and status of the idea is now at stake.
During this scandal, the argument is commonly made that if the matter concerns "only sex" then it is private and has nothing to do with the president's public duties. It is surely true that questions of perjury or obstruction of justice bear directly and seriously upon the constitutional duties of the presidency, and these must be regarded as the most important matters. But the issue of private morality is also serious, and it also has a bearing upon the president's public responsibilities. The first president, George Washington, set the example for the office by which all others are judged. In his first speech as president, he promised that "the foundation of our national policy will be laid in the pure and immutable principles of private morality."
Consider for a moment why this is necessary. The evils that beset the "culture" as it is termed, and those that beset the government, stem from the same root. At that root is relativism and its stronger and later intellectual heirs. According to relativism, nothing is true except that which we make so. If nothing is true, if reason can discover no guide for human action, then two things follow.
The first is personal. Relativism is an invitation to vice. The second consequence of relativism is political. If there is a right to do wrong, if there is no distinction between right and wrong, then the limits on government disappear. The political impulse of this administration is that the government may do whatever it pleases. The personal impulse is the same.
A point has been that it is a serious matter to "overturn an election." True enough. But elections have no higher standing under our Constitution than the impeachment process. Both stem from provisions of the Constitution. The people elect a president to do a constitutional job. They act under the Constitution when they do it. At the same time they elect a Congress to do a different constitutional job. The president swears an oath to uphold the Constitution. So does the Congress. Everyone concerned is acting in ways subordinate to the Constitution, both in elections and in the impeachment process.
If the president is guilty of acts justifying impeachment, then he, not the Congress, will have "overturned the election." He will have acted in ways that betray the purpose of his election. He will have acted not as a constitutional representative, but as a monarch, subversive of, or above, the law.
If the great powers given the president are abused, then to impeach him defends not only the results of elections, but that higher thing of which elections are in service, namely the preeminence of the Constitution, as the institution under which we pursue the security of our rights. We are all subordinate to that.