A Schoolhouse Rock-Inspired Guide to Impeachment

How does a bill become a law? You can’t hear the ques­tion and not hum a few bars from School­house Rock’s “I’m Just a Bill.” The groovy car­toon civics les­son was for mil­lions the first they learned about the leg­isla­tive process. Ask anoth­er ques­tion, how­ev­er, like “how does impeach­ment work,” and you may hear more crick­ets than 70’s edu­ca­tion­al TV jin­gles.

Sure­ly we took some­thing from Bill Clinton’s impeach­ment tri­al besides cig­ars, stained blue dress­es, and the spec­ta­cle of moral­ly com­pro­mised politi­cians wag­ging their fin­gers at a moral­ly com­pro­mised politi­cian? Sure­ly we’ve all read the Water­gate tran­scripts, and can quote more from that his­to­ry than Richard Nixon’s “I am not a crook” (mut­tered before he resigned instead of fac­ing the charges)?

Maybe not. Despite the talk of closed-door hear­ings and con­flict­ed jurors, many of us have not paid close atten­tion to the par­tic­u­lars of the process, giv­en that impeach­ment tri­als can make for such com­pelling­ly broad polit­i­cal the­ater. And we nev­er got our School­house Rock impeach­ment episode. Until now.

See­ing as how the pres­i­dent faces pub­lic, tele­vised impeach­ment hear­ings next week, there may be no more oppor­tune time to get caught up on some details with Jonathan Coulton’s School­house Rock-inspired “The Good Fight.” Its ani­ma­tion style and catchy tune recalls the 70s edu­ca­tion­al series, but Coul­ton doesn’t address the kids at home as his pri­ma­ry audi­ence.

“Your tiny hands may scratch and claw,” sings Coul­ton, “but nobody’s above the law.” You won’t win any prizes for guess­ing who this means—a per­son in need of a child­like explain­er on basic gov­ern­ment, it seems. More ver­bal jabs are thrown, and the alleged crimes enu­mer­at­ed, end­ing with trea­son (and a mis­placed, anachro­nis­tic ham­mer and sick­le by ani­ma­tors Head Gear Ani­ma­tion). The video final­ly gets into the impeach­ment process over a minute in, past the halfway mark.

View­ers might find the first half emo­tion­al­ly sat­is­fy­ing, with its char­ac­ter­i­za­tion of impeached pres­i­dents as way­ward chil­dren in need of cor­rec­tion by a swag­ger­ing Con­sti­tu­tion and a sassy band of founders. It’s cute but leaves pre­cious lit­tle time for learn­ing how this account­abil­i­ty process is sup­posed to work. Coul­ton rush­es through the expla­na­tion, and you may find your­self skip­ping back to hear it sev­er­al times.

Nev­er fear: Google—or the search engine of your choice—is here to fer­ry you to thou­sands of guides to the impeach­ment process. “The Good Fight” isn’t, after all, actu­al­ly a School­house Rock ad, but a fun civic-mind­ed reminder to every­one that the pres­i­dent is not above the law, and that Con­gress is enti­tled by the Con­sti­tu­tion to hold the hold­er of that office, whomev­er they may be, account­able. An explain­er by Vox appears below:

via Boing­Bo­ing

Relat­ed Con­tent:

School­house Rock: Revis­it a Col­lec­tion of Nos­tal­gia-Induc­ing Edu­ca­tion­al Videos

I’m Just a Pill: A School­house Rock Clas­sic Gets Reimag­ined to Defend Repro­duc­tive Rights in 2017

Con­spir­a­cy The­o­ry Rock: The School­house Rock Par­o­dy Sat­ur­day Night Live May Have Cen­sored

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

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