BOSTON (CBS) – Justifiably or not, Massachusetts politicians often cast themselves as the conscience of the nation. And Wednesday, free of concern over political backlash for their vote, they invoked impeachment’s historical context and significance, taking the high road even as their Republican critics were painting them as hyper-partisan haters.

“The President of the United States endangered our national security,” said Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Second District). “The president undermined our democracy, and the president, successor to the same office as Washington and Lincoln, betrayed his oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

Rep. Katherine Clark (D-Fifth District) quoted one of our earliest first ladies. “To paraphrase one of our founding mothers, Abigail Adams, a people may let a president fall, yet still remain a people. But if a president lets his people slip from him he is no longer a president. Just as Abigail Adams warned, Donald Trump has let the people slip from him. He works for himself, not us.”

Rep. Ayanna Pressley speaks during impeachment debate (WBZ-TV)

Rep. Lori Trahan (D-Third District) warned of future consequences if the president is not impeached. “Anything other than a vote to impeach will be read as a vote endorsing a future president without rules or consequences, an anything goes, no-holds-barred brand of executive branch authority that will leave us weaker and surely undermine what the framers passed down.”

Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Seventh District) equated impeachment with patriotism. “Today we take a stand against corruption and abuses of power. What we are doing here today is not only patriotic, it is uniquely American. America is a story of ordinary people confronting abuses of power with the steadfast pursuit of justice.”

And Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-Fourth District) spoke directly to his two young children. “Let the record show that – today – justice won. That we did our job. That we kept our word. That we stood our sacred ground. Let the record show that we did not let you down.”

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