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Impeaching Trump Is Defending Democracy

Issue 252

Nicholas Powers Nov 6

“We’re going to impeach the motherfucker,” Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich) yelled of President Trump with the gusto of an NFL coach. It took a year and a half but he granted her wish. In a move so blatantly stupid you wonder if the cholesterol from all those Big Macs finally backed up into his brain. Trump called Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on July 25 to trade $400 million in American military aid for dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden. According to a reconstructed transcript of the call, he said in his fake mafia-style, “I would like you to do us a favor.”

Now he’s being impeached. You can almost see Trump in a bathrobe, fuming at House Speaker Pelosi on TV and throwing plates, cutlery and Lincoln’s portrait at her. The fear in his eyes is beautiful. Impeachment is needed because the “quid pro quo” of arms for back-channel political dirt is part of a larger attack on democracy. He will try to steal the 2020 election. Impeachment just makes it hard for him to cry foul after his corruption is paraded on national media. If he loses and the Republican Senate goes down with him, we just might have a chance to push for real progressive policy. 

The Right Stuff

Trump is terrified of losing. The Republicans are terrified of losing. They are like a pair of sweaty gamblers hunched over the roulette wheel with their life savings riding on this last turn. They risked everything on this presidency. It was, they believed, the last chance to take power and keep it before America is too diverse, too liberal, too poor and too panicked by the climate crisis to buy into small-government conservatism. The mood pre-2016 election was summed up in a hyperventilating essay, The Flight 93 Election, where Marc Anton, who later worked in the Trump White House, compared the right to passengers charging the cockpit of a jet hijacked by terrorists, aka the left, in order to take control. He wrote doozies like “America and the West are on a trajectory toward something very bad.”

In such an existential moment, who needs rules? So Trump threw them out and his base doesn’t care if he throws out democracy too. It’s the story of his life. Trump tossed aside contracts, debt and wives while bouncing on dad’s wealth from scandal to scandal. Same with the presidency. Political correctness? Fuck it. Human decency? Why bother. He wooed Republican voters tired of the new “rules” on race and gender, tired of playing by the “rules” only to be fired as the factory relocated. All fine and good, until he used the Constitution as a gambling chip. Trump conjured up millions of fake illegal voters to explain his popular vote loss to Clinton. He tried to push a citizenship question on the census to scare off non-citizens and redraw the electoral map to boost Republicans. He stoked violence in his devotees, who mailed bombs to his critics or shot up Black churches, Jewish synagogues and Latino families. He threatened violence if the GOP lost the midterms. He again turns to foreign nations, Russia and now Ukraine, to interfere in our elections. 

Trump, the Republican Party and its voters are locked in one of the riskiest gambles in the history of the republic. They bet on a high stakes con man and, if he loses in 2020, they’ll try to turn over the table to avoid paying up. Democrats have to impeach. The House of Representatives laid down the law, saying if you lose, pay up and leave or get your legs broken.

Feet of Clay

Maybe the worst part of the Trump presidency is seeing liberals pull their hair as they roam from town to town in sackcloth and ashes, bleating the same monotonous question, “But how do we beat him?” 

Yes, Trump hollers insanely into any hot microphone like a WWE wrestler. Yes, he rides golden escalators and golden jets. Yes, at rallies, he swivels his iguana-like head to the roar of proto-fascist America. But look closer! Trump is like a statue with feet of clay, the famous image found in the Book of Daniel, “Before you stood a large statue… The head was made of pure gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet of iron and clay. A rock was cut out, but not by human hands. It struck the statue on its feet and smashed them.” Trump can fall, easily. He stands on a shrinking base and as he flails, he gets close to tipping over.

He is a weak figurehead. He never won the popular vote. He won the Electoral College. Hurtling at his face is another Blue Wave. Angry women have turned Republican suburbs Democratic. Add to that seven million new young voters energized by protests against mass shootings and the climate crisis. Now he is losing support from his own. Farmers are pissed that his trade war with China wrecked their livelihoods. Republican Senators hate the guy. Former Senator Jeff Flake said, “at least 35” would vote to impeach him if they could vote in private. Republicans got the tax cuts, deregulation and judges they wanted. But the price for keeping him in office gets higher and higher every time he tweets.

Impeach the Motherfucker

Impeachment is the curtains being pulled back on underground gambling as the players blink in the sunlight and grab their chips. It is a dynamic force that changes the status quo as crime after crime is exposed. And they are panicking.

The more impeachment gains momentum, the more Republicans realize their backs are against the wall. The House will vote to impeach. The nation will turn its eyes to the Republican-led Senate, which will acquit him. Trump will stay in office but weakened. Republicans have the Senate but are discredited. If Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren capitalizes on that fiasco, holds up the evidence to show the White House and Senate are willing to subvert democracy itself, it can add fuel to social movements. Seeing Republican fingerprints on the knife intended to cut voters out may trigger a larger turnout. But only if impeachment is not seen as an insiders’ game but as part of a political revolution to overturn our American oligarchy.

The Ukraine call to enlist foreign election tampering, alongside domestic voter suppression, makes painfully clear the utter contempt Republicans have for democracy. It’s as obvious as a cross burning on a lawn. Only a deep racism, a deep classism and a deep sexism can let them think it is cool to gamble with our lives. We have to stop playing games with them. We have to put Trump and his crew where they belong. In jail. 

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