Is this the end of the line for Donald Trump?
Are we witnessing the unraveling of the Trump presidency? This is, indeed, a question left-wing pundits have raised since the Orange One’s shock election two years ago.
And there have been several points throughout the last two years when it really did seem like Donald Trump had finally gone too far. Such moments included Trump’s abrupt firing of FBI director, James Comey; his unambiguous defense of white supremacists in the wake of Heather Heyer’s murder in Charlottesville, Virginia; and Michael Cohen’s frank admission that he engaged in illegal campaign finance spending at the direction of “Individual 1” (Trump), to name just a few.
Yet, Trump has always managed to bounce back after each of these seemingly irreparable moments. Trump is, if anything, the “master of distraction,” as filmmaker, Michael Moore has frequently observed. Another war (or a ramping up of one of the wars the U.S. is already embroiled in), a new set of tariffs, an escalation of violence against immigrants at the border — Trump could utilize any of these maneuvers to swiftly shift the public’s attention away from his myriad criminal activities.
In other words, we have been here before with this president.
Still, there is a sense that things are different this time around. It does seem like the proverbial walls are closing in on the Groper in Chief.
The recent resignation of James Mattis, Trump’s secretary of defense, in response to the president’s abrupt decision to remove most (but not all) U.S. troops from Syria seems, for many Washington pundits, to constitute a dramatic turning point.
Mainstream news outlets are now openly discussing the possibility of Trump being impeached.
“An impeachment process against President Trump now seems inescapable,” Elizabeth Drew writes in a Dec. 27, 2018 op-ed for the New York Times. “Unless the president resigns, the pressure by the public on the Democratic leaders to begin an impeachment process next year will only increase.”
While I would like nothing more than to see the Cheetos-skinned ignoramus defenestrated from the White House, I remain skeptical of the Democratic Party’s willingness to actually initiate impeachment hearings — even if Robert Mueller’s investigation uncovers incontrovertible evidence of unconstitutional criminal wrongdoing.
For one thing, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has, in characteristic fashion, already ruled impeachment out.
“I do think we want to be unified and bring people together,” Pelosi (D-CA) told MSNBC’s Joy Reid during a town hall interview, Friday. “Impeachment is a very divisive approach to take and we shouldn’t take it … without the facts.”
This excuse will be eerily familiar to readers old enough to remember the George W. Bush years, over a decade ago. That was the last time Pelosi was Speaker and the Democrats controlled the House of Representatives. Back then, Pelosi also labelled impeachment “divisive,” and a “distraction,” despite the ample evidence that Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney engaged in war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The Democrats basically regard impeachment as political poison.
Part of this distaste for the impeachment process is likely a hangover from the Republicans’ 1998 effort to impeach Bill Clinton for having an extramarital affair while in office and lying about it to the public. That overzealous maneuver severely backfired on the Newt Gingrich-led GOP and ended up making Clinton appear like the sympathetic victim of a right-wing witch hunt. It also solidified the idea that impeaching a sitting president is a form of “overreach,” if not outright political “revenge.”
(There is also such a stark world of difference between the “crime” of Clinton’s infidelity, and Trump’s far more grievous crimes of tax evasion, obstruction of justice, and possible electioneering, as to make comparisons to the Clinton impeachment laughably absurd.)
But beyond the bitter memories of the Clinton impeachment fiasco over two decades ago, the Democrats have a more cynical reason for wanting to keep Trump around: Frankly, they need him.
Perverse as it may seem, the openly racist, misogynist, nativist, climate-change-denying Trump makes the perfect foil for the Dems —particularly when he childishly shuts down the federal government only days after petulantly claiming he would proudly “own” any such shutdown.
Why get rid of such a thoroughly inept political adversary who routinely makes criticism of him so friggin’ easy? Basically anybody — Joe Biden, George W. Bush, John McCain, my cat, Zooey … anybody! — looks like a refined president compared to Trump.
Thus, it would be a mistake for the left to pin its hopes on removing Trump from office on the “dismal dollar-drenched Dems,” as leftist writer, Paul Street dubs the party. And even if Trump were impeached, that would leave us with … President Mike Pence — a Christian evangelical zealot and white nationalist. Not exactly an improvement, if you ask me.
This is not to suggest pursuing impeachment is a “waste of time,” or even a “distraction” as some on the left have suggested.
No doubt, impeaching Trump — or, perhaps more likely, forcing him to resign from office in shame as Richard Nixon did — would be something of a victory for the left. Ideally, removing Trump from the White House would send a clear message to then-President Pence that he cannot merely follow, willy-nilly, in Trump’s criminal footsteps, lest he suffer the same fate.
The problem, however, rests in the bourgeois “Founding Fathers'” constitution, itself.
At the end of the day Trump, loathsome as he is, is not really the problem. Trump is merely a symptom of the disease — the disease of capitalism. Trading one capitalist president for another amounts to little more than a cosmetic reform. The whole system needs to be impeached.
And we cannot accomplish this task through elections alone. It will take massive protests, demonstrations, teach-ins, and a broad, multi-racial, multi-ethnic, multi-gender working-class movement to truly alter the structures of our racist, sexist, capitalist society.
As Street observes, though the United States prides itself as the “world’s greatest democracy,” few of our nation’s institutions can accurately be called “democratic.” The U.S. is essentially an oligarchy.
“Impeaching or otherwise removing [Trump] won’t alter that basic reality,” Street writes in a recent column. “The United States doesn’t need a new and 46th president as much as it needs a democracy, a new constitution, a new organizing of institutions — including its frankly absurd and plutocratic election and party systems.”