It would be surprising if anyone who believes in peace, justice, economic equality, and environmental protection did not feel white-hot anger at the policies and pronouncements of President Donald John Trump. He is not only a racist, sexist, labor-hating, war-mongering reactionary. He is also a boorish, stupid, and incompetent narcissist, who has no business holding the most powerful job, in the most powerful government, in the most powerful country that has ever existed on this earth. People who recognize the truth about this man have participated in activities under the rubric of “Resistance,” recalling the heroic people of occupied Europe who fought back against the Nazis during the World War II. Under Trump’s administration, big business’s campaign to curtail the right of working people to organize trade unions, to limit people of color exercising their democratic right to vote, and to knock down all environmental protections in the name of “deregulation” is galloping ahead. Resistance is absolutely what is needed at this time.
It is also completely natural that people who believe in peace and justice would like to see this president removed from office. Because of Trump’s incompetence as a chief executive, his ignorance of diplomatic protocol, and the damage his uncouth comments and actions are doing to international diplomacy, even sections of the financial elite and senior government officials have come to the conclusion that he has to go before he faces the voters in 2020. So we see two social forces with diametrically opposed economic and political interests both coming to the same conclusion—that the current president of the United States should be removed from office.
Ultimately, there are two ways that the president could be removed from power. One way is by a workers’ revolution, in which working people in their massive numbers refuse to work any longer for the profits of the financiers and shift their allegiance to a new workers’ government composed of people who truly represent them, elected at the workplace and community level. Though that may indeed be desirable, it is not going to happen in the short term. The other way is through the processes defined in the U.S. Constitution, which include impeachment, as defined in Article 2, Section 4, or the provisions of Section 4 of the Twenty-Fifth Amendment. It is understandable that the millions of people observing the horror show of the Trump administration support the idea of impeaching Trump, which is probably more realistic than expecting Trump’s vice president and cabinet to agree to remove him under the provisions of the Twenty-Fifth Amendment’s Section 4. When sections of the financial elite also believe that the President should be impeached, it becomes a realistic possibility, and, yes, in the short term.
As any Democratic campaigner will explain, impeaching Trump will be a lot more likely if the Democrats gain a majority in both houses of Congress in the 2018 elections, which will take place in about three months. Impeachment requires a majority in the House of Representatives, and removal from office requires a two-thirds majority in the Senate. However, the majority party controls the agenda in each house of Congress. The committee hearings which could lead to the drafting of articles of impeachment in the House of Representatives would simply not be held against the wishes of the Speaker of the House and the majority leadership. Consequently, the Democratic Party is not shy about stressing the importance of returning a Democratic majority to both the House of Representatives and the Senate. Activists in the labor movement and in many other struggles for social justice are hearing from their Democrat-supporting colleagues that “now is not the time to go ‘third party,’” referring usually to the Greens, but sometimes to socialist electoral efforts.
In the past, Democratic electoral campaigns have attempted to limit mass action by the movements for social justice and racial equality in the interests of getting their candidates elected. Things have changed. The largest mass actions in the history of the United States took place on January 21, 2017, the day after Trump’s inauguration. Three million people took to the streets on that day. Officially, it was called as a day of marches for women’s rights in response to Trump’s coarse sexism. The huge numbers showed how deeply women are worried about losing their rights under the Trump administration and how outraged they are about Trump’s open contempt of women. In addition, those concerned about other issues joined in, expanding the protests expanded into a day of anti-Trump demonstrations. Mass actions opposing the Trump administration’s travel ban on Muslims a few weeks later were also very large. While some of the protest was spontaneous, well organized pro-Democratic networks such as MoveOn.org, called for many of the actions and used their vast social media and other resources to build them.
Unfortunately, coalitions that were not linked to the Democratic Party were unable to mobilize anything close to the massive numbers seen at the Women’s March. An antiwar mobilization called for several cities during the weekend of April 14–15 had a very disappointing turnout. Of even more significance was the Poor People’s Campaign, which was called by one of the most charismatic leaders of the African-American community, Rev. Dr. William Barber II, a man who has been compared to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. Barber has led the Moral Mondays movement in Raleigh, North Carolina, for a number of years, mobilizing thousands of people in struggle. His group, the Repairers of the Breach, called for a “Moral Revival,” uniting faith communities for social justice, peace, and the health of the planet. The Poor People’s Campaign specifically rejected giving elected officials or people who were campaigning to be elected officials any leadership role, not even as speakers at rallies. Only a few hundred protesters showed up at most State Houses for the six Mondays of rallies and civil disobedience. To be sure, organizers of both the peace demonstrations and the Poor People’s Campaign made mistakes, but during a period when so many people have shown that they are ready to take to the streets to protest Trump administration policies, the poor turnout indicates that pro-Democrat organizations failed to mobilize for actions they could not control or take credit for having organized.
Meanwhile, the political establishment has found the “high crime” with which they will charge Trump to remove him from office—and it is a big one, actually mentioned before “high crimes and misdemeanors” in the Constitution. It is treason—yes, treason. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), as well as other agencies in that murky network known as “the intelligence community” have come to a consensus that agents of the Russian “intelligence community” attempted to influence in the 2016 election in favor of Mr. Trump. James Comey, the director of the FBI whom Trump fired, testified in Congress that there was “no doubt” that the Russians attempted, through the release of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton’s emails and other information that put her in a poor light, and by trying to exacerbate current political divisions, to turn voters toward Trump. What success they had is very much open to question. However, if it can be proven that Trump or his campaign staff consciously cooperated with Russian operatives in that effort, then they can be found guilty of treason, which could send them to prison for the rest of their lives. In fact, if a declaration of war had been in effect against Russia, such an act of treason could be punishable by death. Former FBI director Robert Mueller, the Special Counsel charged with investigating the matter, has amassed significant amounts of evidence, which he and his team are keeping secret as good lawyers know how to do. Trump’s early campaign manager Paul Manafort is facing trial on charges of embezzling and tax evasion unrelated to the Russian meddling in the election campaign—however, it has been clear from the beginning that Mueller has been using the charges as pressure to persuade Manafort to tell what he knows about the Trump or his staff’s collaboration with Russian intelligence agents.
Suddenly, Democrats have worked themselves into a frenzy about Russia. Liberal politicians and press commentators have for the past year been referring to Russia as an “adversary,” which, one supposes, is one step below “enemy.” Many of us are wondering when the decision that Russia is an “adversary” was made and who made it. We certainly didn’t get the memo.
What is dangerous is that liberal Democrats are now taking a page from the Cold War playbook. We have heard accusations that, not only is Trump a “traitor,” but that anyone who does not actively work for his impeachment is a “traitor,” too. That goes for anyone who does not vote Democratic in the 2018 election or who campaigns for electoral candidates running as Greens or as independent socialists. For example, in New Jersey, the Democratic Party’s candidate for Senate, the incumbent Senator Robert Menendez, is one of the most corrupt politicians in office today. He has a terrible record of supporting war. Yet some peace and social justice activists are endorsing him him and criticizing former New Jersey Peace Action Executive Director Madelyn Hoffman for running against him on the Green Party line. Behind it all is the subtle—and sometimes not so subtle—implication that the Green campaigns and other independent electoral initiatives are part of the Russian attempt to help Trump in the elections.
These are tactics worthy of Senator Joseph “Tailgunner Joe” McCarthy, whose reign of terror in the late 1940s and early 1950s was a sad chapter in the history of this republic. The liberals are attempting to intimidate people into voting Democratic, as increasing numbers of voters recognize that the Democrats do not represent our interests, as evidenced in the extreme by the choice presented in the contest for New Jersey’s Senate seat. The social-justice wing of the labor movement needs to stand up and fight back against these undemocratic election tactics. The Democrats need to be told in no uncertain terms that working people have the right to vote as they see fit to promote their interests and values, and that it is not treason to do so.
At the same time, it is important to support and work for the success of mass actions in the streets, even when they are organized by liberal Democrats and used as a platform for their candidates. Mobilizing millions of people in the streets around issues such as women’s rights is a good thing. The recent mobilizations against the Trump administration’s flat-out evil immigration policies, which include snatching small children from their parents’ arms at the border, and against the Trump administration’s wholesale assault on environmental protections are other good examples. It is important to be at these actions and, if possible, to be involved in their planning and organizing. Mass demonstrations in the streets are the first step to organizing working people in their own interests and in their own name to take whatever actions necessary to save life on Earth. Simply removing Donald Trump from the presidency—as desirable as it is—will not do that. After all, can we expect anything good from President Mike Pence?