Why Impeachment Matters

A Trump reelection is the worst-case scenario, and the Left needs to be part of the struggle to prevent it. Impeachment is part of that struggle.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi delivers remarks alongside Representatives Jerry Nadler and Eliot Engel, following the House of Representatives vote to impeach President Donald Trump on December 18, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Sarah Silbiger / Getty Images)

Imagine a socialist magazine leading an article with advice from the likes of Mitch McConnell, Republican majority leader of the US Senate. That was Brother Doug’s point of departure, the burden of which was, “Don’t bother impeaching. This Senate will never vote to remove.”

One may be excused for suspecting that McConnell would just as soon the House Democrats stand down because he believes impeachment would not be good for his party, even though Doug is doubtless correct that the Republican majority in this Senate will never abandon the president.

This is a tip-off that the impact of impeachment is not in the end result — the removal of Trump from office — but the politics leading up to that point: who said what, and who voted how. Doug reduces the proceedings to therapy for MSNBC hosts and revenge for the national security state. He seriously underestimates the political import of the process.

Properly speaking, the value of impeachment is the political impact of restraining the president’s more egregious impulses and reducing his chances of reelection. My view is that the Left can contribute to this project, and it should because it has no task more urgent than doing everything possible to ensure the defeat of Trump in 2020.

I fear we are in an “After Trump, Us” moment. Sure, Trump is not Hitler. Trouble is, by the time it became clear that he was Hitler, it would be too fucking late. Because HITLER. We have not seen a revival of the fatal attack on Social Democrats by the German Communist Party, the “social-fascist” slur. Today we have “corporate Democrat” or “centrist,” which sound more levelheaded but reflect a similar gloss.

The fact, sad though it may be, is that we will need all Democrats, corporate and otherwise, to beat Trump in 2020. Criticism of centrist ideology is well-taken. I’ve done little else for my entire career. The question is, at what point does such critique harden into an ultra-left abstention from the 2020 elections?

I’ve been a Bernie booster since his previous campaign, during and after. I also think highly of Elizabeth Warren. One of them will surely get my vote, but a little foresight ought to be exercised. Joe Biden could win the nomination. Are you ready to suck it up and vote for him, if it comes to that? I have to think that failure to see the difference between Biden and Trump is just whistling past the graveyard, a refusal dressed up in militant leftism to confront rising neofascism.

The other day, a town hall commemorating the Armenian genocide staged under the auspices of Rep. Adam Schiff was broken up by about a dozen Trump hooligans. If you Google “2nd amendment sanctuary counties Virginia,” you can find photos of a series of well-attended mass meetings around the state, of gun owners fixing to oppose gun control measures threatened by our newly ascendant Democratic state legislature and governor.

I used to think the Left would be the first to see fascism coming around the corner. No longer. Now there is a prevalent inability to distinguish the Trumpist Republican Party from Democrats, and an apparent acceptance of Trump’s reelection. Doug contrasts impeachment unfavorably with debates about Medicare for All, asserting that only the latter is real politics.

Doug ends thusly: “Impeachment doesn’t strike at the sources of right-wing power, from the Koch network and private equity to the think-tank and propaganda machine and the neo-Nazi underside.” He seems to overlook the actual leader of this formation, one Donald Trump.

To the contrary, the struggle against Trump and the forces he leads, of which impeachment is the leading edge, is as real as actual politics gets.

Will the Left sit back and cede leadership of the fight against fascism to centrist Democrats?