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Contradictions in the Impeachment Struggle
By Fred Goldstein
The impeachment struggle against Trump poses many contradictions.
On the one hand hundreds of millions of people around the world would like to see Trump brought down in the hope that this will alleviate his administration’s oppressive, racist, and corrupt rule.
On the other hand, the impeachment struggle is, at bottom, a struggle by various factions of the ruling class to keep Trump from undermining the strength of U.S. imperialism at home and abroad.
Tens of million have suffered from Trump’s various forms of reaction. From the gag rule against abortion counseling, to immigrant families separated from their children, to Muslims and immigrants whom he has vilified, to Iranians suffering under sanctions, to Venezuelans and Cubans under threat from all sides, to Palestinians under Israeli occupation, to Zimbabweans under U.S. sanctions, and environmentalists watching the administration allow the extreme pollution of the air, drinking water, land and oceans. Trump has cultivated the ultra-right and fascist elements with his racist defense of killer cops as well as attacks on African and Caribbean countries.
On the other hand, Trump has antagonized sections of the ruling class as well. He has weakened the NATO alliance, pulled out of the U.S.-sponsored Transpacific Partnership, pulled out of the Paris Peace Accords, abused the Mexican government, the Canadian government, the German government, sided with the Brexit forces in Britain, and done numerous things to offend the allies of U.S. imperialism and to damage the military and diplomatic structure built up by Washington over decades.
Three hundred so-called “national security” experts have supported the articles of impeachment. What are “national security” officials? They are CIA, NSC, FBI and all the agents of sabotage, subversion, special operations, and dirty tricks, whose job it is to undermine, remove or destroy all obstacles to the advancement of U.S. capitalist and imperialist interests at home and abroad.
Of course it would be foolhardy to ignore Trump’s corruption. The Biden scandal would not have come out if he were not so contemptuous of capitalist norms and processes. It is hard to measure degrees of corruption in bourgeois politics, since it is so pervasive, but usually presidents wait until they leave office to enrich themselves. Trump did not wait.
He openly cashes in on the presidency to bolster his personal fortune right out in the open and in defiance of capitalist political decorum. He has spent 300 days of his presidency on Trump properties spending government money. He has refused to put his properties in a blind trust and turned them over to his sons. He has had military flight crews stay at his hotels. And the Saudi monarchy, among others, have rented entire floors in his D.C. hotel.
So openly trying to get a government to put a hit on Biden, his political opponent, is just business as usual for Trump and the corrupt circle around him.
The Democratic Party leadership and Ukraine scandal
The Democratic Party leadership has been given new life in the struggle against Trump by the Ukraine scandal. Trump tried to withhold $400 million in military aid to the reactionary regime in Kiev that is fighting the independence forces in the east of Ukraine until they came up with dirt on Joe Biden, Trump’s electoral opponent.
Trump did so openly in a telephone call that was partially recorded in notes taken by Trump officials. Some version of those notes were made public, and in them Trump tells the Ukrainian Prime Minister, Volodymyr Zelenskiy to “do me a favor” and “look into corruption” by Biden and his son Hunter. Trump had held up the military aid that Congress allocated to Ukraine well before the phone call to be used as leverage.
The Ukraine question is like Russiagate on a smaller scale. But politically it is, in essence, the same thing. The Democrats first opposed Trump by playing the Russia card over and over. Instead of pointing out the outrageous disenfranchisement of masses of voters, particularly people of color, and instead of attacking Trump’s racism, misogyny, anti-worker, and anti-environmental policies, they focused endlessly on the cry of collusion with Russia. First of all these Democrats are allied with the military industrial complex. But second of all, they assumed that this would be the easiest way to go about fighting Trump. If there is anything about the ruling class that is generally recognized, it is their hostility to Russia (and China). So the quickest and easiest way to attack Trump is to call him soft on Russia and a friend of Putin.
This put them squarely in the camp of the militarists. What they did not reckon on was the complete domination of the Republican Party by Trump and his intimidation of both the House and Senate Republicans. So until they won the majority in the House, they were stymied.
Nancy Pelosi was stalling on opening up an impeachment struggle despite the numerous crimes of Trump – against immigrants, women, his open profiteering from the presidency, etc. Then the revelation about the Ukraine issue fell into their lap. Trump bumbled into it. It came to the surface and they have seized upon it.
The background to the Ukraine crisis
It is no accident that the Ukraine issue has become the focus of the impeachment struggle. It was the Obama administration, with Joe Biden as vice president and Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, that overthrew the elected government of Ukraine under Viktor Yanukovych in February of 2014.
The Obama/Biden/Clinton administration collaborated with fascist elements to put a right-wing government in power in Kiev. It is important to go back to the tape-recorded phone conversation between Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and Geoffrey Pyatt, the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, in February 2014.
The European Union was planning a soft takeover of Ukraine, trying to undermine its economic ties with Russia. The U.S. intervened in its own interests by encouraging fascist mobs to call for the overthrow of the elected government. The Ukraine parliament pulled the police off the streets allowing the mobs to break up the parliament. That is when Nuland made the infamous “F… the EU” comment in which she openly expressed Washington’s preference for the ultra-rightwing Fatherland Party, rife with fascists, to take over the government. (Washington Post, Feb. 6, 2014). When the smoke cleared, the Fatherland Party was in office and President Yanukovych was forced to flee.
On Biden the “victim”
Biden, who has been made the victim of Trump’s maneuvers, is a thoroughly reactionary racist, sexist politician, in addition to being a foreign policy reactionary.
In 1991 Biden was head of the Senate panel that oversaw the persecution of Anita Hill by 10 white male senators who allowed her to be vilified by Clarence Thomas who had been nominated for the Supreme Court. Thomas went on to be one of the most reactionary members of the court. Biden presided over the hearings and participated in her vilification. Among other things, as the head of the panel, he failed to investigate her allegations against Thomas, failed to bring her witnesses before the committee, and acted as if he did not believe her. (Washington Post, April 26, 2019)
In 1994 Biden was a Senate leader. He wrote and had passed the largest crime bill in U.S. history. The bill added 60 new death penalty offenses; it eliminated Pell grants that allowed prisoners to get an education; it provided for funding for 100,000 more cops on the streets; it appropriated $9.7 billion for more prisons and it included the notorious “three strikes” provision which mandated life sentences for anyone convicted of three crimes.
Under Biden’s and Bill Clinton’s leadership mass incarceration soon followed.
Impeachment leaves the masses out of the struggle
The impeachment process is strictly for ruling class politicians and lawyers. They shape the charges and the arguments. They call and question the witnesses. The masses are totally shut out of the process and their grass roots interests do not see the light of day.
Trump should be tried for a whole host of crimes against the people. Witnesses should be called like immigrant mothers who have been separated from their children. Black, Latinx, Native and Asian people who have been victims of racism should testify against Trump’s casual remarks equating Nazis to those opposing Nazis and white supremacy.
LGBTQ2S people who have had friends murdered or beaten by Trump-loving bigots should testify; Black people whose relatives have been killed or beaten by the racist cops should be allowed to tell their stories indicting Trump. The same should apply to people who have lost their health care, their pensions, their jobs, etc.
Furthermore, it would be one thing if Trump were impeached under pressure from the enraged masses in the streets, on the campuses, and in the workplaces. But at present the masses are relying on the ruling class to fight their battle against Trump. He and his whole administration and their enablers should be swept into jail for their crimes. That might bring some genuine relief to the working class and oppressed.
First published on lowwagecapitalism.com website Sept. 29, 2019.