The Democrats are looking not at running a serious impeachment trial. They rather want to remake the media extravaganza that was the Whitewater-Paula Jones-Monica Lewinsky circus during the administration of Bill Clinton. Absolutely everything that has been rolled out in the past 3 years as part of building an indictment of Donald Trump has a direct parallel with the Clinton impeachment television show (and I use those words intentionally about one of the highest-climbing news channel ratings geysers of the 1990s, surpassing many professional sporting events and multiple popular sitcoms). The deployment of these materials at times has not followed the same order of the Clinton impeachment script but it has maintained the parallelism.
-The most noteworthy instance of this was the so-called Steele Dossier, delivered at the start rather than end of the investigation into the President, which undeniably sought to match the scandal and lurid detail of the Starr Report.
It is important here to emphasize that the repetition of this media spectacle playbook is intentional and calculated by the Democrats because its familiarity builds consent within the opinion of the governed. The Democrats count amongst their base the world’s leading propaganda machine, Hollywood, and so they bring to this project a critical understanding of how soft power is built via the media system to manufacture consent.
The effort to impeach Trump is absolutely not informed by outrage over his racism, xenophobic nativism, or provocative bolstering of white nationalist thugs both inside and outside of the nationwide law enforcement agencies on all levels. Rather, it stems from his desire to build détente with Russia. This is made clear by the fact that the Democrats are always banging the drum about Russian electoral interference as opposed to any other topic.
-As a corollary to these previous two points, it is worth emphasizing the particularities of concern over the heightening of tensions between two nuclear countries. Over the course of the last century, moments when humanity sat upon the knife’s edge of nuclear holocaust cane as a result of heightened political tensions combined with screw-ups in the chain of command that were simulated excellently, according to Daniel Ellsberg, in Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove,which he actually described to a colleague as a documentary! Mutually Assured Destruction by nuclear bomb has never been about the intentional decision to push the red button, a narrative trope of the propaganda system. Instead it has always been about military incompetence with deadly results. In this regard Trump’s outreach efforts to the Kremlin are praiseworthy.
The election of both Barack Obama and Donald Trump demonstrated a genuine crisis of legitimacy for the American federalist system among the people. Regardless of an individual person’s political orientation and conclusions that they reach pertaining to electoral politics, it is undeniable that the broad majority of the people have fundamentally lost confidence in the bipartisan neoliberal consensus of unipolar American hegemony that became dominant after the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union. Obama was chosen as president because his campaign success demonstrated a distinct and measurable disenchantment with a proposed return of the Clintons to the White House. The success of both Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump made this further manifest. The people are devout in their active rejection of the neoliberal bipartisan system.
-Crises of legitimacy are regular occurrences in the history of the American federalist system that have always included within their coordinates a manifestation of arch-reactionary politics. Some of these instances include the Confederate secession and Civil War, Black Reconstruction and its demolition during the 1876 election, the opposition to entry into World War I by the American Left followed by the efforts of solidarity with the Russian Revolution, the popular revolt of labor in the face of the Great Depression (where the New Deal was in fact a reactionary measure owing to its fascist Dixiecrat constituency), and the Civil Rights movement that catalyzed the wider New Left liberation struggle of the 1960-70s.
In this framework, it is important to realize impeachment is a campaign by neoliberalism to reassert legitimacy amongst the people, an effort that will not succeed without a significant perception of ceding of ground by finance capital with regards to its program of austerity.
This could come in the form of allowing for the election of Elizabeth Warren and/or Bernie Sanders. Notably, however, it needs to be understood that, as with the case of Obama, election does not equal an allowance to govern. Put more concretely, the intransigence of the Tea Party in Congress during the Obama administration will seem like nothing in comparison to what both the Democrats and Republicans will do to stop a future Sanders or Warren administration. Any successful passage of legislation will be the result of horse-trading milquetoast social welfare spending in exchange for further austerity legislation that would essentially neutralize the attempt to roll back America’s Race to the Bottom trajectory.
However, regardless of what finance capital allows to take place in the halls of government, legitimacy would temporarily be re-asserted by American federalism thanks to a Democrat, thereby granting its imperial policies a mandate that the Trump administration does not presently have, something made manifest by Trump’s persistent lip service towards those in the Republican voter base that endorse anti-interventionist and anti-regime change positions. This constituency’s ideological orientation can be attributed to websites like AntiWar.com, which are opposed to war but also create a big enough tent to allow for the presence of outright white nationalists like Lew Rockwell.
In international terms, Trump arrived in the Oval Office at the exact moment when the Global South had begun to rally its forces into a political formation that continues gravitation away from American unipolarity. China as the economic powerhouse of Asia has actively been seeking to create an alternative economic system, centered on enterprises such as its Belt and Road initiative, which Trump’s trade war has accelerated the growth and development of.
-The White House sanctions against Beijing, Moscow, Tehran, Caracas, and other foreign powers has by default created a bloc of nations that are beginning to rally together into a new market force that can operate independent of American capital. This was recently made manifest by Beijing’s efforts to create a petro-yuan with Saudi Arabia that, if successfully materialized, would be able to de-throne the American dollar as the world reserve currency, a move that would eventuate the rapid descent of the US in world affairs.
In this framework, radicals are compelled to answer the following queries:
-Is it desirable to allow finance capital to re-assert legitimacy, something any future Democratic Party presidential administration has the likelihood of accomplishing?
-Is it desirable to maintain this crisis of legitimacy that allows for the construction of peoples movements, independent of finance capital and its duopoly political parties, that can work towards the construction of dual power in this North American landmass as the US federalist system begins to wither away owing to its own contradictions?
-Can sane activists possibly determine the answer to either question when the stakes are so greatly pronounced by the adamant white nationalist character of Trump’s law enforcement agencies and the militant members of his base?
-Are we capable as organizers of the admission that electoral politics merely serves as a polling system pertaining to the consent of the governed on behalf of finance capital and not as a genuine plebiscite of the American voters?
Regardless of one’s conclusions pertinent to these aforementioned queries, it is important to understand that our salvation will not come from the Democrats or any electoral politics formation. Instead it will come from the Black Radical Tradition, a statement of historical materialism first elaborated upon by the late Cedric J. Robinson in his book Black Marxism and given further elaboration by both scholars and activists in the street who struggle against racial capitalism with the knowledge that the Democrats will not save us.