By Florence Oppen
As Trump continues to pass reactionary reforms, more and more workers and communities of color want to see this government go. This desire from below to see him go is however mixed with the media campaign against the government led by the Democratic Party, which is showing to the world the corruption of the Trump circle. It is clear that the DP is building a case for impeachment and trying to get back in office. There is no doubt it will be more effective than the GOP in effecting more neo-liberal reforms. We think however that workers have little to gain by rallying with the DP behind the “impeachment strategy.” What might appear as a short term gain, will be instead a medium-term and long-term defeat, for it would sealed the wedged opened by the 2016 election where both corporate parties were thrown into crisis.
Now is the moment to build a working class unity from below in the struggles against the Trump government, it is the moment to reform our unions and make them fighting unions again, and it is definitely the moment to work with all working class, labor, communities of color and Left forces in building an independent political party to run this country, a party with our program and whose elected officials come from and are removable by the working class.
Several Possible Scenarios for Trump
Trump has become an incompetent and unreliable manager of political and economic affairs for the ruling class. It becomes clear that corporate America is trying to figure out if they are better out with or without him, for impeaching or removing a President also comes to a political cost, it shows a weakness in the elite and creates an opening for other political forces to grow.
What is sure is that many corporate sectors are pressuring both the Republican and the Democratic Party to get rid of him, either by forcing his resignation or by impeaching him. In June, the CEOs of Tesla and Disney left the Manufacturing Jobs Initiative over the Climate Change summit, making a clear split with the government. This week Intel, Merck’s and Under Armour CEOs are resigning too after the President failed to condemn white supremacy and neo-nazi violence following the murder in Charlottesville.
Many liberal news commentators, legal experts and now even some politicians are beginning to consider seriously the option of impeachment, especially since the investigation on the potential collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia is moving forward under the leadership of FBI director Mueller.
What is impeachment? It is a political process, more than a judicial process, for it is a process where the elected representatives of the House and the Senate serve as a tribunal for their president. In short, the House initiates a House Judiciary Committee to investigate if there are grounds for impeachment and then if that is the case, the Senate organizes a trial. In U.S. history only two presidents have been considered for impeachment by the House: first was Andrew Johnson in 1868 in the midst of the Reconstruction process after the Civil War whose process for impeachment was one vote short, then came Bill Clinton in 1999, who was 17 votes short for impeachment in the Senate trial vote. In 1974 Nixon was going to go through a similar process of impeachment for the Watergate scandal, but he resigned before the House could vote on the impeachment articles.
How does this apply to the current situation? The more the investigation moves forward, and the more it produces shocking revelations of corruption, the more we are likely to see the House of Representatives initiate this process. This process however will only be initiated if the Democrats win a majority of the House and Senate in the 2018 midterm elections, and in order to do that, they are using the media and the leaks of the investigation to make the case that they are the best tool to get rid of Trump. There is however also option and that is that Trump will be forced to resign for the pressure mounting against him, and his inability of accomplish any reform is rendering him redundant and useless to the face of the public.
What is At Stake for the Working Class Movement?
However none of the previous scenarios will be favorable to working people, for they will just remove Trump but leave the reactionary Republican administration intact, ready to make a new move on healthcare, taxes, war etc. The Democratic Party does not want to rock the boat to end corruption, it wants to remove Trump to stabilize the national government and have a better shot in 2020. We need an independent mobilization of the labor movement, the immigrant rights movement, the Black Lives Matter movement, Standing Rock, the committees for single-payer healthcare and everyone else, to demand defeat the policies of Trump and oust him out of office.
Furthermore, imperialist aggression, isolationism, and a deepening of civil rights repression internally are symptoms of a sociopolitical system that is in crisis, but they’re also symptoms of a sociopolitical system that is hinting, if needed, a transition out of a liberal democracy into a bonapartist regime that has a high tolerance for the growth of the far-right and the neo-fascist groups. While there’s still no mass base to support a fascist party in the US, the groundwork for such a movement is built on these attacks against the most vulnerable working class communities of our society: immigrants, people of color, and queer people. In order to prevent this poison from further spreading into our class, we must find all ways to overcome the obstacle of apathy and intervene and develop all the struggles and forms of active and massive resistance we can against the attacks of the government and the alt-right. Only through joint struggle will we be able to develop the confidence of workers that it is possible to defeat the right, to oust Trump and to build a better society.
The Democratic Party Has Pulled the Plug of the “Resistance”
The Democratic Party that put a lot of energy in planning the January 21st “March for Women”, has been slowly channeling people off the streets and into the electoral strategy. Already on March 8th for International Women’s Day the liberal forces were uncomfortable with the independent call for a “women’s strike,” and preferred to avoid mentioning or supporting labor actions and mobilized for very small rallies. Since then all of the energy has been put on the media and not in the streets, and that is not something to be surprised about, for this party only appeals to the “people” to build its electoral base, not to organize for concrete and immediate needs.
In June of this year the Democratic Party launched nationally the “Indivisible” platform, a new name for the MoveOn type to channel mass votes into the DP after a short simulation of “street activism.” There has been a conscious effort to deplete the broad organizing spaces of new activists, like United Against Trump in San Francisco or Bay Resistance, to “organize” them into phone-banking legislators, voter-registration and campaigning for 2018.
We do not miss the DP in our grassroots movements for sure! Yet it is important to make clear that they did put a lot of people in the street when it was convenient for them, but they do not want to participate in any labor or popular movement if that means sharing the leadership or being questioned by other political forces to their Left.
Our grassroots movements against Trump and for free education and healthcare, and for immigrant, women’s and labor rights, must remain independent of the DP which has showed once again that they are not a party of “resistance”, but a party of opportunistic cooptation of people’s fear and anger.
We Need a Mass Movement that Unites Our Struggles
The DP has called its new net to catch working people “Indivisible.” The very name already shows the corporate liberals unfamiliarity with working class life. Our calls and communities are already divides, they have been divided by slavery, immigration, ICE deportations, sexism and homophobia etc – all of them equally enforced by the DP and the RP. Our class is deeply divides by racism, sexism and many other forms of oppression, and it is our task as socialists and committed activists to educate each other, build trust and overcome this divisions so our separate movement converge in a struggle for universal liberation from exploitation and oppression.
The best way to capitalize on the many frustrations working people, communities of color and immigrants have against Trump is to unite our struggles in practice so we build a broad multi-issue movement. This means showing up at “each others” protests, be it the counter-mobilizations to defeat the alt-right and neo-nazi forces, or the demonstrations against ICE raids and deportations, or the marches for single-payer healthcare. We need to build at the base of our class the political basis for unity and solidarity, by supporting all struggles and education our friends, co-workers and neighbors on the importance of fighting back.