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Two tactics in the fight against Trump and the right

House Democrats vote to impeach Trump
Commentary by Fight Back! Editors |
December 20, 2019
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Thousands of protesters confront Trump in Minneapolis.
Thousands of protesters confront Trump in Minneapolis. (Fight Back! News/staff)

On December 18 the U.S. House of Representatives voted by a 230-197 margin to impeach President Donald Trump. The day before, thousands of people turned out at hundreds of protests across the country to support the impeachment effort.

Trump was impeached by a party-line vote on two counts: first, for abuse of power after he withheld military aid from the Ukraine in an effort to get the government there to investigate Joe Biden’s son for corruption; and second, for obstruction of justice because of his campaign to cover up his actions.

What was not voted on were Trump’s many other crimes against the people, in particular his anti-immigrant vendetta that led to the Muslim travel ban, severe restrictions on the numbers of refugees that the United States would accept, and worst of all, his concentration camps and family separations of Central American refugees trying to cross the U.S.-Mexico border. In fact, the Democratic leadership of the House voted for more funding for Trump’s wall and further militarization of the border in bipartisan vote. While most members of the House Hispanic and Progressive caucuses opposed the bill, House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Democratic leadership were willing to sacrifice the lives and wellbeing of refugee families and children to consolidate support for impeachment among corporate Democrats.

Pelosi and leaders of the Democratic Party seized upon impeachment as a way channel widespread anger against Trump into the Democratic Party and ultimately the 2020 elections. Impeachment was also a means to consolidate more of the billionaires behind the Democratic Party and to widen splits among conservatives, many of whom have left the Republican Party or even have come out in favor of impeachment.

What Pelosi and other corporate Democratic share with the conservatives who reject Trump is the concern that Trump is weakening the U.S. empire further by disputes with U.S. allies over trade and climate change, as well as his moves to negotiate with longtime foes such as the DPRK (north Korea) and the Taliban in Afghanistan. It is no coincidence that this third impeachment effort in 45 years (President Clinton was impeached but acquitted by the Senate, while President Nixon resigned before the impeachment vote), comes at a time when the U.S. empire has been in decline, since its major defeat in the war in Vietnam to today’s rise of China. In contrast, the first 180 years of the U.S. republic only had one impeachment - President Andrew Johnson in 1868.

In contrast to method of impeaching Trump, the successful refounding of the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression (NAARPR) represents the fight from below, from the grassroots, against Trump and the right wing. Originally founded in 1973 on the heels the international effort to free Angela Davis, NAARPR held its refounding conference in November in Chicago. 1200 people came to a Friday night rally on November 22 to hear Angela Davis and other movement activists. The next day 700 attended the conference and elected Chicago community activist Frank Chapman as their executive director. Chapman was a wrongfully convicted prisoner freed with the help of the Alliance, who has become a leader in the fight for community control of police to combat the epidemic of police crimes.

Present at the conference were families of those wrongfully convicted or murdered by the police, representatives of militant labor unions like the Chicago Teachers Union, and Palestinian American Rasmea Odeh, who was fought jail and deportation on trumped-up charges, spoke via a video connection. All showed the breadth and depth of the people’s movement in the United States. While organizers of the conference did work long and hard for months, its foundations were laid by hundreds of activists across the country who have been building grassroots, militant struggles in the community, on campuses and in the workplace. The rebirth of NAARPR also was based on the millions of African Americans and others who poured into the streets to protest police crimes in the movement for Black lives, including urban uprisings in places like Ferguson, Missouri and Baltimore, Maryland, the like of which hasn’t been seen since the 1960s.

While nobody would be happier than us if the senate convicts Donald Trump and tosses him from office, the reality is that the chances of this are slim to none. There are better odds that Trump can be defeated at the polls in 2020, and there is even the possibility of a relatively progressive Democrat being elected president. But even in this best-case scenario, the corporate Democrats, along with the Republicans, will support the billionaires’ agenda. Only a strong grassroots people’s movement, such as the newly invigorated NAARPR, can continue to push for real change that will benefit the working class and oppressed people of this country and the world.

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