Since Trump’s firing of James Comey in mid-May, the case for, the need for and the support for impeachment have all become much stronger. Tom Steyer’s impeachment initiative has garnered over 2 million sign-ups so far, with a goal of 4 million. Journalist Ezra Klein recently published a thoughtful article putting forward “the case for normalizing impeachment” on Vox. A Public Policy Polling survey released in late October showed 49% of Americans support impeachment. And as early as today, a vote in the House on impeachment may be taken because of the leadership given by Texas Democrat Al Green.
The reason for all of these developments is, of course, the continuing series of duplicitous, lying, dangerous and deranged actions and tweets by the current occupant of the White House.
With Robert Mueller’s investigation of what happened in the 2016 elections yielding significant results, the metaphorical noose is, if not tightening around his neck, certainly coming into clear view for Trump, thank God. Without question, that investigation is an essential reason why support for impeachment is growing and why there is a realistic possibility, imho, that Trump could be gone from the White House before the November, 2018 elections.
But for this to happen, and for the odds to be reduced of a cornered Trump lashing out in even more destructive ways, like by trying to start a war with North Korea or Iran, for example, more is needed. There is something missing right now that was an important part of the reason why Richard Nixon was forced to resign in August of 1974.
Nixon’s resignation from office took place under different circumstances than our circumstances at present.
One difference is that Nixon was much more popular than Trump, winning his reelection campaign in 1972 by a landslide. Trump lost the popular vote.
There was one specific development that was the reason for Nixon’s demise: the Watergate burglary and all that was revealed after it about Nixon’s multi-faceted, organized, illegal campaign against the Democratic Party. For Trump, it’s a veritable multitude of one despicable thing after the other, far too many to count.
Another big difference, though, is the control of Congress in 2017 by Republicans. In 1974 it was controlled by Democrats, which meant that investigative committees set up by Congress back then were led by people serious about getting at the truth of what happened.
The apparent skill and tenacity of the Mueller investigation may mitigate that problem somewhat.
But there was something else back then that doesn’t yet exist today: a nationally-connected, grassroots impeachment movement.
It wasn’t a particularly strong movement, in many respects. I know this because I was one of the founders and coordinators of the National Campaign to Impeach Nixon. An indication of how “strong” we were is that a national impeachment demonstration that we organized in April of 1974 in Washington, DC brought out about 10,000 people. This was not a huge number of people, given Nixon’s unpopularity. But the mass media coverage we received, as was true for many other actions undertaken by this movement, was very favorable and extensive.
That was where I learned, as a 24 year old, that media coverage is sometimes directly connected to the feelings and concerns of those who ran the media outlets, and much of the media then, as is still true today, were more Democratic in their leanings than Republican. They were on Nixon’s “enemies list,” and many hated and feared the guy, for good reason.
A grassroots-based, activist impeach Trump movement would probably find a similar support from much of today’s media, exempting, of course, Fox News and conservative talk radio, by and large.
How could this movement be launched? How about doing so on January 20th, 2018, the wish-it-never-happened anniversary of Trump’s inauguration? All over the country, local vigils, demonstrations, marches or whatever could be held, calling for impeachment and Trump’s ouster while connecting that demand to other major issues around which there is popular movement and strong organizing.
The speech of Frederick Douglass in 1857, his “power concedes nothing without a demand” speech, comes to mind, and is well worth reading in full today. Here’s a key excerpt:
“The whole history of the progress of human liberty shows that all concessions yet made to her august claims have been born of earnest struggle. If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation are men who want crops without plowing up the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters.
“This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.”
On the first anniversary of Trump’s inauguration, let’s rise up to show ourselves, the country and the world that there ain’t no power like the power of the people, and the power of the people don’t stop.
Ted Glick has been a progressive activist and organizer since 1968. Past writings and other information can be found at http://tedglick.com, and he can be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/jtglick.