Those pushing for impeachment or the decapitation of the Trump administration should be careful what they wish for, as history is a fairly brutal barometer in that regard.
As Guardian journalist Van Badham pointed out in 2017, she can’t take her eyes off the Great American Bonfire, noting the Trump administration cracks and hisses under the all-encompassing blaze of stupidity, poor government and lurid revenge fantasies. It has it all really; an inferno so towering that the hyperbole exhausted to describe it doesn’t even do it justice.
Trump’s out-Watergated Nixon; Kellyanne Conway “needs to shower” after defending him; it’s even goosed noted political analyst Rosie O’Donnell to gleefully (and ultimately incorrectly) ring the bell for impeachment, which, despite everything, had the sitting President of the United States fire back at Rosie O’-fucking-Donnell (wut?), gleefully supported by noted right-handed YouTube shouty person, Mark Dice (lolwut). But the silk hat on the quickly-crisping goose would be the unscheduled interruption by a dead-eyed Claire Underwood, the other First Lady, who, and I can’t emphasise this enough…is a fictional character.
I’ve been meaning to talk with you… pic.twitter.com/XN14zVvNAV
— House of Cards (@HouseofCards) May 16, 2017
This was all in 2017, mind you. Two years later, and we find ourselves in a similar boat, sailing towards probable/hopeful impeachment.
Today, Adrian Beaumont of the University of Melbourne noted a bump in support for Donald Trump after the impeachment inquiry was launched, writing that “I do not believe this affair will do lasting or serious damage to Trump’s ratings: the better-educated voters already detest him, and the lower-educated will be far more concerned with the economy.”
For fuck’s sake, make it stop.
But stop it we can’t. The primordial desire to be burnt by fire is too strong. It wants us to touch it. Dancing, dazzling danger, something that’d kill us (or our careers) if we were to abuse it – that ancient grip of respect for a binary force that is more powerful than you.
We’ve all written pieces slandering Trump, and hoping for a greener shade of grass outside the White House to the point that criticism no longer has any effect. You can’t not. You report what we see, but we’re not entirely sure what we’re seeing. So rather than adding anything new, we’re racing for the smarmiest epitaph. Funerals are suddenly entertainment. The droplets of new year optimism have evaporated, and the verbal blades of publications, celebrities and citizens alike are sharpened in preparation for an American liberal take on The night of long knives.
So, yay, impeachment?
Well, no. Absolutely not. As is standard protocol (gleaned from the aforementioned HoC), the transferral of power would carry over to the Vice President, who (if the stars align for the impeachment) would be the hateful Great Gazoo to Trump’s Fred Flinstone: Mr Michael Pence – a man who possesses all the Trumpness of his boss, but with the added MSG of religious righteousness. The bible. Just like the old America, the good book used to make.
Trump or Pence – it’s like asking which thumb you’d rather have cut off before you.
Option B would be akin to putting out the fire with gasoline, removing the existing power structure and quickly cobbling together a cabinet.
In American history, a land of blood and fire, the last time a government suffered such a blow was the Civil War, whereupon x amount of states formed their own nouveau United States to hold onto something that was fundamentally deemed as fairly shithouse: slavery. (A problem only solved when the Union killed, or hacked off enough limbs of those who disagreed with them.)
Except, this time it might be over something as turgid as fake news.
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Later that century, we had the socialist left overtake the monarchist right in Russia – many dead; Adolf forcibly placing a jackboot over Germany and continental Europe – many, many, many dead; Mao washing over China, rebirthing itself as a hybrid, a single-party westernised state; and if we wind the clock back further, we have that whole cake-eating bastille summer of 1789, when everyone lost their heads.
They are extreme examples, but what they represent is the end of the government system in each’s country. A new force decided that the old one was no longer working, as it put someone terrible in power. Sound familiar? Trump is a bad president, sure, and Mike Pence might be equally rubbish, but the forcible removal of them both (or indeed the entirety of the leadership group) is without precedent, and new, awkward ground must be walked if it is to be done.
But, that in itself would be the mortal mistake. In a country that holds freedom, and the freedom to choose, closest to its collective bosom, the removal the person they chose, primarily on the basis that the people who lost didn’t like the job he was doing, is a spear to the beating-yet-hardened ventricles of the American democratic system. Think of it the other way – a massive wave of hate washing the Super Memeio Brothers Obama and Biden out of the White House windows, just ‘cause.
As it stands, there seems a disconnect in understanding the difference between freedom of speech and freedom of action. Being able to defend yourself against your neighbour is now done with your fists. Consider that, then consider the division of feeling when the tables turn the other way – the mass of pissed off, validated-turned-cheated right, meeting the impossibly smug faces of the left, who took it – choice – away from them, purely because of their inability to accept the result.
At that point, all we can do is watch from among the bystanders aghast, with hands over our mouths, watered eyes wracked with fatigue, as the smell of sulphur invades our senses.
Until that point, we hope for the best, and hope we’re not living through tomorrow’s history. A history we’ll surely be judged on.
Which, sadly, means Donald Trump remaining President.