why i'm worried about impeaching donald trump18 Feb 2017
the other day my friend, maureen, and i had a crazy long conversation and one of the things that came up was jamila’s recent talk at the media lab. that led to talking about impeaching trump. and i’m worried.
the impeach trump train seems to be moving along. lots of people have said the mike pence is the worse of the two evils. we know pence has literal oppression on his mind, but trump just seems to be a bungling, blind, sheltered, businessman so (white-)privileged that he has no idea how bad he is at pretty much everything.
so aside from the fact that impeaching trump will land mike pence in the presidency, the primary reason i’m worired about that course of action too quickly is this: we haven’t yet imagined what success/victory will look like. most of the impeach trumpers i’ve talked to just want him out because he’s incompetent. they haven’t thought beyond that. an example i often hear is “well at least mike pence is a real politician, so he has to be better.” this is, in fact, what terrifies me. with donald, the idiocy spews outward so at least we know what we’re dealing with. pence, i imagine, would be much better at talking out of both sides of his mouth. if he had been in the seat during the muslim ban executive order, i imagine he would have been much smarter about the rollout. that worries me.
so not only am i more worried about pence, but i don’t hear or see any grand strategy about what we’ll do once trump is impeached. putting energy towards removing trump doesn’t absolve us of the fact that our polis and political infrastructure let him get there in the first place! that is where the problem is and if we just remove the symptom without rethinking the causes, it’s very possible we’ll end up back here again… or maybe worse (#thenewjimcrow) and the issues will be more covert and harder to identify, sniff out, and remove.
we haven’t built new institutions or build game plans about how to modify or remove institutions that aren’t working for us, nor have we done the collective country-work to understand how much of a functioning democracy we actually have (or don’t have). impeaching trump doesn’t address the racism or sexism or patriarchy or xenophobia or islamophobia or homophobia or ableism is ANYTHING.
and if there’s anything that i’m learning from reading gene sharp’s work, it’s that deposing the dictator is the easy part. the hard part is maintaining the victory and institutionalizing the systems to maintain democracy. we’ve seen repeatedly (egypt, syria, and the arab spring come to mind) that removing the leader without a comprehensive plan of next steps can result in backfire worse than the initial situation. i’m not saying this means anyone should do nothing; i’m saying that poor/no planning can and sometimes does result in a worse outcome. there is no point in denying that. creating a power vacuum in the most militarily powerful country in the world will be a dangerous thing. if we don’t have a grand strategy for dealing with what will come after… we might find ourselves in even hotter water than we’re in now.
still not saying do nothing; just saying the going straight for the throat might not actually be the most strategic thing to do just yet.
ps - it is almost always a move of the privileged to push for the easy solution. that doesn’t mean that that pathway is only available to the privileged; it’s just often a knee-jerk reaction.
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