Impeachment Is a Kitchen Table Issue

November 11, 2019

Dean Baker
Truthout, November 11, 2019

See article on original site

As the Democrats have pushed ahead with impeachment proceedings, there have been criticisms from both the right and the left that impeachment is a needless distraction from the pocketbook issues that people really care about. The argument is that people will see the Democrats as playing political games rather than focusing on health care, jobs, wages and other issues that directly affect people’s lives.

However, impeachment is not in opposition to those pocketbook issues. In fact, it is a necessary step in working to thwart the Republican agenda – which, to put it simply, is to give all the money to rich people.

This means more than just fighting efforts to make rich people pay taxes. It also means allowing the rich to cheat workers out of their pay, pollute drinking water, destroy the planet, and do anything else to ordinary people and the environment that might boost their income. Republicans and their allies also design patent and copyright monopolies to give even more money to the rich (both here and overseas), and they structure the digital economy in ways that deny ordinary people any privacy.

Most Republicans do not care at all about democracy or the rule of law. They will do anything and everything they can get away with. We see this again and again.

To take one prominent example, Republicans wanted to include a question on citizenship on the Census to discourage immigrants from answering. The purpose was to reduce political representation in areas with large immigrant populations. The Supreme Court ultimately blocked this effort because the Trump administration could not find a plausible reason to include this question, other than to discriminate against immigrants.

The Ukraine affair has to be understood in this context. Trump is quite openly using the State Department, the Justice Department, and most likely other branches of government to advance his personal and political interests directly.

The issue of impeachment on these grounds has nothing to do with what one thinks of Joe Biden. Trump invented a scandal out of thin air and had the State Department apply pressure on Ukraine to pretend it was real.

If that sounds far-fetched, remember, this is a guy who ran around the country for years insisting that Barack Obama was born in Kenya. And, he has never apologized for that or any other racist inanity.

If Trump’s actions are allowed to go unchecked, we can take it for granted that he will continue to use the power of the government against his political opponents, even as he resists investigation himself. If Elizabeth Warren gets the nomination, expect to see IRS investigations of her consulting work. If Bernie Sanders gets the nomination, don’t be surprised to see the IRS and Justice Department investigating Jane Sanders’s dealings at Burlington College, which went bankrupt several years after her presidency. Look for ominous news stories about money paid to “the Sanders,” as though Bernie and Jane were a single person. And, if Pete Buttigieg gets the nomination, expect federal investigations of racist practices in the South Bend police department — although, actually, that would be a good idea.

The point is that Trump fully intends to use the power of government against his political opponents, and the current position of the Republican party is that if Donald Trump does it, it’s fine.

Although people are much more concerned about their pocketbooks than about the rule of law, does anyone really believe that any Democrat will beat Trump if he gets to cheat as much as he wants? The Democrats must be able to put a check on Trump’s abuses of power.

Be assured that the Republican-controlled Senate will not remove Trump. As Trump has said, he can shoot someone on Fifth Avenue in broad daylight and his supporters will still be with him.

Nonetheless, holding up Trump’s crimes in the full light of day will put some check on his abuses. We already saw this when he was forced to abandon his plans to give himself millions of dollars by holding the G-7 Summit at his Doral Resort.

The Democrats have been fortunate to have career civil servants who have been willing to risk their careers, if not their lives, by calling attention to Trump’s abuses of power. If the Democrats don’t take advantage of these people’s courage, it is a safe bet that no one else will come forward in the future, and Trump will have a free hand to ignore the law as much as he wants.

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