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Fantasies of impeachment and protest: continued misreadings of Donald Trump

By Binoy Kampmark - posted Thursday, 17 November 2016


In an age where many pundits and pollsters ought to be put out to an ignoble pasture, predictions and astrology gazing on the US election continues. While he did have a better sense of this election than most, actually predicting the result, Michael Moore has decided to essentially ignore it except in the negative.

On MSNBC's Morning Joe, Moore took another stab at reading the future. "Here's what's going to happen, this is why we're not going to have to suffer through four years of Donald J. Trump, because he has not ideology except the ideology of Donald J. Trump."

The thesis is not entirely credible, but Moore layers it with the rationale of narcissism. As in ancient Rome, imperial ego eventually leads to downfall. Being "so narcissistic where it's all about him, he will, maybe unintentionally, break laws. He will break laws because he's only thinking what's best for him." Shades of Richard Nixon here: if the US President does it, it must be legal.

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Others focus on the internal dynamic of the Republican Party. Within the structure of the organisation lie kingmakers and potential assassins (in the political context). For historian Allan Lichtman, another who found his prediction on a Trump victory vindicated, the Achilles heel was infuriating unpredictability.

Republicans "don't want Trump as president, because they can't control him. He's unpredictable. They'd love to have [Mike] Pence – an absolutely down-the-line, conservative, controllable Republican."

The road then, for error, is paved. With the swords ready to be unsheathed at any given moment to strike down the newly elected president, Trump may well give grounds for doing so. Lichtman was "quite certain Trump will give someone grounds for impeachment, either by doing something that endangers national security or because it helps his pocketbook."

A call to arms has been issued. "We are going to resist, we are going to oppose," promised Moore with solemn conviction to MSNBC. "This is going to be massive resistance. Women are calling for a million women march on the Inauguration Day, and there is going to be the largest demonstration ever on Inauguration Day."

Protests have taken place in metropolitan centres across the United States, more as symptoms of shock than coherence. Never mind the fact that the inauguration is still to place, or that a Trump cabinet has yet to form. No matter, because according to Moore, all Trump needed to do was nominate Rudy Giuliani as attorney general "and things like that – or his Supreme Court".

Waiting for the proof in the long-baked pudding is something Trump's opponents will not do. Being of a certain America they disapprove of, nothing less than the president-elect's removal is warranted. Not that doing so would effectively muzzle the very voters who had, legitimately, staked a claim in wishing to be heard in the White House.

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The looming question here, and one noted by Trump at stages since the election, is the extent such a massive movement against him is being shaped. Are these protests the natural, organic product of outrage in the electorate, or being cultivated by the professional activist class? Many Republicans certainly claim that to be the case, though closer scrutiny of that claim is warranted.

USAToday(Nov 12) considered the issue, and ran with the story that the protestors were varied, reflecting the varieties of backgrounds in the United States. "They come from all ages and walks of life, unflinching and determined to be heard."

Well, not quite all – the Trump supporter and voter are considered best ignored by the likes of the Socialist Alternative, the ANSWER Coalition and MoveOn.org. The focus here is not on dialogue or discourse but shouting down and the reverberations of the echo chamber.

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About the Author

Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He currently lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne and blogs at Oz Moses.

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Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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