On January 6, we were dumbfounded at a television “show” typical of an action movie or an ex-Soviet republic; but it happened in the most powerful nation in the world. It was about the taking of Congress, the sacrosanct place of the oldest and most consolidated democracy in the world. The “Assault on the Capitol”, as it will go down in history, was prompted by the harangue of the US president himself during his rally before thousands of fanatical followers, in front of the White House, while congressmen debated the validity of the electoral votes sent by each state.
The media’s reaction was immediate and prestigious newspapers such as the Boston Globe did not hesitate to describe the irresponsible action sponsored by Trump as “criminal.” It is very likely that such an accusation will finally be settled in court, but beyond the criminal consequences for inciting the protesters to “walk to Congress” asking them to be “strong and courageous”, the matter is of full interest to the political arena.
Second impeachment process
Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic Speaker of the House of Representatives, has announced that she will immediately begin the second impeachment process against the still president.
Undoubtedly, what happened in the legislative offices is of a greater gravity than the love affairs that President Bill Clinton had with the fellow Monica Lewinsky at the end of the last century, and that led him to such a shameful procedure.
During his four years in office, or rather, since tycoon Donald Trump announced his participation in the Republican primaries in 2015, scandal has been his inseparable traveling companion. Accusations of a sexual nature, of complicity with the Russian secret services, of shady economic dealings within the family… that would have meant the defenestration of any other politician, have become irrelevant anecdotes in his political biography.
However, what happened just a week ago is a turning point, a before and after in his controversial, erratic, political career. For many, even before these regrettable incidents, Trump was considered the worst president in the history of American democracy.
An impeachment process, either by constitutional means in application of Amendment 25, or through the aforementioned impeachment, would mean revalidating the democratic principles that have governed the country for two and a half centuries, and would confirm the revolutionary maxim established in the Declaration of Independence referring to the “equality of all men”, ratified by “We the people”, starting from the constitutional text.
It would mean the well-deserved climax to four years of political arrogance, media bravado, contempt of his adversaries, humiliation of intimate collaborators whimsically dismissed via WhatsApp, disparagement of his traditional allies … to name just a few reasons for his ill-fated presidency. However, the repercussions of an impeachment go beyond the personal realm and concern both the Democratic and Republican parties.
Dangers for Democrats
Democrats are in danger of being carried away by their social democratic tendency, led by Bernie Sanders, and falling into nonsense similar to those that have characterized the Trump presidency, only concerned with governing for the most radical Republicans and not for the whole of the nation.
The postulates and principles of social democracy, rooted in Europe, are as familiar to American society as “String Theory” to a puppeteer. Beyond overshadowing the inauguration of their president-elect, they would torpedo the political program of Joe Biden, whose most urgent and peremptory mission will be to heal the deep wound that has segmented American society as never before since the Civil War.
Republicans are in a more complex dilemma, as recovering the White House for one of their own, and even the future of the party itself, will largely depend on how they solve such a convoluted situation.
The acceptance of Trump by Republican voters is beyond question. During the moments of lower general popularity index, below 40%, it reached 90% acceptance among its voters.
For Republicans, whose support is essential to move the motion forward, what Pelosi offers is poisoned candy. In case of accepting it, the party would split, I have no doubt: either because of the disaffection of its voters who support the 45% takeover of Congress, or because its still president created a new party. Hypothesis, the latter, that could well occur in any of the cases.
Let us not forget that the Republican Party emerged from the ashes of the old Whig Party, which had four presidents, itself born from a split in the Democratic Party, led at that time by Andrew Jackson. In these chaotic times, it is unpredictable to venture who Trump might drag into the grave he dug by encouraging mobs to take over Congress.
This article has been published in The Conversation.