On the eve of the historic vote in the U.S. House of Representatives on articles of impeachment against Donald Trump, thousands of people gathered in the streets of north Atlanta tonight, demanding that Trump be impeached and removed from office. I was among them.
At stake, of course, is Trump's political career. Tomorrow's vote will be a reckoning with the stark and damning evidence that Trump attempted to engineer foreign interference in the coming 2020 election in order to cheat his way to a second term. As is now well known, Trump tried to extort political favors from Ukraine, a vulnerable U.S. ally at war with Russia, threatening to withhold hundreds of millions of dollars in Congressionally approved military assistance, in defiance of longstanding U.S. policy and at considerable risk to U.S. national security, not to mention Ukrainian lives. This abuse of power was followed by a shameless stonewalling of Congress' constitutionally mandated responsibility for oversight, as total an obstruction as Trump could create, and a blunt rejection of the constitution's separation of powers.
And this is to say that far more is at stake in this moment than Trump himself, as everyone in this demonstration understood. Failing to impeach Trump and remove him from office will mean a decisive step toward an imperial presidency, in effect a proclamation that the president is above the law, unaccountable to the people or the constitution. It will mean that the president can pervert and corrupt the rule of law with impunity. It will mean the triumph of the Republican party over the state's mechanism for holding politicians to even nominal account. To hold signs and sing chants at passing traffic seemed the least a citizen could do in the face of the malign, illiberal transformation of American democracy, a transformation that shadows us from the future.
17 December 2019 / Atlanta