by David Swanson
September 09, 2017
Heavy rain driving
Into the sea.
Talking with people who are fed up, and especially with people who
are trying to do something about it, one increasingly runs into the
statement that the (U.S.) government is useless,
the government won't help us, we must help ourselves.
And not only that, but
the government is rotten to the core, irredeemable, systematically
and hopelessly and essentially evil.
And of course this is basically true...
The question is what to
do about it. Part of the answer is clearly to create alternatives,
to move positive change through local and state governments and
global alliances, to take areas of life out from under the control
of government entirely.
But part of the answer
What, after all,
are we to make of the fact that the U.S. government clearly
wants people conditioned to believe that they have to pay
for their own hurricane relief even after having paid
exorbitantly in taxes for, primarily, wars that happen to
be, among many other things, the leading cause of climate
If the government
is evil, and the government wants you dismissing from your
mind the very possibility of the government paying for
protection from real dangers, shouldn't logic dictate that
going along with that is evil?
Beyond logic, there's
a hard reality...
The earth's climate
cannot survive the conduct of the U.S. government. We can take care
of each other lovingly and creatively with ever greater solidarity
in ever deeper destitution.
But we cannot fend off
ecological or nuclear apocalypse without halting the leviathan that
is driving them forward.
In fact, if it's not
simply too late already, we certainly cannot save ourselves merely
by halting the government's destruction; we have no choice but to
generate constructive action on the scale that can only be reached
by moving a fraction of military spending into environmental
That it would only take a
fraction and that it would not need to come from anything useful are
little known facts, but facts they are nonetheless.
But how do you take control of and reverse course with a government
that is demonstrably worse than useless?
Talking with people who are trying to figure this out, one hears
a new messiah
must be elected to the throne
a new party must
vault over all the barriers to new parties
only total and
complete replacement of the entire system can help at all
be catastrophic and must be avoided
Scandinavian-but-more-so state is needed ASAP
And one hears these
things, sometimes, all of them, from the very same person.
But where does this take us in terms of practical action. Well, we
end up with pretty broad consensus on the need for education,
organization, and mass resistance.
But where does
transformative change come in?
Beyond the thousands of creative campaigns that we need advancing
thousands of issues, including various systemic reforms (of
elections, of media, etc.), it seems to me that there is a useful
tool people sometimes overlook for misguided reasons.
If the U.S. government
had no Constitution, or that Constitution did not contain any
mechanism for removing people from high office, and a popular
movement were to create such a mechanism, I think we would be very
proud of ourselves and eager to use it.
We wouldn't run around
telling each other that removing individuals from a completely
corrupt system was pointless. We'd remove one, make it a model for
others, and remove the next as needed.
Of course, the wealthy white male enslaving and warmongering
Founders put impeachment into the U.S. Constitution, having no idea
who would later get access to voting or what activist movements
would come to look like, but having a pretty darn accurate notion of
what people like Donald Trump do and what sort of danger they
are (even without knowledge of nuclear weapons or climate change).
I've been told that impeachment is a trick that "the system" uses to
fool us into thinking something has been fixed.
Really? When was that?
The Democrats fended off
a majority demand for
Bush Jr.'s impeachment and are
more set against Trump's impeachment than the Republicans are.
The Democratic Party
wants to keep Trump around in order to campaign without any real
platform as being the people who are not Donald Trump. That is how
corrupt the system is.
It could hardly be more
corrupt - unless, perhaps, the power of impeachment were removed by
amendment rather than merely by inaction.
Popular impeachment movements have effected serious reforms short of
getting to impeachment, including with Truman, and have forced
individuals out while putting through a pile of progressive
policies, including with Nixon.
Of course there is more than one way to abuse impeachment. You can
neglect it. You can reserve it for sexual conduct. Or you could use
it to generate xenophobia, Russophobia, and
militarism by going after Trump for unproven but dangerous
Pardoning Joe Arpaio
was not a reason to abolish the pardon power, though it was yet
another reason to impeach. And misuses of impeachment are not
reasons to abandon the tool of impeachment when put to proper use.
A proper Trump impeachment and removal would leave a President
Pence subject to impeachment (if he wasn't impeached in the
process), a divided Republican Party, a divided Democratic Party, an
empowered populace, openings for serious policy changes, and a
reduced risk of nuclear war or environmental disaster.
It might not feel as pure
as punching a Nazi, but living on a planet on which our children
might get to live as well should feel pretty darn good.