Impeaching Trump is not a left-wing project — progressive Democrats shouldn't be fooled

This is about one individual, and Russia. And it conveniently skims over all we know about US institutions and what they stand for

Slavoj Zizek
New York
Wednesday 02 October 2019 16:03
Audience shouts 'Lock him up!' as Stephen Colbert asks Hillary Clinton about Trump impeachment

The campaign against Trump and for his impeachment tells a lot about our current ideological predicament. Trump is portrayed as an individual pursuing his own private interests, not as the representative of a state and its apparatuses. Edward Snowden immediately got this point, commenting that “a whistleblower's complaint, which triggered US President Donald Trump's impeachment inquiry, is strategically ‘quite wise’ in its focus on the president versus an institution.… Congress could be more than happy to throw an individual abusing their office under the bus, in a way that they are not willing to do when they themselves are implicated by the same allegations.… This whistleblower is doing something [that's] a little bit unusual. They're alleging that an individual is breaking the law who, of course, is the president, [who] is historically unpopular at this moment.”

It is acceptable to criticize an individual who breaks the law while he pursues his interests or private pathological inclinations (revenge, lust for power and glory, and so on) — but it is much more difficult to discern a crime in the activity of a state institution, a criminal activity which is performed by personally honest individuals dedicated to their job. Evil and crime are here not individualized but inscribed into the very functioning of the institution.

Trump is undoubtedly a repellant person lacking a basic moral compass; however, what about the systematic violations of human rights in the continuous activities of the US intelligence agencies.? The true enemy are not idiosyncratic figures who act as a disturbance for the establishment itself; the true enemy are honest patriotic bureaucrats ruthlessly pursuing the goals of the United States.

To name names, the model of such a patriotic bureaucrat is James Comey, the FBI director deposed by Trump. Although, at the level of facts, Comey was probably mostly truthful in his critique of Trump (see his memoir A Higher Loyalty), one should nonetheless admit that his “higher loyalty” to the principles and values of the US leaves untouched what one cannot but call the criminal tendencies inscribed into the US state institutions — in other words, all that was revealed by Assange, Snowden and Manning.

One should also not forget that the movement to impeach Trump is mostly motivated by the desire to prove that Russia influenced the last presidential elections, enabling Trump to win. While there probably was Russian meddling (in the same way that the US tries to influence elections all around the world; they just call their interventions “a defense of democracy”), focusing on this one aspect ignores why Hillary Clinton was actually defeated in 2016. Her ruthless struggle against Bernie Sanders and the leftist wing of the Democratic Party should take centerstage here.

Bernie Sanders was right to warn that “if for the next year, year-and-a-half, going right into the heart of the election, all that the Congress is talking about is impeaching Trump and Trump, Trump, Trump, and Mueller, Mueller, Mueller, and we're not talking about healthcare, we're not talking about raising the minimum wage to a living wage, we're not talking about combating climate change, we're not talking about sexism and racism and homophobia, and all of the issues that concern ordinary Americans. What I worry about is that works to Trump's advantage.”

Impeaching Trump is not a leftist project. It is a centrist-liberal project whose secret aim is also to prevent the progressive wing of the Democratic Party from taking over. We should bear that in mind.

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