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Impeached Trump is the symptom, not the cause



In a turn of events predicted since he announced his candidacy for President, Donald Trump has been impeached. Not for boasting that he regularly grabs women by the genitals without consent, nor for abuses of power violating constitutionally enshrined human rights by barcoding and then imprisoning children at the US/Mexico border. With Trump's history of abuse and oppression it is the sweetest irony that all that was necessary for impeachment was an abuse related to the investigation of a rich, white political rival's son.

President Donald Trump exits after speaking at the White House on 19 December 2019. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)The impeachment has been reported as a resounding victory for democracy, and for rational minds in the United States and worldwide. Importantly however, Trump's impeachment is extremely unlikely to trigger his removal from office, let alone disqualify him from re-election in 2020.

To remove Trump from office requires a two third majority in the Senate, which necessitates 20 republican senators to side with the democrats. US political experts believe this to be highly unlikely due to the fact that Senate republicans are so afraid of losing Trump supporters in their own states that most have refused to disagree with, let alone criticise, the president publicly.

Even in the event that Trump is removed from office, he will still be able to run for president in 2020 unless the senate orders a second vote, and a simple majority decide to disqualify his candidacy. If Trump is not disqualified from re-election, it is likely that any impeachment will only fire up Trump's loyal base and encourage a higher voter turnout in his favour in 2020.

If I were to bet my hat on it, the senate will vote to acquit Trump, and loyal Trumpists will ensure he is re-elected for a second term. However, even if Trump is removed from office and is disqualified from re-election, this is not the resounding victory many believe it to be. Trump is but one man and his election is only one example of a world-wide resurgence in the popularity of racist, sexist and 'anti-PC' candidates.

This type of candidate is particularly attractive to supporters who are fueled by a desire to claw back the power they believe they have lost due to increased civil and human rights protections implemented over the last 100 years. This disturbing trend has been evidenced world-wide, in countries like Australia, Great Britain and Brazil where the people elected candidates running on platforms advocating hardline campaigns of hatred and bigotry.  

These leaders are key figures of a global problem, but it is not them who we should be most afraid of. They are powerless but for the unwavering — and growing — support of a silent majority, or in Scott Morrison's terms, his 'quiet Australians'.


"This state of perpetual shock is rooted in naivety and privilege, afforded only to those who refuse to listen to marginalised communities."


Supporters of candidates like Trump fall roughly into two groups: those who support him despite his bigotry, and those who support him because of his bigotry. These voters form a unique coalition and include so-called socially liberal fiscal conservatives who place the economy above human lives, that 'harmless' uncle whose racist jokes and creepy demeanor everyone laughs off at Christmas, and out and proud fascists attending rallies reminiscent of Ku Klux Klan meetings.

This coalition of voters has ensured, and will continue to enable, Trump-esque candidates to reach the highest offices of their countries. And it is a failure to understand the strength and insidiousness of this movement that will leave many in the left continually shocked at election results, as they were with Trump, Brexit, or the elections of Scott Morrison and Boris Johnson this year.

This state of perpetual shock is rooted in naivety and privilege, afforded only to those who refuse to listen to marginalised communities who for years have been collectively screaming, trying to wake people up to the reality of the world in which we live.

Over the last few years Trump worked to Make America Great Again, which to him meant to make proud and public bigotry acceptable again. To a large degree he succeeded, however he did not create this bigotry — he just helped bring it to the surface. Trump's candidacy and subsequent presidency showed that his oppressive beliefs were far from the minority — a pattern we have seen repeated in our own and international elections.

This impeachment, and even Trump's removal from office, will do nothing to quell the reality that the world is actively electing aggressively oppressive candidates, not only despite their violence, but also because of it. Our fight is just beginning.



Katelyn Jones is an Indigenous student in her final year of law and is currently writing her honours thesis on the over-incarceration of Indigenous women in so-called Australia.

Main image: President Donald Trump exits after speaking at the White House on 19 December 2019. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Topic tags: Katelyn Jones, Donald Trump



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Existing comments

Thank you for this insightful article and timely reminder that this is not a short term problem to be resolved by removing specific individuals. It is a much bigger and more profound crisis that needs deep thinking and openness to the needs of all in our communities.

Joy Janette | 20 December 2019  

The Senators' fears are why we need sortition in at least one house of parliament/congress, in my opinion. Also, we need to look at philosopher Ken Wilber's writings to help us to come to an understanding of the current state of the world, with the culture wars, etc. - to me what he says makes sense.

Richard | 20 December 2019  

P.S. People in fear regress - this means that the human evolutionary trajectory will go backwards as long as the far right-wing conservatives continue their fear campaign in order to maintain their status quo, and privileged position.

Richard | 20 December 2019  

A brilliant article. So extremely well expressed. And so very true of our society today. Sadly.!!

Wendy Rae | 20 December 2019  

Katelyn you go too far. Comparisons to the KKK are without foundation. This statement "This state of perpetual shock is rooted in naivety and privilege, afforded only to those who refuse to listen to marginalised communities." What does it even mean? Does it mean the majority who are not from a priveleged background are in a perpetual state of shock? And that we dont listen to the voices of marginalised communities? I assure you we do listen and most of us are not in a state of perpetual shock. I support Trump despite his bigotry because he stands up to the Chinese and refuses to let them ride roughshod over the US economy. And because we need the US as allies now more than ever since WW2. As for the left, you'd hardly call Shorten working class given his wealth and priveleged education background. Nor previously Rudd for that matter, with his sneering precocity supported by a multimillionaire wife. The LNP won power because Palmer split the two party preferred vote and endowed his preferences on the LNP. WA, 90% of indigenous are goaled for property crimes, whereas Caucasian offenders are predominately in goal for drug crimes. Not an ideal system.

francis Armstrong | 20 December 2019  

“And it is a failure to understand the strength and insidiousness of this movement that will leave many in the left continually shocked at election results, as they were with Trump, Brexit, or the elections of Scott Morrison and Boris Johnson this year.” Or perhaps the Left just keeps getting it wrong? The US economy now has the lowest unemployment in 50 years with Black unemployment the lowest on record. Trump’s approval rating with Blacks has gone from 8% in 2016, to 34% according to recent Emerson and Rasmussen polls. It seems that the dignity of work is preferred to soul-destroying welfare-dependency. As Black economist, Walter Williams stated, “The welfare state has done to black Americans what slavery couldn’t do…And that is to destroy the black family.” Yet the Left still promote socialist-type policies that have destroyed country after country over the last 100 years, the most recent example being Venezuela. The phoney Russia/Trump collusion narrative was quickly followed by the partisan impeachment charade supposedly because Trump was such a threat. And now we hear Nancy Pelosi hasn’t even sent the articles of impeachment to the Senate. The whole episode sounds like a cheap smear-and-run tactic by policy-bankrupt Democrats.

Ross Howard | 20 December 2019  

We have gone from 'High Crimes and Misdemeanours' in the House of Reps, to 'High Farce and Mediocrity' in the Senate. The Republicans plan to allow no witnesses on either side - they've already made up their minds to save their own hides, and damn the people and their Medicare. Full-time workers at Walmart have wages so low they still qualify for welfare food stamps - effectively a government subsidy to the wealthiest family in the US! Now that's what I call 'full-time BS' The American Constitution needs an edit.

John Saint-Smith | 20 December 2019  

francis Armstrong alludes to “... the majority who are not from a priveleged background...” Actually, the majority of Australians are white and are therefore beneficiaries of white privilege, whether we believe it or not. His failure to understand the nature of privilege blows holes in his assurance that “... we do listen [to marginalised communities]”.

Paul Smith | 20 December 2019  

Your article insinuates that conservatives are immoral,dumb heartless. It’s this condescending intolerance that is fuelling support for the likes of trump. It’s too simplistic to divide the world into good guys and bad guys.

Ron | 20 December 2019  

Exeptionally well written and balanced with one minor flaw. Its the same flaw that Democrats will have in proving malfeasance in the impeachment trial, and possibly the reason that Pelosi delays to present the artilces to the Senate. The author makes allegations "Trump worked to Make America Great Again, which to him meant to make proud and public bigotry acceptable again." The author and Democrats cannot present anything tangible as evidence of what Trump "thinks" or what something means to him. They can allege, guess and postulate all they like but it ain't evidence. The man has written books on "Deals" and his defence lies within, the hurdle of 2/3 Senate majority aside. Similar to the Aus and UK elections, political pundits and pollsters need to generate an atmosphere of potential change to come; polarizing politicians create better click-bait than kitten memes; pussy grabs. The electorates are fed increasingly wrong forecasting/agitating by journos who'll get paid for commentary despite the editor knowing the publication has no more basis than the "fake news" which they abhor because it reduces their profile. My sentiments remain with those so polarized by journalists' misinformation when they are left forlorn with their hopes dashed.

Ray | 20 December 2019  

A functional family unit, functional middle-class tastes and habits, a more-than-mouth adherence to Christianity and the benevolence of the average ‘quiet’ American, Australian or Briton will see you rise through the porous layers of Western liberal democratic society to a nice place. Of course, if you want to rest aggressively on the dignity of ‘rights’, ‘marginalisation’ is probably where you’ll stay or end up. It really boils down to whether you want to be an adult or an adolescent.

roy chen yee | 26 December 2019  

Katelyn, Whatever ideas you expressed that tended to be balanced and rational were finally destroyed by one sentence that came close to repeating Hilary Clinton's 'deplorables' image. Likening Australia, Great Britain and Brazil to nations that 'elected candidates running on platforms advocating hard line campaigns of hatred and bigotry,' is extremist, inaccurate and about as superficial as any political and social analysis can be."

Grebo | 31 December 2019  

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