Maybe you’re not particularly political, or you’re extremely political and you’ve already got a lot on your plate. Maybe you’ve got tickets, you’re exhausted, or you’re not sure you understand what’s going on.
Let me start by saying that all of those are actually good reasons for not going to protests. I understand all of them, and have chosen not to attend any number of demonstrations in the course of my life for some of those same reasons. And now I’m going to tell you why you really need to go to Tuesday night’s Impeachment Eve rallies, anyway.
A brief recap of what got us here: The President of the United States was caught, red-handed, attempting to extort political favors from a foreign government (Ukraine) in support of his re-election campaign, in exchange for the release of funds that Congress had already voted to send to that country.
In that sentence alone, there are three reasons for impeachment: Extortion for political favors, attempt to solicit intervention in American elections, and preventing the release of funds that Congress, actually (not the White House), controls.
What is “impeachment” in the first place, though? Impeachment is the tool provided in the Constitution to allow Congress to formally level charges against a government official. The House of Representatives investigates and determines whether or not charges should be brought; if it votes to bring charges (to impeach), the process moves to the Senate, which holds a trial to determine whether or not to convict the official and remove them from office. Most of us are largely unfamiliar with the terminology and the process because it’s such a serious step that it’s only happened very rarely in the past.
On Wednesday, the House will be voting on the charges (articles of impeachment) against Donald Trump. The vote is expected to go almost entirely along party lines, with Democrats for and Republicans against, but since Democrats are the majority party in the House, it’s expected to pass.
The Senate will then have to hold a trial, but there the balance of power is different – which means that after all this work, with all these clear and incontrovertible facts before us (and they really are clear and incontrovertible), after all this agita, it’s possible that Trump will be impeached, but the Republican-controlled Senate will vote not to remove him from office.
And that, my friends, is why we need to take to the streets.
We need to turn out, in our hundreds of thousands, so that the House understands that we’ll have the backs of those who vote yes – and will hold accountable those who vote no.
We need to turn out, in our hundreds of thousands, so that the Senate understands the same – that the American people is smart enough to understand the threat this President presents even if they don’t. That we’ll have the backs of those who vote yes – and will hold accountable those who vote no.
Donald J. Trump is a threat – a very literal, active threat – to American democracy, and to all that emerges from a people’s right to choose their government without outside interference. All of it. Every single issue that matters to you and yours hangs on Americans’ right to vote in free and fair elections.
Is your issue reproductive rights? You need to be in the streets.
Is your issue LBGTQ rights? You need to be in the streets.
Is your issue is voting rights – are you, in fact, pretty convinced that we already don’t have free and fair elections, and that America’s democracy remains a promise unrealized? You need to be in the streets.
If you don’t think of yourself as particularly political, this is the one battle that covers them all. If you’re extremely political, all of your issues are catastrophically bogged-down by Trump’s corruption and continued presence in the Oval Office. If you’re exhausted – I feel you. So am I. But the only way out is through.
A lot of people want to be there on Tuesday but can’t. They’re working, or they’re house-bound, or the tickets are for a flight they have to be on – which means it’s that much more important that the rest of us get out there, for them, too.
Please join me at 5:30 pm, local time, on Tuesday December 17th – aka Impeachment Eve. I’ll be at Federal Plaza in Chicago. It’s our country, and this is what democracy looks like.