Impeachment: It’s not just about Trump but also deepening democracy
Jose Luis Magana / AP

This is truly an extraordinary moment. Now, for only the fourth time in U.S. history, a president faces impeachment.

Impeachment is a huge people’s victory. And let’s be clear—it is a victory born of struggle. The American people from many different walks of life compelled the House of Representatives to take this step.

It may not be the impeachment that some of us wanted—but that’s okay, we’ll take it. Rarely can the workers’ and people’s movement determine the battlefield on which it fights. What is determinable is if and how we fight. And the answer so far has been clear.

The important thing here is that the people demanded impeachment—they understood that the main struggle and the defining issue of our time is the fight to remove Trump and the GOP from office. Nothing could be more important.

In that respect we are living in a broad, democratic anti-right moment. It is at once an anti-racist and anti-sexist moment. We saw this in the women’s marches, we saw it in Charlottesville and its aftermath, and we see it on the picket lines in the strike wave which has swept the country in recent months. We saw it in the eyes of young people marching against gun violence and climate change. And we saw it again in the Kentucky and Virginia elections. The march to the ballot box that began in last year’s midterms is continuing. Impeachment is the latest advance we can add to that list.

Of course, there are countervailing currents. A formidable right-wing and even fascist-tinged movement has coalesced around Trump. There is also a huge political center within which both the right and the broad left are contending for influence. But within these political storms, the focus has to be on what’s new and emerging in the struggle to defend democracy and particularly in and among workers.

Winning the fight for democracy—and socialism

And what’s new is workers’ belief that they can win, not just on the job, but also in the fight to defend democracy. This is so huge because only through defending democracy does the possibility exist to expand it. And it’s clear that one of the hallmarks of the different struggles underway right now is that the people are certainly demanding that democracy be expanded. That’s why issues like Medicare for All and the Green New Deal are resonating.

For this reason, while we take note that we are experiencing an anti-right, democratic moment, it’s important to recognize the country is also in the midst of a “socialist moment.” People are becoming more radicalized and drawing deeper conclusions about the system as whole, and not just individual political personalities.

This socialist moment should not be understood narrowly: to do so would be a big mistake. Instead, the socialist moment should be understood broadly. It is an affirmative expression, an expression of hope. It is a reach for a positive solution, an expansion of democracy that brings forward the economic and social rights of the people. Impeachment is one of the central battlegrounds of that fight for democracy in the immediate days ahead, but this is a struggle that goes further—to the 2020 elections and far beyond.

Impeachment: The center of struggle

For now, it’s clear that impeachment will be at the center of struggle for the next several weeks until the Senate trial and vote. The Communist Party, along with the whole left, should actively join the fight. How? By taking a lesson from the college students who held up an “Impeach Trump Now” banner spelled out on their jerseys at a recent football game; or by hanging banners on highway overpasses; or by joining upcoming demonstrations and rallies organized by the people’s movement.

Send letters to the editor, circulate memes online, share articles from People’s, and other sources. The point is that everyone should work with together to create a groundswell of activity. Impeachment cannot be left to the politicians alone—they need support and pressure from below. By working in this way, we will help create an atmosphere of a workers’ and people’s impeachment.

The hearings in the House have had an impact, and there is surely more to come. The televised testimony has revealed basic issues around imperialist foreign policy, Trump and Giuliani’s corruption, the abuse of power, extortion, and bribery. As people have time to digest these revelations and witness the trial unfold next year, more minds will certainly change, especially once the election campaign heats up.

Beating Trump and the GOP in the 2020 elections

And as the election heats up, it has to be a top priority to get involved in the campaigns in every way possible—locally, at the state level, and nationally.

With respect to the Democratic Party primary campaigns, it’s important not to get too focused on endorsing this or that candidate, but rather work to build unity on the issues. Of course, with a focus on the major issues of importance to the working class and keeping in mind the need to advance the “socialist moment” we’re living in, one can’t help but welcome the candidacies of Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and other labor-oriented candidates who are women, people of color, and from the LGBTQ community.

But it’s also necessary to take note of the entry of other candidates into the race whose aim is to shore up the centrist—and big money—contingent in the Democratic Party. While left-center unity is critical to defeating Trump, it’s unclear what some of the late entries (think Bloomberg) have that the centrists whose campaigns collapsed didn’t have, other than perhaps a silver-filled war chest in one case and a silver tongue in another.

Clearly, unity in the broad front against Trump is a critical issue and an insistence on the most advanced planks of the left cannot be narrowly considered as the sole basis for building it. But neither can out-of-hand dismissals of advanced democratic issues—like Medicare for All and Green New Deal—be a platform to build broad support. Had, for example, a public option or free university education not been advanced in past elections, these issues would not have been starting points for some of today’s centrists. In any event, the issues will be aired, debated, and decided during the primaries and settled in the conventions.

Building working-class leadership

From now until the Democratic Party convention it’s necessary to get involved in as many local campaigns and struggles as possible. And come summer, in the national campaign to defeat Trump and flip GOP districts. This should be done unapologetically—the fascist danger posed by the Trump forces must be pushed back.

How to get involved is important. Hooking up with local labor and grassroots phone banks and GOTV efforts is the best way to build relationships, work toward political independence, and lay the basis for ongoing work.

Where possible, independent left and Communist candidates should be fielded at the local level. This can be a vital means of exposing the right-wing danger, building political independence, and building the left. All such efforts should be as broadly based as possible.

In all coalition-building efforts, the working class and its needs must remain the center of political gravity and not just another group in the alliance. It might sound like an old idea, but as the current era of strikes and mass organizing is showing, the working class is still the mover and shaker of contemporary history. Fighting for its political independence is the struggle that will determine the course of events. To really win the big battles—and realize the potential of the “socialist moment”—the working class has got to be the leading political, intellectual, and cultural force.

But even when talking about the working class and its leading role, that can’t be conceived of narrowly or in isolation from other social forces and their struggles. I’m talking about people of color, women, LGBTQ, movements around climate change, gun violence, etc.—these are independent movements that play a huge role in the struggle. And if you want to talk about revolution, you’ve got to engage with and be part of these movements. This is particularly true with regard to fighting racism, which remains the central issue for building class and democratic unity.

Socialist opportunity

To make the most of the “socialist moment,” it’s necessary to bring forward working-class, anti-racist, and anti-sexist positions to every struggle. And that means connecting them to the deeper problems of the capitalist system. That used to be called the “communist plus”—a value-added contribution to every fight. That’s what made the Communist Party both unique and at the same time part of the broader movement. The task is to bring this “plus” to every effort and organization we are a part of.

Look at it this way: Everyone needs something positive to fight for, something to say yes to. We need to push the notion that, if we are united, we can make real change. Looking back over the past few years, it’s really quite obvious why Bernie Sanders’ campaign and AOC’s victory have generated such a huge conversation. If you think about it, there’s a national conversation going on about socialism 2.0—about what socialism will look like in our country. This moment is a door, a window of opportunity for us to add to and deepen the conversation.

And so as we join the fight around impeachment and in the upcoming election campaign, let’s make the most of that opportunity. Link the issues that are moving people today with those big questions about how to build unity and change the capitalist system as a whole. Make the impeachment of Trump and the 2020 elections moments of socialist opportunity.


Joe Sims
Joe Sims

Joe Sims is co-chair of the Communist Party USA. He is also a senior editor of People's World and loves biking.