This week’s impeachment hearings have plenty of bluster and tap-dancing by Republicans desperate to shift focus away from Donald Trump’s wrongdoings.
It’s a clown show, to be sure, but no matter what the outcome from the hearings, Americans deserve this process. Every single Republican who supports Trump should be forced to say as much, on the record, for the history books. That shame should follow them.
But we can’t expect impeachment to save us. It won’t: The damage to our democracy has been done, and no matter how or when Trump leaves office, we’ll need to have a major reckoning that goes beyond the Hill.
Because the racism, misogyny, and corruption that has defined this presidency is not just about the president; it’s about every Republican that let it happen, every American who cast a vote for a bigot, every Fox News host that lied to their audience. Really, it’s about all of us.
An impeachment won’t grant us absolution from operating concentration camps.
This week, the Southern Poverty Law Center reported on White House senior policy advisor Stephen Miller, whose leaked emails show disturbing ties to white nationalist propaganda and thinking. Miller’s racism has been well-known, but the emails make his bigotry inarguable. SPLC looked at over 900 emails sent between 2015 and 2016 to the white nationalist website Breitbart, most of which were about race and immigration. An impeachment won’t change the fact that a white supremacist has been shaping American immigration policy for years.
We also learned this week that the U.S. has detained and held 70,000 migrant children over the last year— an atrocity that will, and should, define America for generations. Babies and toddlers have been separated from their parents, causing irreparable harm and trauma. Children have been denied soap and diapers, with seven-year-olds trying to care for infants who have been torn from their mothers’ arms. An impeachment won’t grant us absolution from operating concentration camps.
The FBI reported this weekthat hate crimes in this country have hit a 16-year high, with an increase in attacks against Latinos, and physical assaults. We can get rid of a president who calls Mexicans rapists and nonwhite countries “shitholes,” but an impeachment won’t reduce the hate that has been stoked and encouraged over the last few years.
The president has been accused of rape or sexual assault by two dozen women. He has mocked these women as too ugly to rape, or liars and opportunists, even though his own behavior and words have backed up their stories. This accused rapist nominated Brett Kavanaugh, a man accused of sexual assault, to the Supreme Court, where he will sit until he dies. Trump has also nominated a record 43 appeals court judges and 99 district court judges, many of whom seem either too unqualified or ideologically extreme to hold such lofty positions. An impeachment won’t stop women from having to live with the leadership and decisions of men who hate and hurt them.
None of this is to say that the impeachment hearings and process are all in vain. They’re not. But the finger-crossing and hope that some have attached to impeachment feel so far removed to the deeper issues we need to grapple with. The shame of these past three years will remain whether Trump is in office or not. Impeachment is a necessity, but it’s far from a solution.