Opening Presentation from Sam Goldman of the Refuse Fascism Editorial Board at the panel discussion:
Out with the Whole Fascist Cabal!
CONVICT Trump in the Impeachment Trial
In the Name of Humanity, We Refuse to Accept a Fascist America
This urgent discussion was recorded February 8, on the eve of Trump’s second impeachment trial. What actually happened on January 6 when a fascist mob stormed the Capitol? What does that, and everything that lead up to it, tell us about the danger of fascism in America? How does the impeachment trial fit into this picture? And how can people act act in a meaningful way in the interests of humanity at this unprecedented moment? In addition to Sam Goldman, the discussion featured:
- Eric Seitz, attorney, lecturer in Constitutional Law, University of Hawai’i
- Jared Yates Sexton, professor, writer & political analyst, author AMERICAN RULE: How a Nation Conquered the World but Failed Its People
- Paul Street, historian & journalist; author, The Hollow Resistance: Obama, Trump, and Politics of Appeasement
- Frances Fisher, actress and activist
WATCH on YouTube, share, discuss, and act.
An unpunished coup attempt becomes a training exercise and a greenlight for their return to power. In 1923 Hitler was lightly punished for an attempted coup and was in power ten years later. We should learn from that historical experience of fascism. January 6 was an attempt to retain a fascist leader in power. When we talk about an acquittal leaving the door open to fascism, we aren’t worried that fascism might just wander back in. It’s bloodthirsty – they are already climbing through the windows and scaling the walls. Conviction is the least that we can do.
This week, the world will be watching to see if the rule of law will remain in the most powerful country in the globe; that is what is at stake in whether Trump is convicted and held to account. And while right now, it does not seem that conviction is likely, this can change.
The 2020 election was a showdown over the form of rule in this country. A second Trump term would have allowed a leap and rapid consolidation of fascism in the most powerful country in the world – real possibilities of an escalation of the ethnic cleansing at the border, unleashed white supremacist terror, anti-science lunacy killing hundreds of thousands more from Covid. For months before the election – and for years when it comes down to it – Trump claimed that any election he lost would be illegitimate; spread lies about immigrants voting illegally; and in plain sight attempted to sabotage the election, from blackmailing the president of Ukraine to voter intimidation to disrupting the U.S. postal service.
After Trump lost the election, he refused to concede even as lawsuit after lawsuit challenging the results were thrown out. His backers attempted to cancel millions of ballots from the largely Black, urban voters of swing states. His rabid followers vowed to keep coming back to DC to “fight for Trump,” culminating in the storming of the Capitol on January 6. That they did not succeed in overturning the election does not change what it was – a violent coup attempt by fascists, in and out of government, fighting to stay in power so they could rule over everyone they hate with their white supremacist, misogynist, xenophobic terror.
How is it that Trump was impeached for incitement of insurrection by the House of Representatives in record speed without presenting witnesses or evidence? Republicans have their theories. But could it be because all of the evidence was broadcast live on national television? Because we were all witnesses? Anyone paying attention could see what Trump was setting up with his tweets prior to January 6. On January 5th Trump’s fascist mouthpieces whipped up a lynch mob atmosphere of known violent fascists – the Proud Boys, the Oathkeepers, 3 percenters, etc. Alex Jones said in Freedom Plaza ”They’ve tried to steal this election in front of everyone…I don’t know how this is all going to end. If they want to fight they better believe they’ve got one.” Anyone watching the news the morning of January 6 heard Donald Trump, acting as instigator and icon, tell the crowd, “We fight like hell. And if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore. So we’re going to, we’re going to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue…And we’re going to the Capitol, and we’re going to try.” And then, we all witnessed as the crowd of hundreds of thugs, theocrats, and fanatical yahoos, armed with schematics and tactical gear, prepared to take hostages and much worse, stormed the capitol waving confederate flags, leaving four dead bodies and hundreds injured in their wake, a noose and gallows, active pipe bombs littering the Capitol grounds, shit smeared on the walls, staff and congresspeople barricaded and hidden fearing for their lives, all in the interest of maintaining Trump’s fascist hold on power. Every single piece of evidence that has come out since then has not only backed up the horror of what we saw, but shown that it was more brutal, more organized, and more coordinated from the top.
Many thought that Trump – and Trumpism – was over in the days following the coup attempt. It was extremely important and right that Nancy Pelosi fought for impeachment, underscoring that “the danger is here in congress.” And conviction and barring from future office must be won. But since January 6, there has been every effort to rewrite, forget, move on, change the subject. Fascism does not stop out of shame. It doesn’t stop unless it is stopped. Instead, we have seen the battle over Trump’s conviction become a medium for Trumpism to reshape and re-seize the initiative – consolidating the GOP into a fully Trumpist Party that is to say, an undoubtedly fascist party. Fascist yes– open bloody dictatorship without even the pretense of rights for the people.
This is not only a legal fight but a power struggle. If the fascists hold firm, Trump’s legal team doesn’t have to even make an argument, and they will still vote to acquit. And truth be told they have no argument. This is why Liz Cheney has been censured. This is why 45 senators already took their loyalty oath, claiming the indictment was unconstitutional. Why state GOPs have disavowed those Republican officials who voted for impeachment while their colleagues gave a standing ovation to Marjorie Taylor Greene. Trump may be muted for the time being but Gaetz, Hawley, McCarthy, Boebert are not passive sycophants. They are not even on the defensive. So emboldened is this fascist movement that right after this deadly siege, 8 GOP senators and 139 representatives (that’s 2/3 of the Republifascists in the House of Representatives) still voted to overturn the election. Despite the GOP losing the Senate and the Presidential election, they have renewed initiative and momentum – they are fresh rising stars, the light and the heart of the party.
This week there is a monumental necessity and a real basis for an uncompromising fight for a conviction. The full truth of what happened on January 6 and everything leading up to it must be exposed. The GOP’s absolute disregard for the truth or objective reality or free and fair elections must be frontally taken on. Some are already arguing that because it looks extremely unlikely now that they will get 17 Republicans on board to win a conviction, that even waging an all-out fight in the trial over these questions is not worth it – or may even do harm. This is WRONG. For one thing, you don’t know in advance what can happen when a full-throated fight is waged. A stark case against Trump, with evidence and testimony and a real political fight can change public opinion throughout the country, and a mass sentiment demanding conviction can be won through this and if that is won, then that could – even if it seems unlikely at this point – tip things towards conviction. And, even if it is not won – the more clearly this is fought, the more the stakes are clarified, the stronger position we will be in for the ongoing fight we will then have to take up to defeat and repudiate this fascism. The road of capitulation in advance leads to where? Potentially past concentration camps, past “death camps” – to a real existential peril to humanity.
Before January 6, we were confronted by a fascist movement in power here and rising around the world. And it’s not going away quietly because the conditions bringing it into being have not gone away. As revolutionary leader Bob Avakian has analyzed: Global warming is not only threatening humanity, but disrupting rule of the American empire, heightened globalization is ripping up and spitting out communities, regions, even whole countries across the Global South while tearing up the social fabric right in the belly of the beast, all pushing the gaping wounds of capitalism-imperialism to extremes. Fascism is one possible solution to many of these contradictions in the interests of the American empire. While the fascist has been voted out, the fascism hasn’t been removed. And now more than possibly ever before, this country is full of fascists – tens of millions!
If the fascist base were the majority, we would still need to take action to stop them. But the fact is that the fascist social base is a minority – both in terms of population and now that’s reflected in the senate, house, and executive branch. But this only matters if this power is acted upon. I encourage you to read the latest piece by Coco Das, “The Left Coalition That Kept You Off the Streets and Won’t Stop Fascism” up on RefuseFascism.org where she warns against de-mobilization & passivity that has contributed to a situation in which we have a huge Nazi problem in this country, where fascists around the world were impressed and inspired by what happened on January 6, hardly viewing it as a failure.
In this impeachment trial, there needs to be witnesses. They need to subpoena Trump. We need a trial with eyewitnesses, testimony from experts and video evidence all driving home that this was an assault on the very rule of law. Everyone with even a glancing acquaintance must come away knowing that each vote for acquittal is a vote for the January 6 coup, a vote for fascism in all its horror – and that the results of an acquittal will be a further assault against free and fair elections and the rule of law. From the standpoint not just of American lives, but the interests of humanity as a whole, Trump must be delivered a decisive blow, legally and politically, and held to account for this attempted fascist coup. They need to fight to win this conviction in such a way that everyone glued to the trial across the globe is clear on what is at stake. Together we must show the groundswell demanding it.
We retain our decency as a people by standing up and raising our voices to demand that Trump must be convicted and barred from elected office. That they did not succeed (seemingly out of luck) in their coup doesn’t negate the fascist behavior that has been normalized: threats to hang opposition, to eliminate dissenters, to overturn millions of votes. Imagine a closer election. Imagine someone more skilled than Trump. Imagine had we had less luck on January 6.
Refuse Fascism is committed to not ceding the public square to fascist lies and fascist mobs. We know that if we fail to stand against this, the fascist movement will become stronger to obstruct and return to power with a vengeance. We know that any of the positive changes so many millions here have fought for will be far, far more difficult, if not impossible to achieve.
The Senate will likely vote to acquit. But we can’t passively resign ourselves to that outcome. We need to make it politically untenable to vote against conviction. It would really matter if masses of people didn’t just sit passively by, but actually demonstrated in the streets and in other ways created “pressure from below”.
This week, find the ways to raise the demand: Convict Trump. Through banner drops, mock trials, car caravans, op-eds, fight for the truth. Struggle and rally everyone who desires justice, who cares about the future for humanity to join in raising the demand with you. Our silence won’t appease these fascists but will leave them a clear field to advance. So join us this week in taking action. Take pictures and video, tag @RefuseFascism. Join the network that is staying vigilant: Sign-Up at RefuseFascism.org and while you are there click the donate button to enable more free access to public forums like this one. Connect with us on social media, follow @RefuseFascism and subscribe to our podcast.
We don’t know how this will turn out, but we need to take a lesson from Bob Avakian “The politics of the ‘possible’ is the politics of monstrosity. To adhere to, or acquiesce in, the politics of the ‘possible’ is to support, and actually to facilitate, monstrosity.”
In the Name of Humanity, We Refuse to Accept a Fascist America!