Everyone expected the Senate vote to acquit the ex-president, since 17 Republicans were needed to vote to convict along with 50 Democrats. Only seven did so. The trial opened a window on the internal conflict between the anti-Trump capitalist establishment and the pro-fascist wing of the ruling class.
The impeachment alone could expose but never crush this sleazy autocrat, who looked to the fascist scum atop the cesspool of U.S. racism to keep himself in office after he lost the election.
The impeachment trial exposed crimes based on violations of normal U.S. capitalist legality. It exposed the criminal complicity of the Republican Party and the opportunism of the individual Republican senators. All but seven refused to break completely with Trump, including some who publicly acknowledged his crimes.
Above all, the trial exposed the limitations of the Democratic Party in combating the real threat from racist and fascist elements. It again raised the need for an anti-fascist mobilization of the working class, independent of that party.
The main tool of the Democratic Party’s impeachment managers was a 13-minute video viewed by tens of millions of people. The video interspersed Trump’s rants agitating thousands of his supporters to attack the Capitol with security video of the fascist mob’s graphic violence.
The video pointed to the threat against Vice President Mike Pence — the fascists called him a “traitor” and rolled in a scaffold and a noose. Its selections singled out Republican Senator Mitt Romney as a victim. It repeated the many threats against Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.
Using footage from police body cameras, the video also underlined the fascist gangs’ use of clubs, bear spray, flagpoles, sticks and captured police shields against those members of the police who stood between them and the Capitol. (It failed to discuss why the usual backups for this police were missing in action.)
By making the main victims — or potential victims — be rightist Republicans, establishment Democrats and police, the Democratic leadership was reaching out to the right. This was a conscious choice. The U.S. history of racist mobs shows that most of their targets by far would be any people of color within range — including politicians of color like the women members of “The Squad.”
We should make it clear that Trump is far from being the only U.S. president to incite illegal violence, even if his target was unique. Of his most recent predecessors, George W. Bush unleashed an aggressive, illegal war on Iraq that was a thousand times more violent than the attack on the Capitol. Barack Obama’s administration created havoc in Syria, Libya, Yemen and Ukraine.
Trump was unique in that he brought it all home by unleashing fascist gangs from all over the country against other elected members of the capitalist government.
The assault on the Capitol was neither his first, nor even his gravest crime. Trump hurled verbal insults at Latinx immigrants as he detained and split thousands of families, including children, and killed hundreds in the desert. His slander of China has led to xenophobic attacks on Asian Americans. He appointed reactionary judges who continued the erosion of women’s right to abortion.
Trump’s entire administration reinforced the most reactionary aspects of 21st century U.S. imperialism: racist police terror against all people of color; hatred of women, especially empowered women; discrimination against LGBTQ2S+ people; bullying of people with disabilities; insulting all immigrants and cozying up to those who wave the Confederate flag and wear swastika tattoos under the political umbrella of their MAGA hats.
Instead of mobilizing those forces of society who wish to confront bigotry — including the Black Lives Matter movement, the workers organizing at Amazon and other high-tech industries, and all those who need protection from the pandemic and its economic fallout — the Democratic establishment maneuvered with the Republicans, most of whom still stuck with the Trumpists.
It will be up to working-class and anti-racist forces to find a way toward a united front that will fight the fascist movement — which will exist whether or not Trump remains its centerpiece. This united front must also be ready to confront the Democratic administration to demand relief from the pandemic and unemployment and to halt any aggressive moves abroad.