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INTEGRAL WORLD: EXPLORING THEORIES OF EVERYTHING
An independent forum for a critical discussion of the integral philosophy of Ken Wilber



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Elliot BenjaminElliot Benjamin is a philosopher, mathematician, musician, counselor, writer, with Ph.Ds in mathematics and psychology and the author of over 150 published articles in the fields of humanistic and transpersonal psychology, pure mathematics, mathematics education, spirituality & the awareness of cult dangers, art & mental disturbance, and progressive politics. He has also written a number of self-published books, such as: The Creative Artist, Mental Disturbance, and Mental Health. See also: www.benjamin-philosopher.com.

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Reducing Trump's Destruction, Rethinking Impeachment

A More Integrative Perspective

Elliot Benjamin

NOTE: This essay has been written over a period of three days, from the day before the U.S. midterm elections to the day after the elections.

11/5: 8:00 p.m.

Make no mistake about it—I will miss being on the impeachment bandwagon.

In my previous Integral World article: After Kavanaugh/Trump: A Personal Perspective [1], I expressed how I felt about U.S. President Trump's overwhelming destructive actions for the past nearly two years of his presidency, and I made no efforts to convey an integrative perspective [2], as I chose rather to offer simply my own personal perspective. However, it is now the day before the midterm elections and the widespread predictions are that the Democrats will win the majority of seats in the House of Representatives and consequently will be able to constitute a substantial check on what I perceive as Trump's agenda of destruction [3].

As I continue writing, I will assume this has indeed become factual reality, and if it proves to be not the case then this essay will be abruptly transformed. But what has had tremendous impact on me is that in order to have any real chance of achieving this potential Democratic takeover of the house, I must concede that it has been imperative that the Democrats refrained from promoting the topic of impeachment as part of their candidates' agendas. For the winning or losing of this tremendously significant test of Trump's power was essentially in the hands of the Independents and people on the fence, and it has been warned by many political analysts that talking about impeachment at this time would be counterproductive to the Democrats' efforts [4], both in terms of failing to sway the necessary middle-of-the roaders to vote for the Democrats, as well as stimulating and escalating the Republican voter turnout even more than was presently done by Trump's intensified pace campaign rallies that targeted fear of immigrants [5].

11/6: 3:00 p.m.

Donald Trump at a midterm rally, 2018
Donald Trump at a midterm rally, 2018"

Well time is passing as I continue with this essay, as it is now election day and I will soon be going to the polls. It seems that nobody “knows” what the outcome of the election will be in regard to the Democrats taking over the house, as on one hand we have the “booming economy” and on the other hand we have the public's concern about health care and Trump's alienation of women, minorities, and educated voters in general [6]. Of course the fact that the economy is doing well is much more complicated than the picture that Trump and the Republicans are painting, as the economy is essentially continuing its upward rising trend that Obama initiated, and it is way too early to know the more permanent effects of Trump's drastic tax cuts to the wealthy [7].

In an oversimplified version, this election can be described as a contest between Trump's hateful immigration rhetoric appealing to his right wing base, and the growing concerns of a wide range of voters about Trump's various ethical quagmires, as well as what a number of people view as his excessively harsh and uncaring treatment of immigrants [8]. My own concerns about the Democrats not taking over the house and Trump continuing and expanding his policies are especially focused upon Trump's destruction of the environment and the planet, and the horrifying prospect of war with Iran. But I understand that my concerns are not what is at the forefront of the issues that the middle-of-the-roaders are most concerned about, and I must acknowledge that it is precisely these middle-of-the-roaders who will end up deciding whether or not Trump gets to continue on what I view as his platform of destruction. And it is for this reason that I have changed my tune about impeachment.

As much as I wholeheartedly think that there are serious grounds for impeaching Trump and that it is the justifiable, ethical, and “right” thing to do, as I have written about previously [9], I do not think that it is feasible that Trump could be removed from office even if he were impeached, given the fact that two-thirds of a Republican controlled senate would need to vote to remove him from office (which has never occurred in the history of the United States). And I have to ask myself the question: Is impeachment without removal from office worth the horrific surge of violence that would likely erupt from Trump being impeached? And perhaps even more gripping, a number of political analysts believe that undertaking impeachment proceedings could result in alienating the middle-of-the-roaders as it gets closer to 2020 and Trump's bid for a second term of four years as the president of the United States. So I am weighing the integrity of doing what is the “right” thing to do to preserve the “conscience” and integrity of the United States vs. the possibility of excessive violence and promoting another four years of “President Trump.” And in spite of my earlier essays on the topic and my temporarily somewhat optimistic picture about the possibility of removing Trump from office [9], I must now yield to the pragmatic forces of working to reduce Trump's destruction. As much as I hate to have to come to this, yes I now believe that this means to not promote impeachment.

Well this is what I mean by a more “integrative” perspective, as I am expanding my outlook beyond my own personal perspective of thinking that having Trump as the president of the United States is a disgrace to everything our country stands for. Of course this is still my own personal perspective, but there is a wide diversity of perspectives in the United States about President Trump, and unless the diversity of these perspectives is acknowledged and skillfully dealt with, I am afraid that the reality of President Trump and his destructive agenda could become firmly entrenched beyond any hopes of repair. And on this note, I will start my errands and then go to the polls to vote.

11/7: 5:00 p.m.

And it is now the day after the election, and the results are a great sigh of relief for progressives like myself. The Democrats have strongly gained control of the House, and the checks and balances, investigations, and safeguards to reduce what I perceive as Trump's agenda of destruction will soon be underway [10]. No the victory is not complete, as Trump will continue to be able to fill up the judicial branch with conservative judges through the Republicans' retention and expansion of their control of the Senate. But in regard to my change of perspective on impeachment, it is now even more crystal clear to me that there is virtually no chance that Trump could be removed from office, unless the Mueller investigation comes up with downright direct traitor activities by Trump himself in regard to collusion with Russia, and even then—I would not bet on Trump's base and enough Republican senators thinking that Trump should be removed from office. So the situation for me is very much as I have described above, thinking about the upcoming 2020 election and stopping Trump from being the president of the United States for another four years. I believe it is imperative to not alienate the middle-of-the roaders, and for this reason I maintain that undertaking impeachment proceedings in the House is not the way to go.

Impeach Trump

However, I am going to keep my IMPEACH TRUMP bumper sticker on my car, and I think that the impeachment promotion by Need to Impeach and Free Speech for People [11] still is important and can serve a constructive progressive function. There is a place for an expression of these views, which I am in total agreement with in regard to the actual impeachment offenses committed by President Trump. For me, the importance of the separation comes into play in regard to the actual political process of impeachment investigations in congress, and this is what I can no longer support, for the reasons I have described above. So it is a very delicate and complicated situation—yes talk about the viable grounds for impeachment and all the violations of the constitution that Trump has done to warrant removing him from office—firing up the anti-Trump voter block as much as possible. But then stop short of actually undergoing impeachment proceedings in congress—and this is consistent with the excellent description of the pros and cons of impeachment discussed by Laurence Tribe and Joshua Matz in their book To End A Presidency: The Power of Impeachment [12]:

To End A Presidency: The Power of Impeachment
“Where Congress is vested with constitutional powers, it is almost always vested with corresponding discretion about whether and when to use them. . . . the Framers knew how to issue commands—and nowhere did they instruct the House and Senate to take aim at every potentially impeachable offender. Instead, they endowed legislators with the option of acting, but not with the duty to act in every instance where removal would be justifiable. Congress thus bears the heavy burden of exercising judgment. . . . Lacking an affirmative duty to impeach, the House is never obliged to take that drastic step unless it concludes that doing so is in the greater interest of the nation. . . . House members may decline to impeach because the nation faces more urgent issues; they definitely lack two-thirds support in the Senate; they don't believe a decisive majority of the public would support their decision; or they have good reason to believe other political remedies can better address the president's misconduct going forward.” (pp. 77, 78, 80)

In the case of President Trump, it is my belief that all four of Tribe and Matz's considerations in the last sentence of the above quote are relevant: 1) there are more urgent issues—namely the avoidance of nuclear war and further destruction of the planet, to name the first two for me; 2) yes there is most definitely a lack of two-thirds support in the Senate; 3) over 40% of the country is still strongly supportive of President Trump [13] so it is hard-pressed to conclude that a “decisive” majority of the public would support impeachment and removing him from office; and 4) I do think that “other political activities”—such as House investigative hearings related to Trump's impeachable offenses [11] as well as possible new legislation passed by the House, can “better address the president's misconduct going forward.”

Make no mistake about it—I will miss being on the impeachment bandwagon. But in the interest of what I believe is best for the United States as well as for the rest of the world, since I feel strongly that reducing Trump's destruction necessitates that he not become president for a second term of four years, and I believe that this requires a strong vote against Trump in 2020 by the middle-of-the roaders—as occurred in yesterday's midterm election, and I also believe that undertaking impeachment proceedings in the House will run counter to this happening, my perspective on impeachment is now changed.

11/7: 11:00 p.m.

Jeff Sessions with Donald Trump
Jeff Sessions with Donald Trump

Things are happening rapidly in the aftermath of the midterm elections, as a little while ago it was announced that Trump fired attorney general Jeff Sessions, and there is widespread concern that the new acting attorney general. Matthew Whitaker, who now replaces Rod Rosenstein as Robert Mueller's boss, may in effect shut down the Trump-Russia collusion investigations [14]. There are nationwide protest demonstrations happening all over the country tomorrow, and I plan on taking part in one in Bangor, Maine. I also plan on taking part in a special Need to Impeach conference call with Need to Impeach founder Tom Steyer tomorrow [11], as well as in a national Indivisible conference call next week to discuss the second phase (the post-midterm elections phase) of the Indivisible movement [15].

Well this is not much of a cohesive ending to this essay, as I decided to remove my IMPEACH TRUMP bumper sticker from my car, for my actions to be consistent with my new perspective on impeachment, and then I got home to see the news about Trump firing Sessions. There are Republicans in congress who have already reacted by conveying their strong feelings about the importance of the Muller investigation not being interfered with, including senator Susan Collins from my state of Maine, and former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who was elected to the senate yesterday. And former presidential Democratic primary candidate Bernie Sanders, as well as impeachment author Laurence Tribe (see above) [12], have stated that if Trump uses his firing of Sessions to end the Mueller investigation, that this in effect is an impeachable offense. So putting everything together, I am still very cautious about advocating for the undertaking of impeachment proceedings, for all the reasons that I described above. But at the same time—it is possible that Trump's actions could tip the balance for me in favor of advocating for the undertaking of impeachment proceedings in spite of the horrific violence and further division of the country that would likely come from it. Much depends on what Trump actually does in regard to Mueller, and how a number of Republicans in the Senate respond if Trump actually ends the Mueller investigation.

Well I thought this essay would be some kind of political ending for me, with the Democrats finally gaining power to put a check on Trump's “agenda of destruction,” but I now see that this essay may actually signal the beginning of a whole new political voyage for me.

Notes and References

1) See Elliot Benjamin (2018), After Trump/Kavanaugh: My Personal Perspective, www.integralworld.net

2) See a number of my integral world articles for a description of my integrative perspective; in particular see Fighting Against the Trump Dictatorship: An Integrative Perspective, www.integralworld.net

3) See for example the FiveThirtyEight midterm election House forecast website at projects.fivethirtyeight.com

4) See Rachael Bade & John Bresnahan (2018), With House Majority at Stake, Dems Don't Want to Talk About Impeaching Trump, www.politico.com

5) See CBS Sacramento (2018), Trump Stokes Fear of Immigrants in Hopes of Getting Midterm Votes, sacramento.cbslocal.com

6) See Aljazeera: News/United States (2018), US Midterm Elections: What Are the Key Issues? As US Midterms Approach, the Issues Topping Votgers' Minds Include Healthcare, the Economy and the Judicary, www.aljazeera.com

7) See Scott Horsley (2018), Fact Check: Who Gets Credit for the Booming U.S. Economy?, www.npr.org

8) See John Fritze & David Jackson (2018), Donald Trump Hammers on Immigration, Caravan in Final Rallies Before Midterm Election. www.usatoday.com; and William Cummings (2018), Outrage Erupts Over Trump Campaign Ad Blaming Democrats for Immigrant Who 'Killed Our People.', www.usatoday.com

9) See Elliot Benjamin (2018), To Impeach Or Not To Impeach. La Voz de Esperanza, 31(7), www.esperanzacenter.org

10) See Greg Sargent (2018), Three of the Biggest Trump Fables Died Last Night, www.washingtonpost.com

11) See the Free Speech for People website at www.freespeechforpeople.org and the Need to Impeach website at www.needtoimpeach.com; see the book The Constitution Demands It: The Case for the Impeachment of Donald Trump by Free Speech for People authors Ron Fein, John Bonifaz, & Ben Clements (2018). Melville House: Brooklyn, New York.

12) See Laurence Tribe & Joshua Matz (2018), To End A Presidency: The Power of Impeachment. Basic Books: New York.

13) See the FiveThirtyEight midterm popularity ratings of Trump at projects.fivethirtyeight.com

14) See Tim McCarthy (2018), What's next for the Trump-Russia inquiry now Sessions has been fired?, www.theguardian.com/; and Republicans Warn Trump Not To Shut Down Russia Inquiry—As It Happens, www.theguardian.com

15) See indivisible.org for a desciprtion of the basic principles and tactics of the Indivisible movement.





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