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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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To Impeach or Not To Impeach

Elliot Benjamin

I have no choice but to stake my own territory and speak up loud and clear that the Trump presidency should not be “normalized.”

It has been about 7 months since my last Integral World Trump essay [1], and it feels like a good time to convey my present outlook on the political situation in the United States. I realize that there are some Integral World readers (and writers) who disagree with me about my perspective on United States president Trump, but I will continue to convey my thoughts and feelings on the Integral World site, and I look forward to having civil and respectful dialogue with anyone who would like to discuss this with me on the comment section to this article.

I concluded my last Integral World Trump essay on an urgent note of constructive determination [1]:

But the one thing that has remained constant for me is that resisting Trump is absolutely urgent for the preservation of anything resembling human decency, much less human survival. . . , I have learned that the most effective way that I can personally contribute to Resisting Trump is directly through my various activist activities in progressive politics. . . . I will be working constructively as part of the Indivisible movement with a focus on what I perceive as the most crucial, urgent, and immediate issue at hand in regard to preventing Trump from destroying the world, and this is the nuclear issue.

Well as it turned out, I took some much needed rest and recuperation for the next 6 months from my various political activities. And I lost heart and became discouraged at the prospect of trying to influence the limitation of Trump getting us into a nuclear war through reaching out directly to members of the United States congress. But the past few weeks something has been moving in me again, as I know deep down that I must not give up on the values of human decency and integrity, and that I need to do whatever I am capable of to put an end to what I view as the despicable disgrace of President Trump, as soon as possible. The United States has become the laughingstock of the world, and the only thing that makes me feel any better about the whole situation is the prospect of impeachment.

Donald Trump
Trump, ‘an abysmal president’

As much as I think that Trump is psychologically not competent to be president and should be removed by the 25th Amendment [2], I know that this will never happen since it requires the vote of the vice president, and I am quite sure that Mike Pence would never agree to this. This means that the only (nonviolent) way to get rid of Trump before his 4-year term comes to an end (and I don't even want to think about the prospect of 8 years of Trump and I don't advocate violence), is to impeach him. I fully realize that there is very little chance of removing Trump from office by impeachment, given that in addition to the majority vote in the House of Representatives that is needed, a two-thirds majority is needed in the senate, which means that probably 16 Republicans in the senate would have to vote for impeachment if the Democrats were somehow to manage to obtain slim majorities in the house of representatives and senate after the November, 2018 midterm elections [3]. And I was quite disappointed to hear Jared Golden, Maine democratic candidate for the House of Representatives, convey at two public meetings that he does not think at this time there is sufficient grounds for Impeachment. But nevertheless, I cannot help but feel stimulated and inspired by the idealistic billionaire philanthropist and environmentalist Tom Steyer, who has founded, funded, and promoted the Need to Impeach movement with investments of millions of dollars of his own money [4].

It also gives me hope hearing about progress that special prosecutor Robert Mueller is making in his investigations of Russian ties to leading associates of Trump, with the possibility of eventually actually tying Trump to the Russian conspiracy, which could finally be solid grounds for impeachment. I also like hearing about the prospect that Trump illegally used campaign funds to pay off a porn star, for the same reason—perhaps this could also become possible grounds for eventual impeachment. My heroes in this saga are actually Republicans—Mueller for his courageous outstanding work to uncover the truth about Trump's illegal and unethical political activities, as well as the head of the Department of Justice, Rod Rosenstein, for ordering the raid on Trump's lawyer, Michael Cohen, which uncovered precious documents that could also help with the eventual possibility of impeachment.1 Will Trump fire Mueller or Rosenstein before their investigations could lead to grounds for impeachment? Quite possibly, but then perhaps he will have gone too far and a Democratic congressional house majority could impeach him for obstruction of justice. At any rate, I realize that these are the only type of things that give me any kind of political optimism in our current world of Trump. And I very much appreciate Black Democratic congresswomen Maxine Waters for her relentless efforts to work toward impeaching Trump, as well as former Republican presidential candidate Senator John McCain for his courageous statements as he is on the verge of death, denouncing the unethical practices and “tweets” of Trump.

To End a Presidency: The Power of Impeachment

But impeachment is tricky business, and the reality is that in our present United States political climate, it is virtually impossible to remove Trump from office, unless Mueller uncovers that Trump was actually directly involved in the Russian plot to influence the 2016 presidential election [3]. Furthermore, as explained in excellent detailed fashion by Laurence Tribe and Joshua Matz in their book To End a Presidency: The Power of Impeachment [3]:

  1. no United States president has ever been removed from office by impeachment (Andrew Johnson came very close, missing it by one vote in the senate in 1868);
  2. an unsuccessful impeachment (meaning being impeached in the house but not voted to be removed from office in the senate) can result in worse consequences in regard to the tyrannical actions of an out-of-control president who no longer fears impeachment;
  3. unprecedented havoc, tumult, and violence can result from a successful impeachment, as the president's supporters can revolt against the president's removal, and employ military tactics to do so.

Tribe and Matz are very effective in their argument, which on the surface is non-committed to one course of action or the other in regard to impeaching Trump, seeing both sides of the issue in impressive historical precedent and political analysis; and one of their chapters has the same title as this essay: To Impeach or Not to Impeach. But they certainly share my repulsion at what we now have as an excuse for a United States president [5]:

Our own views on Trump are no secret. We're among the lawyers suing him for accepting illegal emuluments. We've opposed him on many other legal and political fronts, too. It will suffice to say that we both think Trump is an abysmal president and that we're appalled by his conduct in office. . . . His open admiration for third-world strongmen is increasingly matched by rhetoric and conduct lifted straight from banana republics. In his first year alone, Trump infected the US government with additional signs of democratic decline. These include self-enrichment from public office; appointment of family members to high-level positions; claims that the press is an “enemy of the American people;” relentless efforts to establish favored news outlets as his personal equivalent of state TV; calls to imprison political opponents and critics; tacit support for armed extremists and private militias; assaults on the independent judiciary; and apparent comfort with hostile powers meddling in elections to his advantage.

However, Tribe and Matz conclude their book advocating for restraint, timeliness, and careful consideration about whether or not the pros outweigh the cons to initiate the impeachment process:

Maintaining a realistic mindset is important because the Impeachment Clause demands that we exercise sound political judgment—especially at times of crises. That isn't possible when the public ascribes miraculous powers to impeachment; treats it as a weapon of partisan warfare; or seeks to shift responsibility for the Framers, the pollsters, or the criminal code. Facing the impeachment power head on, with all its complexity and limitations, can be frustrating. . . . Invoking impeachment in ways that destabilize [sic] democracy is thus perverse and profoundly irresponsible. . . American democracy will fare better if we can nurture a more reflective and consensual view of impeachment. Promoting such even-tempered thinking would improve our shared perspective on when ousting the chief executive is really [sic] necessary.

True to their form, Tribe and Matz do not actually come out and say that it is not yet warranted to undertake impeachment proceedings against Trump, but it appears to me that this is what they think. And their argument was extremely effective and had great impact on me, to the extent that I temporarily decided to not go ahead with my plans to offer another political support/group in my local community, this one entitled Impeaching Trump Through Political Diversity. After reading Tribe and Matz's book, I vacillated back and forth, and entertained changing my group title and focus to Should Trump Be Impeached? But then I woke up to what is presently happening in the United States politically, which is the horrendous (to me) statistic that Trump actually now has an approval rate in the mid-40th percentile, Republicans are nearly 90% supportive of Trump, and pro-Trump political candidates are winning their 2018 election primaries, inclusive of a White Nationalist racist antisemitic champion of Confederate symbols [6]. In this present political United States climate, I feel that I have no choice but to stake my own territory and speak up loud and clear that the Trump presidency should not be “normalized.” My call for impeachment is a statement in support of the moral integrity of the United States, as I feel that if impeachment proceedings were at least seriously undertaken in the congressional house, a message would be conveyed that a good portion of our country shares the outrage with much of the rest of the world of having Donald Trump as the president of the United States.

Need to Impeach logo

I agree with Tom Steyer, founder of Need to Impeach [4] that there are clear grounds for impeachment, and consequently I will conclude this essay with the text from my Impeaching Trump Through Political Diversity group flyer:

A discussion/support group for people of all political persuasions who believe that it is in the best interest of our country to work toward impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump. Learn about and discuss possible grounds of impeachment to engage in productive conversations with 2018 political candidates, especially the candidates in Maine who are running for the House of Representatives. Regain a feeling of pride and integrity in the democracy of the U.S. through working toward the impeachment of a president who has: obstructed justice and violated the U.S. Constitution; advocated violence and undermined the freedom of the press; abused the pardon power and concealed crimes against the U.S.; endangered the peace and security of our country—and more!

Notes and References

1) See Elliot Benjamin (2017), Resisting Trump: 10 Months Later from a More Narrow but More Honest Integrative Perspective. Retrieved from www.integralworld.net

2) See Bandy Lee (Ed.) (2017), The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President. London: Macmillan; and for an Integral World article on Trump's alleged mental disturbance, see Salvador Harguindey (2018), Donald Trump's Psychopathy. Retrieved from www.integralworld.net

3) See Laurence Tribe and Joshua Matz (2018), To End a Presidency: The Power of Impeachment for an excellent account of the history of impeachment in the United States, as well as the dangers and pitfalls of engaging in impeachment, whether the impeachment is successful or unsuccessful. I have no illusions that impeachment has any chance of actually removing Trump from office, and I realize that there would be distressing consequences from a serious impeachment effort, whether successful or unsuccessful, but I believe that it is the “right thing to do” in the context of respect, caring, and integrity for human beings.

4) See Tom Steyer's website: Donald Trump's 8 Impeachable Offenses at needtoimpeach.com. These eight impeachable offenses are listed as follows:

  1. Obstructing Justice;
  2. Violating the Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution;
  3. Conspiring with Others to Commit Crimes Against the United States, and Attempting to Conceal Those Violations;
  4. Advocating Violence and Undermining Equal Protection Under the Law;
  5. Abusing the Pardon Power;
  6. Engaging in Conduct that Grossly Endangers the Peace and Security of the United States;
  7. Directing Law Enforcement to Investigate and Prosecute Political Adversaries for Improper and Unjustifiable Purposes;
  8. Undermining the Freedom of the Press.

5) For these quotes, see pages xxi, 219, 237, and 240 in the reference in [3].

6) For references to these statements, see the following websites:







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