Democracy, such as it is, really is in danger.
History is full of examples of Mass Hysterias. They happen fairly often. The cool thing about mass hysterias is that you don’t know when you are in one. But sometimes the people who are not experiencing the mass hysteria can recognize when others are experiencing one, if they know what to look for.
Saturday, August 12th, will go down as a dark day for America. A coalition of white nationalists attempted to rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Young and old donned swastikas. White militia in full camouflage and many openly carrying weapons set out to “protect” the demonstrators. Angry men and women screamed vile and racist slogans. Violence broke out with counter-protesters. Then James Alex Fields, Jr., a 20-year-old from Ohio, decided to plow his car into a peaceful crowd protesting the racist spectacle. Heather Heyer of Charlottesville was killed and at least 19 people were...
As the worst week in a cursed presidency wound down, I spotted more and more forecasts that Donald Trump would resign, including from Tony Schwartz, who wrote “The Art of the Deal” for Trump and presumably understands his tortured psyche.
Rather than denounce only the execrable white supremacists and swastika-wielding neo-Nazis who organized Saturday's hate-o-rama in Charlottesville, Virginia, Trump observed that there was violence coming from the KKK side and from extreme Leftists who opposed them with force — not with tranquility, as did those at a peaceful vigil Wednesday night.
Adil Oksuz, accused of directing the 2016 coup attempt, has been missing since July that year
The movement to unmoor Confederate monuments gained momentum in 2015, when self-proclaimed white supremacist Dylan Roof posed with a Confederate flag and murdered nine African Americans in a Charleston, SC, church. Activists and politicians worked together to take down the flag in the state and abolish other reminders of hate and bigotry in the South.
Claiming that the movement to remove Confederate monuments is an assault on the country’s heritage and culture, alt-right groups have used the issue to increase their ranks and promote their message of white supremacy. They received a boost from the election of President Donald Trump, who not only refused to single out extremists for inciting the violence in Charlottesville, VA last week, but also falsely accused counter-protesters of violently “charging in without a permit.”
Ironically, but maybe not surprisingly, calls to dismantle more monuments have increased since Saturday’s rally — which came to a head when one of the white supremacists drove his car into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing one woman and injuring 19 others.
Baltimore was the first to act, moving to dismantle statues of Lee and his fellow Confederate General Stonewall Jackson.
The reactions were as polarizing as could be expected. Maine Governor Paul LePage said that razing a Confederate monument is like razing a tribute to a 9/11 victim.
Both the tragedy in Charlottesville and the ongoing battle over the preservation of Confederate historical monuments — perceived symbols of white supremacy — point to a growing rift between the ways different racial groups view America’s past. With more than 700 markers left, that rift isn’t likely to shrink.
The majority of Confederate monuments were built between the 1890s and 1960s, which happens to coincide with the establishment of Jim Crow. The statues were often erected during periods in which the South was sharply resisting political rights for African Americans.
History reminders, or white supremacy propaganda?
Click on the videos below to discover some of the more nuanced arguments for and against the removal of Confederate statues.
Related front page panorama photo credit: Adapted by WhoWhatWhy from Stone Mountain Memorial (Peter Kaminski / Flickr – CC BY 2.0).
The post Confederate Monuments: History Lessons or Symbols of White Supremacy? appeared first on WhoWhatWhy.
Operation comes as Hezbollah launches similar action with the Syrian army; the Lebanese forces deny any coordination
Staff at a Welsh tech firm are caught up in an FBI probe into an IS plot that stretches from Bangladesh and Syria to the US
While it's impossible to know when and where a revolution is going to happen and under what conditions, there is currently a broad radicalization taking place internationally and in the US, with large numbers of people not accepting the capitalist status quo, says labor historian and author Paul LeBlanc.
While it's impossible to know when and where a revolution is going to happen and under what conditions, there is currently a broad radicalization taking place internationally and in the US, with large numbers of people not accepting the capitalist status quo, says labor historian and author Paul LeBlanc. (Photo by Darrian Traynor / Getty Images)
Labor historian Paul Le Blanc is the author of more than 20 books and has served as an editor of the eight-volume International Encyclopedia of Revolution and Protest (2009) and of the Complete Works of Rosa Luxemburg (begun in 2013). Le Blanc has more than half a century of activist experience in social movements and is an internationally recognized scholar of working-class history and revolutionary politics.
In this interview, Le Blanc discusses the radicalization process that he sees unfolding in the United States today and possible revolutionary strategies for the future.
Vaios Triantafyllou: Given the current shape of the left in the United States and in Europe, do you think that it is possible to build a revolutionary movement that is conscious of its demands and tactics? What would the role of the vanguard of the working class be in this process, and how would spontaneity be nurtured into consciousness?
Paul LeBlanc: I think that, as you said, there is this broad radicalization that is taking place internationally ... with large numbers of people not accepting the status quo, challenging the status quo, reacting against the status quo (which is a capitalist status quo).... All of this does create circumstances for the coming together of a substantial left-wing force in American politics, and I think the same thing has happened in various other countries. There is nothing automatic about that. It may not be realized, but possibilities exist now that haven't existed for years in this country for that kind of left-wing development.
I want to talk more about both the word vanguard and the word working class, because they are both so important.
The working class is comprised of people who are selling their ability to work for a paycheck. The great majority of people are working class, but this [category is internally] very diverse. It's diverse in different ways: it's racially diverse, it's age diverse, it's gender diverse, etc. But it is diverse in a different way, as well. There are certain layers of the working class that are conscious of various problems, are developing ideas on what those problems are, are developing ideas on what should be done, are starting to engage in struggles to bring about changes for the better ... when I talk about the vanguard, that's what I'm talking about.
Things are very different today compared to 1917.... Things have changed, but not everything has changed. So, the question is: Can we find lessons and insights from the earlier experience [of revolutionary uprising] that are relevant to our experience?
One question is: What is meant by spontaneity? If I am guided by a left-wing organization and doing things on behalf of the organization, that's not necessarily spontaneous. If, on the other hand, I (along with my friends, and neighbors and workmates, and so forth) react against something bad that is happening, trying to do something about it, that could be considered spontaneous.
The thing about that kind of spontaneity, though, is that I am influenced by what others have done. For example, some of my thinking is influenced by Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement, some of my thinking is influenced by what happened with the labor movement (my parents were part of the trade union movement), and so on and so forth.
The fact is that there were left-wing organizations in the past, organizations that shared ideas, that engaged in action, that spread ideas of socialism and human rights and the socialist perspective that all of us have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness -- not just politically, but economically. I have soaked that in, and some of my neighbors and workmates may have soaked that in. We don't know exactly where it came from, but it came from the larger political struggles and culture of previous times and that were influenced by left-wing organizations.
The kind of process that I envision, the kind of process that has been taking place and will continue to take place, is this interplay between organization and spontaneity, the interplay between left-wing groups that may be competing with each other but which also are all contributing to the larger ferment. There is an interplay of such groups with the thinking and actions of people who are reacting to their experience, as it develops under the present stage of capitalist development.
There are several movements that engage in one-issue campaigning. Many people fighting for these rights are liberals opposing socialist principles. How can socialists engage in such campaigns alongside liberals?
There are some liberals who have an anti-socialist perspective, because although they may understand what socialism is, they just believe it won't work, and therefore they support capitalism. In fact, the majority of people in this country don't self-identify as socialists. How do you work with them? How do you win them to socialism?
You can't win them simply by giving them a damn good book, or a leaflet, or by having a series of conversations with them. That may influence their thinking but it won't win them to socialism. They have to win themselves to socialism, in large measure through their own experience, and discussions that we have will be part of the chemistry of that. But there has to be a certain experience through which the idea of socialism makes sense. Now one thing that is helpful in this is capitalism, and the way it is functioning right now is horrible....
There are many people like Al Gore who now favor single-payer health care, just like Gore is in favor of fighting against climate change, although on the matter of being in favor of capitalism, I would imagine Gore has not changed his mind on that. But I can work in a united front with Al Gore and people like him around an issue. We can build a united front around an issue, agree to disagree on questions of socialism and all kinds of other things, but unite on the issue that we agree on, build enough of a coalition to win the battle. Now, in that struggle, any socialist worth his or her salt will be connecting that to the idea of socialism and to the need for socialism.... We talk, we share ideas, we do good work, and we show that these socialists are good people and good activists, that they do good work, that they have interesting ideas. This is how we will build a socialist consciousness and a socialist movement, not just by giving people a pamphlet to read or giving a speech, but by this practical experience through struggle, through united front campaigns around specific issues.
Do you believe that some principles that govern modern representative Western democracies, such as separation of powers, would still be applicable to a socialist democracy? If not, what would be the "checks and balances" and how would a bureaucratic abuse of power be prevented?
Those are crucial questions. You make a reference to bureaucracy, and with this we have a cluster of questions that anyone who is seriously thinking about socialism has to wrestle with. I want to focus on that in a moment.
We don't have a clear model of socialism because there has never been a socialist society in the way that I define socialism. There have been societies and countries with governments that define themselves as socialist, but these have generally been dictatorships, some of them terrible, some of them not as terrible, but still dictatorships, not genuinely democratic and therefore not genuinely socialist.
What would socialism look like? Marx, unlike many of the so-called utopian socialists, didn't draw any blueprints of what the future society should look like. The utopian Charles Fourier, for example, drew up elaborate, fascinating blueprints. One of the reasons Marx didn't draw any blueprints is that he saw socialism as organically blended with democracy and with the majority class that was coming into being -- the working class. Therefore, he didn't want to be some kind of dictator over the working class, with his own plans and his own blueprint to superimpose on the future society. Rather, the future society is something that needs to be worked out by the people of that society -- the working-class majority that is going to shape the socialist society. There are some general principles that Marx articulated. But not blueprints on the exact structure of the economy, or the exact structure of the government. Also, it is impossible to know when and where the revolution is going to happen and what the actual conditions are going to be. So, part of your blueprint might not be relevant to the actualities of that situation. So, Marx's reluctance about blueprints is valid.
On the other hand, when there was a working-class uprising in Paris, creating the Paris Commune of 1871, there were specific organizational structures that crystallized. Engels afterwards said, "Hey, you want to see the dictatorship of the proletariat? That's it!" Marx wrote a pamphlet explaining the structure of the Paris Commune and said that's what we want. That structure involved a certain degree of representative democracy; that is, there were representatives elected to help oversee things, there was a multiparty situation, there was a lot of control by the people over their representatives, you didn't have a government so far above the people that the people couldn't control it. All the people in the government were not paid more than a well-paid worker in society, so that there was a close interplay between the genuinely democratic government and the people. Marx and Engels said that's the kind of thing we should look for.
In my opinion, the transition to socialism will require some kind of representative democracy, at least in much of our political and economic life. Not all of us are in a position to be focusing all of our energy and all of our attention to making sure that the right decisions are made all the time on various complex issues. That has to be delegated to people who we elect, control and trust. That means representative democracy. There needs to be representative democracy, freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom of organization, freedom to put forward alternatives to the existing policies, whether they are political or economic. There need to be "checks and balances." The interests of the workers at the workplace are not necessarily fully consistent with government that seeks to represent the general interests of society as a whole. This means that workers need to have some say over what is happening at work -- that is a check....
Socialism will require a certain amount of pluralism, and checks and balances can be valuable. The transition period can be chaotic, so there will be a need to determine what is the line of authority, but there have to be various ways for people to express their opinions and discontent and to push for a different balance from what the balance has come to be in a community or workplace. There will be different parties or organizations with different values or plans that they will push for and try to win others to. That is essential for genuine socialism to work. If there is only one party, with one leadership and one program, you can't have socialism or democracy.
I think that a transition to socialism should be seen in that way. But at the same time, you are talking about people's lives: food, clothing, shelter. You can't wait 20 years to get certain things right. There are going to have to be certain things done immediately or in the short-term. Certain basic things need to be guaranteed to everyone as a matter of right, and therefore there is a certain matter of central planning that needs to be implemented right away. Everyone should have a right to good health care, everyone, as soon as possible should have the right to a decent home, everyone should have food -- at least a basic, decent diet; there needs to be a decent transit system.
While certain centrally implemented policies will be required from the beginning, it seems to me within such central implementation there have to be checks and balances and democratic expression. Beyond providing for the basic needs, there is greater room for testing alternative policies -- we can try one thing or another thing and see what happens. What role can the market play that would be positive? Marxists debate that today. But, there has to be an openness, pluralism, a democracy if we are going to get to socialism.
It seems like a central planning of the economy is a very demanding task, most probably demanding a very sophisticated system, or structures, to translate the concept "from each according to his ability to each according to his needs" from meaningless jargon to a much-needed actuality. Is it possible to create such a blueprint in advance, or is this something that will be developed in the process as you mentioned above? Was there such a plan in the case of the Russian Revolution?
First of all, it seems to me that as we build an effective, large socialist movement that is struggling for power, through reform efforts and people's assemblies, through trade unions, and through our own political party with running candidates, we must have a program. We won't have everything mapped out and blueprinted, but there are certain proposals that we should make. Some of them will involve central planning, as I have already indicated: Everyone should get food, clothing, shelter; everyone should get health care and education; there should be mass transit; there must be preservation of a livable environment -- these will be part of the program. There are limited resources, and this has to factored into the program, so we cannot promise everything to everyone. There are a lot more resources than there appear to be, because they are monopolized and used wastefully by those who control the economy now. But even if there is a democratization of the economy, there will be limitations and urgent needs. So, built into the actual struggles there have to be program proposals that will be implemented if we take power.
There has also to be an understanding that there will be a transitional period. In the Communist Manifesto, if you take a good look at it, Marx and Engels talk about the development of democracy within the larger economy. They don't see the transition as an immediate establishment of a socialist economy. As the working class takes power, there will be more and more policies that erode, undermine and ultimately replace capitalism. What that means is that we are not talking about an immediate transition to socialism, and Lenin was aware that this was impossible in Russia, because you didn't have the economic basis for that. Russia was an impoverished country. Socialism cannot be built on the basis of poverty, because then regardless of what is supposed to happen, people will be competing for scarce resources. Those that will get a little bit more power will be able to get more resources and push others down, and the same thing that has afflicted all class societies will start all over again. This was an idea developed by Marx, and it was keenly felt by Lenin and others: We cannot have socialism based on poverty.
Even in a more prosperous economy, there will have to be a transitional period, which means that there will still be a mixed economy, which means that there will still be capitalism. But there will be regulation of capitalism, the creation of public services that will be guaranteed, and public sectors of the economy. The new government must work to facilitate that with an array of organizations, pluralist organizations -- community, city and factory-wide, as well as national entities -- that are elected and controlled by the people, that will help push in this socialist economic direction. There will be controversies and there will inevitably be some chaos, as is natural in any political situation, certainly in one of revolutionary transition.
So, it will not be a simple process, and Lenin didn't envision a simple process. But what he envisioned (and it turned out he was wrong, it didn't work out this way) was the following: He came in with a plan and one aspect of it was workers' control of the economy through trade unions and factory committees. This did not mean the workers taking over the factories (and there were workers who wanted to do that, and they put their bosses and managers in wheel barrels, rolled them out of the factories, and dumped them on the street). But what Lenin argued, and what the workers found out, was that they didn't know how to run the factory yet. It's one thing to make certain kinds of things in the factory, but then how do you connect it to the rest of the economy and run the economy? It is not a simple process.
And so, Lenin was assuming and hoping that an understanding could be worked out at least with many of the capitalists: they would continue to function, but workers would be watching, workers would be making sure the capitalists would not be cheating, workers would be learning more and more how this operates and eventually there could be a transition. That was the intention of "workers' control" -- the workers would know how to operate this part of the factory, connected to the other factories, and other parts of the economy, workers in conjunction with the central government, and a transition would take place. That was the original notion of how to make the transition.
Lenin was also aware that you cannot have a socialist economy in a single country, because what you had at that time (as well as today) was a global capitalist economy. So, you had an economic interdependence of various national economies, and for this socialist thing to work there would need to be working-class socialist revolutions in other countries as well, which is why Lenin and his comrades were helping to build the Communist International. That issue still is the case, I think, and poses a challenge for us.
But what happened after the Russian Revolution was that successful revolutions did not take place in other countries, and the Russian capitalists didn't go along with their long-term extinction. As quickly as they could, they helped enemies of the revolution, they got out and tried to take back as much of their factories as they could (that's why you need workers' control, too, to stop them from doing that). The result was that the economy was prematurely nationalized. The workers didn't know how to run the factories and the Communists didn't know how to run the economy. So, while there was a premature attempt at very extensive central planning, all kinds of mistakes were made. This was taking place amidst a civil war, under the impact of World War I on the Russian economy, as well as under the impact of an economic blockade imposed by capitalist countries. So, you had a super-centralized situation that was destroying the early Soviet economy. As soon as the civil war basically was ended, Lenin and the majority of the Bolsheviks shifted back to the direction of a mixed economy, a New Economic Policy. They did it in many different ways, it's interesting to look at it -- they made mistakes, but some things they did were good, and they got the economy going again.
All of this may not be completely applicable to our situation. We don't know what the situation is going to be. What we know is that there is going to be a transitional period, that there are going to be screw-ups, that certain balances could be established, that we need to go in aware that we are dealing with life and death issues, and therefore we have to have some initial plans in place.
Note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
President Donald Trump waves from his motorcade vehicle after departing Trump Tower on August 16, 2017, in New York City. Trump is traveling to Bedminster, New Jersey, as fallout continues from his comments on the violence in Charlottesville. (Photo by Spencer Platt / Getty Images)
It's time to urge the House of Representatives to bring articles of impeachment against Trump for his abuse of power and before he launches a new civil war and/or nuclear war. When the people elect a president, they are entrusting that person with their security, well-being and survival. Trump clearly has betrayed that trust and must go.
President Donald Trump waves from his motorcade vehicle after departing Trump Tower on August 16, 2017, in New York City. Trump is traveling to Bedminster, New Jersey, as fallout continues from his comments on the violence in Charlottesville. (Photo by Spencer Platt / Getty Images)
As we mourn the death of Heather Heyer, murdered by a white supremacist at the Charlottesville "Unite the Right" rally on Saturday, and hope for the recovery of the dozens of other anti-racist counterdemonstrators injured that day, Donald Trump continues to fan the flames of hatred and bigotry he has nourished throughout his brief presidency.
The president's reprehensible behavior in this moment creates a new sense of urgency. We cannot postpone consideration of impeachment until Special Counsel Robert Mueller finishes his criminal investigation. It is time to pressure the House of Representatives to bring articles of impeachment against Trump for his abuse of power. We must stop this president before he launches a new civil war and/or nuclear war.
Commentator Robert Tracinski, writing on the conservative website The Federalist, concurs. "We're done with the 'Well, maybe it won't be so bad and we should take what we can get' phase of this administration," he wrote, apparently referring to Republicans who are holding their noses while hoping for tax cuts and more right-wing Supreme Court justices.
"It's time for the 'He's a disaster and needs to go' phase," Tracinski continued. "For everybody's good, Donald Trump needs to not be president, and he needs to not be president yesterday."
Tracinski noted, "In a country where 99 percent of the population is opposed to Nazis, it should be the easiest thing in the world for an American president to unite the country by appealing to our shared values."
But that is not what Trump did after the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville resulted in the death of Heyer and wounding of 34 people. The rally drew together neo-Nazis, Ku Klux Klan members and self-described members of the "alt-right" -- a racist, radical right-wing movement that seeks to rebrand white supremacy, anti-Semitism, anti-immigrant, anti-feminist politics, homophobia and transphobia under a more polished, middle-class veneer.
In a classic example of false moral equivalency, Trump ultimately responded on Tuesday to the racist, anti-Semitic attacks by saying there were "very fine people on both sides" and "many people in that group other than neo-Nazis and white nationalists."
Outrage at Trump's Remarks
A Washington Post editorial stated, "Tuesday was a great day for David Duke and racists everywhere. The president of the United States all but declared that he has their backs." It continued, "We've all seen the videotape: One side was composed of Nazis, Klansmen and other avowed racists chanting, 'Jews will not replace us.' The other side was objecting to their racism."
As Tracinski pointed out, "this was a Nazi march from the beginning, planned by Nazis, for Nazis." The day before the deadly rally, the neo-Nazis and white supremacists marched through Charlottesville with Ku Klux Klan-like tiki torches, also chanting the Nazi slogan, "Blood and Soil."
Five members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, including Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force and National Guard, condemned the neo-Nazis, stating that their beliefs contradicted the military's core values.
A dozen CEOs of powerful corporations, outraged at Trump's remarks, agreed to disband the Strategic and Policy Forum, an elite group chosen to advise the president on economic issues.
After Trump's comments conflating the neo-Nazis and white supremacists with anti-racist protestors, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin), tweeted, "We must be clear. White supremacy is repulsive. This bigotry is counter to all this country stands for. There can be no moral ambiguity."
Ryan is no anti-racist hero; if his policy proposals were enacted, they would devastate communities of color. But Trump went too far, even for Ryan.
So, will Ryan exercise moral leadership and shepherd the House through impeachment of the president?
Abuse of Power
The proceedings would begin in the House Judiciary Committee, which can recommend impeachment. The full House would then decide whether to issue articles of impeachment, which requires a majority. If the House votes to impeach, the case would go to the Senate for trial, where a two-thirds majority is necessary for a finding of guilt and removal from office.
The Constitution provides for impeachment of the president when he commits "high crimes and misdemeanors." They include, but are not limited to, conduct punishable by the criminal law. One of the articles of impeachment filed against Richard Nixon was "abuse of power."
Alexander Hamilton wrote in the Federalist No. 65 that offenses are impeachable if they "proceed from the misconduct of public men, or, in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust."
"They are of a nature which may with peculiar propriety be denominated POLITICAL, as they relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to the society itself," Hamilton added.
No individual embodies the trust of the public more than the president, who is elected by the people. When the people choose their president, they are entrusting that person with their security, well-being and survival. The voters should be able to trust the president to act in their best interests and protect them from harm.
The neo-Nazis and white supremacists are on a roll, with rallies planned across the country. By emboldening them and encouraging widespread polarization, Trump is abusing his power and placing the country at risk of a new civil war.
Five months before Charlottesville, Keith Mines, a State Department expert on internecine conflict, predicted, "the United States faces a 60 percent chance there will be a civil war over the next 10 to 15 years." The consensus among several national security thinkers interviewed by Foreign Policy about the likelihood of a new civil war is closer to a 35 percent chance -- lower than Mines' estimate but still quite significant.
Since 2002, militant right-wingers have killed more people in the United States than Islamic extremists have, according to Newsweek.
Trump has also illegally threatened North Korea with nuclear annihilation. The United Nations Charter prohibits the threat or use of military force against another country except in self-defense or with the Security Council's blessing. After the Department of National Intelligence restated a four-year-old unconfirmed claim that North Korea had miniaturized nuclear warheads for its missiles, Trump stated, "North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen." Four days later, Trump warned North Korea that the US military is "locked and loaded." If Trump attacked North Korea, he would not be acting in self-defense or with approval of the Security Council.
By supporting neo-Nazis and white supremacists, and threatening to start a nuclear war, Trump is violating the trust and abusing the power "We the People" have placed in him.
Obstruction of Justice
Another article of impeachment leveled against Nixon was "obstruction of justice." Even before Charlottesville, there was sufficient evidence of Trump's obstruction of justice and law-breaking to support impeachment.
Trump prevailed upon then-FBI Director James Comey to halt his investigation into former National Security Adviser Mike Flynn's wrongdoing. When Comey refused, Trump fired him. In addition, Donald Trump Jr. violated the Federal Election Campaign Act by meeting with Russians to get damaging information on Hillary Clinton during the presidential campaign. When it became public, Trump wrote a statement trying to cover it up.
Trump has also violated the Constitution's Take Care Clause, which says the president "shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed." He pledged to sabotage the Affordable Care Act (the law of the land), encouraged police brutality (advocating violation of the Fourth Amendment), promulgated an unconstitutional Muslim Ban, illegally bombed Syria and killed numerous civilians, and violated the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution.
Do Republicans Have the Will to Impeach Trump?
An August 2-8 poll from the Public Religion Research Institute found that 40 percent of Americans -- including almost three-quarters of Democrats and 7 percent of Republicans -- favored Trump's impeachment. That poll took place before the deadly Charlottesville rally.
Several GOP Congress members issued strong statements against the terrorist attack by white supremacists. Sen. Orrin Hatch (Utah) wrote, "We should call evil by its name. My brother didn't give his life fighting Hitler for Nazi ideas to go unchallenged at home." Only a few Republicans defended Trump.
But do Republicans have the will to impeach Trump? Maybe not. Of those who took issue with his statements, almost none called out the president directly. Sen Cory Gardner (Colorado), one of the few who did, tweeted, "Mr. President -- we must call evil by its name. These were white supremacists and this was domestic terrorism."
After Trump's statement about "very fine people on both sides," David Duke, former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, rewarded Trump with the tweet, "Thank you President Trump for your honesty & courage to tell the truth about #Charlottesville & condemn the leftist terrorists in BLM/Antifa."
Duke was drawing a false equivalency. Antifa, short for "anti-fascist," is a loose affiliation of radical leftists who chronicle and demonstrate against militant right-wingers throughout the country. Black Lives Matter (BLM) was also represented in Charlottesville. It should go without saying that members of these groups, who acted in self-defense against the neo-Nazis and white supremacists, are not terrorists.
In February, the Southern Poverty Law Center, which has documented over 900 active hate groups in the United States, stated, "The radical right was more successful in entering the political mainstream last year than in half a century."
Moreover, a new CBS poll found 67 percent of GOP voters approve of Trump's statements about Charlottesville.
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-California), a member of the House Judiciary Committee, has called for hearings into the Charlottesville attack and the rise of white supremacists in the United States. But no Republican has publicly discussed impeachment, and the GOP has a majority on the House Judiciary Committee.
Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tennessee), ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, announced he plans to introduce articles of impeachment against Trump. He stated that Trump had "failed the presidential test of moral leadership," adding, "There are no good Nazis. There are no good Klansmen." Cohen said, "None of the marchers spewing such verbiage could be considered 'very fine people' as the President suggested.... No moral president would ever shy away from outright condemning hate, intolerance and bigotry."
The Democrats have mounted a full-court press against Republicans to denounce Trump on this issue. "No tool has been overlooked," Mike Lillis and Scott Wong reported in The Hill. "The Democrats have sent letters, called for hearings, launched campaign ads and promised resolutions of censure and impeachment."
The GOP is at a critical juncture. It must decide whether it wants to become the official party of the white supremacists.
We must pressure the members of the House Judiciary Committee in every way we can to initiate impeachment proceedings.
White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference on February 23, 2017, in National Harbor, Maryland. (Photo: Michael Vadon)
"The problem was never just Steve Bannon. It was and always will be Donald Trump."
That's how Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) responded to news that Friday would the last day on the job for Trump's top political strategist.
Others echoed Sanders on the heels of the breaking reports, saying that while Bannon's departure is a welcome step, the fight against white nationalism is far from over.
"Bannon has unquestionably been a driving force behind the racial turmoil that threatens to tear this country apart. Such a divisive figure has no place in the White House," Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said in a statement.
"While it is appropriate that Steve Bannon go, his departure is not enough," Clarke concluded. "The Trump administration must end its pursuit of policies that promote the marginalization of minority communities which emboldens the very white nationalists who descended on Charlottesville last weekend."
Echoing this argument, UltraViolet said on Friday: "Good riddance Steve. The larger and more urgent crisis however is that a white supremacist sympathizer is the president of the United States."
Friends of the Earth also weighed in:
Bannon is OUT! A victory for all decent people who choose love over the hate and racism in Trump’s White House. https://t.co/uaGGH2Dqt1— Friends of the Earth (@foe_us) August 18, 2017
It is unclear whether Bannon resigned or if Trump, who has of late been under pressure to remove the "nationalist wing" of his administration, ultimately decided to fire him.
The New York Times summarized:
The president and senior White House officials were debating when and how to dismiss Mr. Bannon. The two administration officials cautioned that Mr. Trump is known to be averse to confrontation within his inner circle, and could decide to keep on Mr. Bannon for some time. As of Friday morning, the two men were still discussing Mr. Bannon's future, the officials said. A person close to Mr. Bannon insisted the parting of ways was his idea, and that he had submitted his resignation to the president on Aug. 7.
Bannon made headlines earlier this week after The American Prospect's Robert Kuttner published the details of a phone conversation he had with the former executive chair of the right-wing outlet Breitbart.
During the call, Bannon casually discussed administration in-fighting and mocked the White House's stance on North Korea.
At an impromptu press conference on Tuesday, Trump seemed to express doubt about Bannon's future.
"We'll see," he said in response to questions about Bannon's status.
In a now infamous speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) earlier this year, Bannon described his ambitious plan to fundamentally alter the American political system. The called the end goal of his vision "the deconstruction of the administrative state" -- everything from the tax system to trade deals to regulations.
For now, at least, that plan appears to be on hold.
White House officials, for their part, don't seem worried that his departure will cause any internal turmoil.
"His departure may seem turbulent in the media, but inside it will be very smooth," one official told Swan. "He has no projects or responsibilities to hand off."