Opinion. With the start of public impeachment hearings, the Republican party has once again shown that it has sacrificed democracy for Trump.
Last Wednesday the House Intelligence Comittee of the United States Congress opened its inquiry into the impeachment of U.S. president Donald Trump to the public. For those not up to date, or who can’t fathom following the high-stakes telenovela that American politics has become, here‘s a quick primer: After Donald Trump tried to pressure the newly elected Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky into investigating his political rival Joe Biden, the former vice president and possible Democratic candidate for the presidency in 2020, he withheld military aid to the Ukraine, which has been fighting a Russian invasion. Those are the facts that, by now, have been testified by numerous U.S. diplomats, Trump officials and even the official White House call summary, which the administration released. This led Democrats, who have a majority in the House of Representatives, into starting an impeachment inquiry – the constitutional process for removing a president from office who has violated the constitution. This process is the fight for the core of American democracy, or what’s left thereof, and should not be ignored by European audiences.
The testimonies of ambassadors George Kent, Bill Taylor, and former ambassador Marie Yovanovitch painted a stunning picture of a state department and of diplomats who – under the Trump administration – have been subverted by personal backchannels and private interests. They showed how deeply broken the trust and ability of diplomats to enact foreign policy through diplomatic, rather than military means is in the current administration. Take Marie Yovanovich: While she testified on Friday about her being ousted as
Ukrainian ambassador because of a smear campaign by Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, the President attacked her on Twitter, writing: “Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad. She started off in Somalia, how did that go?” Yovanovitch was known as being tough on fighting corruption in the Ukraine, which she described as one of the most important issues in former Soviet states. Meanwhile, Giuliani has business associates in the Ukraine.
This, however, was not enough for House Republicans to loosen their support for Trump. They even dug in. Through furious statements and meandering questions, elected Republican representatives even peddled outright conspiracy theories. Those were concocted by Fox News, Giuliani, and other Trump officials, saying election interference in the 2016 presidential election was coming from Ukraine, thereby contradicting the conclusion of every U.S. intelligence agency that in reality Russians were responsible. What has been shown is that the Republican party has fully become Trump’s party. When in 2017 and even 2018 there were still some dissenting voices left, those have now either resigned, announced their retirement or been converted to defending their president no matter what.
Republicans often like to put former president Ronald Reagan on a pedestal. In his farewell speech Reagan popularized the expression “shining city on a hill”, a beacon of hope that guides freedom-loving people everywhere. Disputable even then, nowadays it seems more a farce than a fable. The political system of the United States is stuck in partisan gridlock so deeply entrenched that a whole party that regularly wins elections doesn’t hesitate sacrificing democratic values, justice and accountability for touting conspiracy theories.