Many of our right-wing brothers and sisters, devotees of Breitbart and Fox and their hirelings in Congress, are dithering over the looming impeachment of Donald Trump. They argue, first, that Democrats have been trying to unseat Trump since his presidency began. And, second, they believe this effort is supported by a powerful and sinister force operating deep within the fiery bowels of the government — the very, very scary “Deep State.”
Regarding the first argument, some Democratic office holders did, in fact, believe that Trump’s campaign behavior and early presidential behavior warranted impeachment. Some also wanted to impeach after the Mueller report, pointing to Trump’s obstruction of justice and the Russian hacking campaign that he encouraged. Some also felt that Trump’s racism and xenophobia — manifested in his Mexico border wall mania, his reaction to the White Nationalist murder in Charlottesville and his anti-immigrant legislation — warranted removal from office.
Clearly Trump stepped into the Oval Office not only tainted but also leading, Pied-Piper-like, a caravan of grifters and toadies: family members, appointees and advisers accused of conflicts of interest, bank fraud, tax fraud, campaign violations, consorting with Russian agents, misuse of public funds, influence peddling, self-enrichment, working for foreign governments, failure to disclose information, perjury and violating ethics rules. Some of his “best people” were under investigation or facing lawsuits, others have resigned and six have either been convicted or pleaded guilty, including three for lying to government officials.
Names like Manafort, Cohen, Stone, Flynn, Gates, De Vos, Pruitt, Zinke, Guiliani, Perry, and Don Jr. have become household names, like Gotti and Gambino. So, while early calls for impeachment may have been premature, they were not without merit or foundation.
Regarding the second argument: No, the impeachment inquiry is not the product of a “Deep State.” The “Deep State” is a canard propagated by conspiracy-minded fetishists. The phrase itself is a catchy spy-novel confection coined by Trump’s pal, Turkish dictator Erdogan. He used it to justify his violent suppression of the Turkish military, intelligence, judiciary, and free press after an attempted coup failed to unseat him. “Breitbart” and Steve Bannon appropriated this punchy phrase, then fed it to Fox and Trump.
The “Deep State” did not cause Trump to extort campaign help from the Ukrainian president any more than it caused him to bribe a porn star, cash in on his hotels, golf courses, or genuflect before his hero, Vlad Putin.
Nor is the “Deep State” responsible for the chaos in the White House — this hive of feuding factions and egos, populated by eager minions bowing and scraping for Trump’s favor or scurrying like mice to avoid his ire.
Administration aides, not the “Deep State,” have documented his mercurial temper, his short attention span, his insatiable need for attention and affirmation, his troublesome impulsivity, his impatience with the law, judges, indeed the entire judicial system.
Trump’s impeachment dilemma is not the fault of the “Deep State.” He has only himself to blame. By scuttling many democratic norms, he has disturbed the equilibrium and balance of the “body politic,” specifically the government’s balance of power. Congress’ reaction to Trump’s attempt to usurp legislative and judicial prerogatives is both predictable and natural.
In her “Feeling and Form,” philosopher Susanne Langer, discusses such natural phenomena in more universal terms as “organic processes:”
“An organism tends to keep its equilibrium amid the bombardment of aimless forces that beset it, to regain its equilibrium when it has been disturbed, and to pursue a sequence of actions dictated by the need of keeping all its interdependent parts constantly renewed, their structures intact.”
She further states that “when this rhythm is disturbed, all activities are modified by the break; the organism as a whole is out of balance [and]...it struggles to retrieve its original dynamic by overcoming and removing the obstacle.”
Donald Trump disturbed the equilibrium of America’s “body politic” by tampering with our electoral system and attempting to alter our government’s balance of powers, believing “he alone” should manage all the branches of government. Impeachment is the constitutional means “to overcome and remove the obstacle” and to “retrieve the original dynamic” by restoring the power balance and equilibrium in our government.
Instrumental in this effort have been the career diplomats and public servants who, as “fact witnesses,” have stepped forward, in defiance of the White House, to testify about the extortion and shadow foreign policy that threaten our national security. By demonstrating the courage sadly lacking among Republican politicians, they have risked their careers, their reputations, and even their personal safety. But their willingness to honor their oath to “uphold and defend the Constitution” (rather than a corrupt president), may help the government “renew its interdependent parts,” and restore the constitutionally-mandated balance of power.