Here I am sleeping at the Venezuelan Embassy in Washington D.C. so that a coup government led by a graduate of George Washington University a few blocks from here doesn’t take the place over or send the U.S. Secret Service (and what the hell is secret about them?) to do it, and I keep wishing that the U.S. government could find the nerve to overthrow itself for a change.
The old joke is that the U.S. government is never overthrown because it’s in the one capital that doesn’t have a U.S. embassy. Not actually a joke, of course. And there’s nothing funny about 40,000 people reportedly already killed by U.S. sanctions on Venezuela. But why can’t the U.S. government create a U.S. Embassy, or short of that, a U.S. Congress? There used to be a U.S. Congress that acted powerfully to restrain various presidents, even drove Nixon to run away. There’s nothing left of it.
Maybe the closest other president to Trump was Andrew Johnson. He was uneducated, viciously racist, arrogant, uncompromising, lawless, buffoonish, alcoholic, self-pitying, and only kind-of sort-of a Republican. As with Trump, all of his major offenses, both criminal and non-criminal, were steadfastly ignored by all. Those offenses were committed against formerly enslaved people. In fact, Johnson’s major offenses are ignored in reviews of his impeachment right up to this day, which doesn’t bode well for the idea that at least historians in what’s left of the future may acknowledge all of the major outrages by Trump that people are somehow forbidden to know about now, when it matters.
The pundits knew Trump wouldn’t be elected, and they knew Johnson would be convicted in the U.S. Senate. Perhaps Johnson would have been without financial corruption saving his skin. Perhaps not. He seemed to want to be convicted, as Trump seemed to want to lose the election. Who knows whether Trump would much mind being impeached and removed from office. Certainly the world would not object. Certainly the U.S. government doesn’t mind overthrowing rulers; it just requires that they be far away.
But what to make of all the Pelosibots who used to think that Trump would “self-impeach” because Pelosi thought that, and now think impeaching Trump would be doing Trump a favor because Pelosi and a bunch of rabid rightwingers think that? What about all the Pencophobes who would have left Nixon in place for fear of Gerald Ford, and who have erased Ford’s restraint in office and electoral defeat from their memories?
And where the hell are all the Constitution lovers? What about the people kidnapping and shooting immigrants in Texas under the banner of The Freedom and Constitution Gang or some such? I mean, if you love the Constitution, what in the world do you love it for, if not impeachment? It didn’t actually get anything else right, did it? It needs radical updating in just about every clause — except impeachment, which even Simon Bolivar, the guy on all the walls in this embassy, borrowed for the Bolivian Constitution.
I think what Congress dislikes about impeachment is its lack of senseless violence. The U.S. government never seems to favor peaceful settlements of disputes that can be aggravated with brutal violence. But the impeachment, even without conviction, of Andrew Johnson may have forestalled a reigniting of the U.S. Civil War. Whatever downsides there might be to impeaching Trump, they can never approach the sort of downsides that a U.S.-imposed coup would bring to the United States, as to Honduras, Ukraine, and everywhere else.
In the end, what’s needed is not the construction of a U.S. embassy in Washington, but the dismantling of those everywhere else — to be replaced by small offices, each housing a small group of peace activists with experience opposing coups and/or preventing weapons sales. If you want to get that experience on your resume, visit the Venezuelan Embassy in Washington, D.C., right now.