Statement on the Second Senate Acquittal of Donald Trump

From the Refuse Fascism Editorial Board


February 15, 2021 |

Donald Trump has been acquitted in his second impeachment. But he is guilty as hell of inciting a violent mob and leading a fascist movement determined to seize power by hook or by crook.

A majority of the Senate, including 7 Republicans, voted to convict, but this was not enough to render a guilty verdict and open up a vote to bar Trump from ever running for office again. Trump gloated about his second acquittal, calling this impeachment “yet another phase of the greatest witch hunt in the history of our country,” and stating that this was just the beginning of his MAGA movement.

Let’s dispense with the excuses that 43 Republican senators voted to acquit because they are afraid of Trump’s base. They want Trump’s base. Whatever qualms a few may have about the rough edges, they represent and court a fascist base and fundamentally agree with the fascist program Trump has cohered. They are fighting for a different form of rule that relies on terror and violence, and a society of unchallenged white supremacy, misogyny and patriarchy, Christian theocracy and vicious “America first” xenophobia. Trump tore up the rule book and burned up the democratic conventions in ways that fascists in and out of government, in this country and all over the world, want to emulate. He sent a white supremacist lynch mob to the Capitol—with their gallows, their Confederate/Trump flags, their false victimhood and white rage. There can be no uniting with that.

Now this unpunished fascist coup attempt is at once a dress rehearsal for possible future attempts to seize power in the wake of an electoral defeat and an immediate victory for fascists. The U.S. Senate has now legitimized a fascist party with a paramilitary wing. Members of the party who do not fall in line with even its most blatant crimes are censured and worse. It can now become common practice to deny the vote not just through racist gerrymandering and court challenges, but through mob violence.

Even as the Democratic House Managers sharply exposed what Trump did to foment and lead this fascist coup attempt, the Democrats restrained their strategy from the beginning with the logic that they would never have enough votes to convict. They did not fight to win. Even a surprising last-minute victory, when the Senate voted to call witnesses, was quickly squandered in the face of the GOP’s threats and intimidation. Live public testimony from GOP representative Jaime Herrera Beutler about Republican House Minority Leader McCarthy’s phone call with Trump—in which Trump refused to rein in the rioters, even as the murderous siege on the Capitol unfolded, and complained that the mob must have cared more about the election results than McCarthy did—could have opened up the possibility of calling other Republicans to testify and further exposing their lies about what really happened. Calling witnesses could have turned the trial into a real political fight for conviction, but the Democrats caved. Far from enabling them to get on with Biden’s agenda, this has strengthened the offense of the Republi-fascist party.

This acquittal shows once again that there is no bottom to the immorality of Trump and his fascist followers. Now our side, those who aspire to a more just society, has to STOP putting ceilings on our determination to resist and stop this vicious American fascism. If you are heartbroken, disturbed, and angered by one more failure to hold Trump accountable for his crimes; if you are concerned about what this means for the future; if you dread the return of Trump to public life or someone even worse seizing power, then it is time to fully face the reality that this country is full of fascists. It is time for us to really get into a debate about why that is happening and what we can do to change it. And it is time to stop being passive spectators and channeling all of our righteous outrage into voting. Voting alone will not stop fascism, and fascism must be stopped.

Will we allow fascists to win the battle for the future, with all that means for humanity and the planet, or will we stand up? We will remain vigilant. We will organize and form action networks to be proactive and resist the continuing danger of fascism. We pledge to the people of the world: