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Trump’s impeachment and the threat of oligarchy

Impeach Trump
Protesters supporting the impeachment of U.S. President Donald Trump gather outside the U.S. Capitol December 18, 2019, in Washington, D.C. |

If the United States Senate convicts and impeaches Donald Trump on anything other than clear-cut violations of constitutional law, oligarchy will have overruled democracy.

“Never before in history has a president been impeached without a single article alleging even any federal law was violated,” said Texas Senator Ted Cruz in a Breitbart News interview.

If that be the case, then the oligarchs’ narrative prevailed in the House of Representatives.

An “oligarchy” is rule by a few elites in a society, rather than by the people. Elites governed in Grecian city-states before the advent of democracy. Oligarchy, often informal, was also the style during the age of the Roman Republic, when elite patricians dominated.

Much has been written now about the “Deep State” as driving Trump’s impeachment process. This collection of bureaucracies who operate below the line of public vision—and sometimes accountability—is essential for national security. They become a threat to democracy when they begin to behave as an oligarchy, trying to rule from the dark depths.

But in the current crisis the most threatening oligarchy is up on the surface, in full view. It is what I have referred to in previous columns as the Consensus Establishment, a conglomerate of powerful institutions.

They are:

  • The Information Establishment
  • The Entertainment Establishment
  • The Academic Establishment
  • The Political Establishment
  • The Corporate Establishment

These elitist institutes reveal the characteristics of oligarchs across history: a sense of superiority, a presumption of entitlement, and the insistence that they are beyond questioning, among others.

“I think people are frightened of saying what they think, and I think that’s a bad thing for society,” writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie told The Atlantic’s national correspondent Ta-Nehisi Coates and editor in chief Jeffrey Goldberg. “The problems in the left interest me more because I just think that there’s an increase in—‘intolerance’ is maybe putting it simply—but there’s a feeling that you’re supposed to conform… There’s language you’re supposed to use …There’s an orthodoxy you’re supposed to conform to, and if you don’t, you become a bad, evil person, and it doesn’t matter what you’ve done in the past or what you stand for.”[1]

Impeachment revolves around narrative. The official storyline the left seeks to foist on the nation is that Donald Trump is a whacked-out crazy man supported by deplorables who favor policies that will deny human rights of some groups, squelch freedom of expression, and promote a twisted nationalism.

The Consensus Establishment is much about narrative. It seeks to form the story, make it sound credible rather than like a fairy tale, and perpetuate it. If the Senate impeaches Trump merely on the basis of narrative, then the nation will be snookered.

It would be something like a jury convicting an accused murderer though there is no proof the killing occurred, and no corpse has been found, but because he loves watching 1940s film noir or happens to look like Edward G. Robinson playing “Little Caesar.”

John Fund, writing at National Review, quotes Andrew Breitbart’s belief “that in the end the people who win elections are the ones telling the best stories and controlling the narrative on any issue.”

In Trump’s case it might not be an election at stake, but his remaining in office as the duly elected president of the United States. The problem now, thinks John Fund, is that “popular culture” in its many forms is “dominated by the Left,” and thus “perpetuate liberal themes.”

It’s one thing to see this on a politically correct, Hollywood-approved movie screen or Netflix, but quite another if the fantasized narrative comes into the halls of Congress.

At least one New York Representative believes that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was wedged in by the left in her party and their narrative to pursue Trump’s impeachment. “We’re seeing so much oxygen in Washington get totally sucked up by this desire to try to overthrow the president,” Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., told radio interviewer John Catsimatidis. Pelosi “got rolled over by the far left of her conference,” he said. “I don’t think she wanted to be in this place.”

If that’s true, then the narrative was the great tide that hurled Pelosi onto that beach.

So, the message to the Senate should be this: If there is indisputable evidence that the president has violated the law, impeach him. On the other hand, if the accusations are, in words Shakespeare put in Macbeth’s mouth, “a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing,” then see the narrative as fiction, acquit Trump, and get on with the business of the nation.

Forget the oligarchs and let democracy do the job the founders intended.


Wallace Henley is senior associate pastor at Houston's Second Baptist Church, and Chair of Belhaven University's Master of Ministry Leadership degree. He is a former White House and Congressional aide, and co-author of "God and Churchill," with Winston Churchill's great-grandson, Jonathan Sandys.

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