Are the Democrats basically lawless?

Impeachment Proceedings USA: The Enemy Within

Biden wants to fix democracy. Trump's lawyers accuse the Democrats of "canceling culture" against political opponents. When is incitement to violence the case?

Why impeachment against a president who is no longer in office? On top of that, the chances of getting the necessary two-thirds majority in the Senate are almost zero.

"Cancel culture against political opposition"

The response of Trump's defenders on the matter is that the Democrats are aiming to “disqualify the political opposition” with their “unconstitutional charge”. It's about nothing less than one Cancel culturewhich invokes the Constitution, which the lawyers defending Trump's position in the Senate do not speak for. On the contrary: the allegations are inconsistent with the constitutionally guaranteed rights that the ex-president can invoke.

However, there is a lot to be said for impeachment, as can be seen in the live broadcast from the Senate, such as the New York Times transmitted, can track. It is the open dispute of positions and arguments that is convincing of the relevance of the procedure.

Patterns in Trump's utterances

The indictment of the Democrats, represented by the so-called Impeachment Managers, accuses Trump of calling for violence, specifically and above all: that his statements were responsible for the storming of the Capitol by a violent mob on January 6th of this year .

It is also argued that this is not an isolated case, but rather is part of a series of violent incidents in which a pattern can be seen. The following are cited as examples: The violence in Charlottesville in August 2017 and in Michigan, where "partly armed demonstrators" broke into the parliament building of the capital Lansing at the end of April 2020.

Trump defenders allegations of manipulation

Trump's defense attorneys counter the indictment by stating that they cannot provide any compelling evidence. Michael van der Veen, who also answered questions in the Senate, plays an important role. He went even further: Van der Veen accused the prosecutors of manipulating evidence, for example Twitter postings, that they had taken Trump's statements out of context, cut it off, framed it in a misleading manner and thus ultimately lies.

So everything is gathered that hit the news readers in the face from the political disputes over incitement to hatred in recent years: allegations of manipulation, lies, agitation and, above all, the difficulty of precisely proving the respective allegations.

The current impeachment process in the Senate can also be seen as a continuation of the debate about "hate crime" on the big stage. It's about a culture war and it's about the limits of the legitimacy of statements.

The fact that the dispute over this is being carried out publicly through the impeachment process, accessible internationally via the Internet, is a merit that deserves high credit to the Democrats. It is a kind of "show trial", but not in the bad, dictatorial sense, but emphasizing the democratic process: That comes to light what otherwise remains in the dark. On the other hand, the real political balance of power is such, as shown above, that the defenders have the better cards.

"Incitement to violence"

The Biden / Harris team came up with the promise to heal or repair democracy in the USA. The impeachment process is considered the first stage. Trumpism has seriously damaged democracy, is the fundamental charge. The concrete is: Trump himself, with his speech, which he gave on January 6, was responsible for the fact that hundreds of his supporters entered the Capitol on that day and that the MPs felt threatened for several hours.

The reason for the "invasion" was that the president and forces leaning towards him wanted to prevent the election result from being officially confirmed that day. The fact that such an incitement could even be set in motion is due in turn to the very "big lie" that Trump had been preparing for months as President and insisted on since the election that he had been fraudulently deprived of his election victory, in reality he had landed a landslide victory, the victory was stolen from him.

The prosecutors have factually convincing arguments that the latter is a fairy tale. More than 60 court rulings were listed that did not allow election fraud claims. And counted seven million more votes for Biden than for Trump. The question now is how Biden will deal with the 75 million Trump voters. How will they react to the impeachment? Does it even matter to them?

"Peaceful and Patriotic"

The prosecution released new video on the first day of the January 6th event, which, unlike previously circulated videos, shows the violence used by the mob to gain entry to the Capitol and that the vanguard of strikers armed with baseball bats are not simply fanboys are to be referred to that make a little riot for a moment.

However, there is also other film material about the events, such as from the New Yorker, certainly not a Trump fanzine, and other cell phone clips that tend to focus on the bizarre - without physical violence, without breaking windows or threatening the police, more like allowing the police to do their thing .

Trump's lawyers argued yesterday that it was astonishing that the video material was only "unpacked" for the impeachment process, that the timing seemed to them to be part of a strategy aimed at "manipulation". They also submitted Twitter postings that the prosecution used as evidence, but the date of which had been manipulated.

You will definitely hit the credo heart of Trump supporters. As was the case with her allegation that statements in Trump's January 6th speech were distorted by the accusers of the Democrats.

Trump did not say a word for a violent storm on the Capitol. In fact, he addressed himself to people who "should make their voices heard in a peaceful and patriotic manner".

As a central, main, recurring argument, Michael van der Veen put forward that it was now known that the action had been planned beforehand. Trump's speech, which is protected by the constitution through freedom of expression, did not instigate the acts of violence.

If one were to use the evidence on individual snippets of words that are taken out of context, such as "Fight to death", then there would also be the possibility of dozens of speeches by Democratic politicians about the protests following the death of George Floyd. The Trump defense played a video for the senators.

Trump supporters feel called to storm by him

Prosecutors focused on allegations of incitement to violence on Jan. 6 through statements made by Trump. They countered by saying that there were statements from the Capitol rioters, according to which they felt they were encouraged and supported by Trump and understood as an order from their president that the official confirmation of the electoral fraud should be stopped.

In addition, they argued that there was a temporal coincidence of statements by Trump and the events on January 6th. Your accusation: It can be seen from the fact that Trump knew very well what effect it would have on his supporters if he expressed himself calculated at certain times. On the other hand, his inaction was quite evident when it came to getting the critical situation in the Capitol under control. The MPs would have had to wait hours for support in great uncertainty.

Indeed, the picture here is of a president who was not determined to resolve the situation and take a clear stand against the rioters, which he did not do until much later.

For his defense lawyers, who spoke in the Senate yesterday, this does not hold water. They refer to the judgment of the Supreme Court, which in 1969 presented precise criteria for inciting a "Sedition" (rebellion, incitement): In addition to "encouraging violent or lawless acts", this also includes a demonstrable desire on the part of the speaker and an objective probability that this wish is fulfilled through the speech.

Turning into the "intolerant extreme"

Michael van der Veen and his colleagues do not see any of the three conditions confirmed by the evidence provided by the Democrats. The dispute is legal. Politically, it has another level. Assuming Trump that he did not know about the escalation potential of his political statements is unrealistic and naïve in times when politics with large data collections is not only organizing targeted election campaigns. He worked deliberately with the intrigue against the system, according to which his electoral defeat was a game that was made up against the "real America".

In doing so, he stirred a mechanism among his fans on the right that authoritarian researcher Karen Stenner describes as overturning: turning into the "intolerant extreme" when the limits of tolerance have been reached.

Here Stenner also has a tip for Biden and the liberals regarding how to deal with internal opponents: "The ostentatious celebration of an absolute insistence on individual autonomy and unrestricted diversity" drives those who are least equipped for it comfortably into a liberal one Living democracy, right at that extreme.

The new US administration should promote equality and justice while avoiding loud and provocative displays of attitudes and messages that unnecessarily anger authoritarians. The progressive political agenda should not be changed; it should just be encouraged in a more subtle way.

Karen Stenner, Jessica Stern, How to Live With Authoritarians

The impeachment process is due to end today with the vote in the Senate. "And so we look concerned / Close the curtain and all questions open". The political theater goes on. Not only in the USA will it be more about freedom of information and information politics and about determining who the internal enemy of democracy is and how to deal with political opponents and criticism of the system. (Thomas Pany)

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