US incredibly vulnerable as Trump is impeached

15 January 2021

UC Head of Political Science Professor Alex Tan comments on the impeachment of Donald Trump.

  • Alex Tan

    Alex Tan is Head of Department and Professor of Political Science and International Relations at the University of Canterbury.

Is this a move towards restoring democracy to the US?

It is more a move towards restoring some order and re-emphasize the concept that no-one is above the law. More importantly, the impeachment is a deterrence against a future president that will try to pull another seditious stunt like the one Trump did.


Why is it important for the post-Trump era?

It is important because the events since the November election and especially the last week shows 1) how vulnerable and fragile a democracy can be…even if it is an old democracy that is supposedly consolidated and institutionalised, 2) that deep hyper partisanship and political polarisation is very serious in the US and would require addressing, and 3) that US system needs to be reformed to prevent something like to happen again. Americans can no longer assume ‘American exceptionalism’ as things that happen in so-called third world countries or autocracies can also happen to the US. The ‘failure of imagination’ amongst Americans and especially the Republican enablers have led to the crisis in American democracy. They have failed to imagine that these things can also happen in the US.


What does it mean for the next seven days?

The US has to be on guard as Trump is still the president and the long period of transfer of power makes the US incredibly vulnerable. My view is that the US needs to change the system and make a shorter transition of power or come up with rules that prevent a president that has been voted out or is leaving to have so much influence and power. The US in the next seven days will have to be vigilant as well if FBI and counter-terrorism agencies are correct that there could be violence leading up to January 20.


What does it say about Trump that he is the first President to be impeached twice?

Simply put…he will go down in American history as the worst president and he will also go down in US history as a failed and seditious president that seeks out to destroy US democracy. History books will look at this period 2016-2020 as an important inflection point in US history…question is where they go from there. With the negative partisanship and deep polarisation in the US right now it seems that the jury is out whether the US will come out okay.

 

Will Trump’s video message on Twitter today, where he called for calm, ease tensions and possible protests?

I don’t think so. Trump’s messages in the past four years are like a dog-whistle to his base supporters. Not sure what he means by staying calm. Is it a calm like being in the eye of a hurricane? Does the word ‘calm’ stands for a coded message to his base and radical supporters? There is no way to tell.

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