A protester holds up a sign in favor of impeachment outside the U.S. Capitol building on Thursday. From PBS – Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images
Published October 6, 2019
Ya’at’eeh, my relatives. This weekend I sat with my cup of gohwééh (coffee) and pondered the political chaos that has enveloped our nation these past two weeks. Per its design, our simplistic two-party political system has turned the entire impeachment process binary. President Trump’s supporters in the GOP, many who were vehemently and vocally opposed to his candidacy prior to him being nominated (I’m looking directly at you Senator Lindsey Graham) are now screaming at the top of their lungs that he is an innocent victim in this situation. And some, including our President himself, are even suggesting treason from the whistle-blower, and threatening a Civil War-like chasm between the President and his political opponents. Meanwhile, on the left, we have nearly every online and 24-hour news agency tweeting out, investigating, debating and broadcasting the “insights” of partisan political pundits who are only more than willing to jump to even ludicrous conclusions over every new detail and each tiny fact that is uncovered. And this chaos, that has been growing for three years but reached a frenzied pitch this month, makes it nearly impossible for people to discern what’s really happening.
In the midst of this ongoing chaotic drama (which according to psychologists is where narcissists thrive), President Trump cannot decide which starring role he wants to play. If you observe Donald Trump’s behavior, especially since he decided to run for POTUS (but it was also very evident prior) he seems to believe that his entire existence is encapsulated within a single binary. He is either the savior of the world OR the greatest victim of it. There appears to be no middle ground. And for this current episode, he cannot decide which role will serve him best, hero or victim (if you don’t believe me just read through his Twitter feed).
Mark Charles addressing press at forum
And beneath all of this, we have our nation’s white supremacist, racist and sexist foundations. A Declaration of Independence that refers to Natives as savages. A Constitution that never mentions women, excludes Natives and counts Africans as three-fifths human. And Supreme Court Opinions, as recent as 2005, which imply natives are (still) savages and reference the dehumanizing Doctrine of Discovery as the legal precedent for land titles. All of these foundations were literally written for the purpose of protecting white land-owning men (search any of my previous statements, speeches and lectures re: the Doctrine of Discovery).
The precedent these foundations have established is this: at the highest levels of both politics and finance, there is an understanding that there will be minimal legal, ethical or moral accountability for white land-owning men and even less consequences for white land-owning men who engage in immoral, unethical or illegal behavior. This system has worked for nearly 200 years, as long as it was only white land-owning men responsible for (not) holding white land-owning men accountable within this system that was designed to protect and benefit white land-owning men.
However, in the past 50 years the situation began to change as more women, people of color, members of the LGBTQ community and other religions were elected into political office, joined police forces and became judges. And then the entire system nearly fell apart in 2008 when a black man was elected President of the United States. Unfortunately (for the white land-owning male power structure), President Obama was highly ethical, very moral and did his best to avoid acting illegally. While I do not know President Obama personally, after observing him and his family for nearly a decade in the public spotlight, I have learned to respect his character. But I also know that another reason his behavior (especially while in office) was as ethical, moral and legal as it was, is because he understood that, as a black man, the laws of our nation were not written to protect him. If he did act out of line, the system would not presume his innocence. And if he was convicted of any wrongdoing, the consequences would be very real and quite high (as proof I refer you to not only the incarceration rates, but also to the severity of sentencing, of people of color compared to white people in our country).
Mark Charles at the Indigenous Peoples March. Photo by Shane Bahn
And today, the GOP and President Trump are being held accountable by the most diverse US Congress our nation has ever seen. There are more women, African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, LGBTQ and Muslims in the 116th Congress than at any time prior in our nation’s history. And this is sending the white land-owning men not only on the right, but also on the left, into a full panic. Their system is breaking down. Actual accountability and real consequences for white land-owning men is becoming a very distinct possibility. And much of the chaos we are observing today is the reality of that fact sinking in. This becomes very clear when either Donald Trump or Joe Biden are asked direct questions regarding the ethics, morals or legality of their behavior by the public or journalists.
White land-owning men still hold a majority in both the House and the Senate, and our current President is one of the whitest (figuratively) and most land-owning males to ever occupy the White House. But the walls are quickly closing in, our nation is becoming more diverse, and the days of a simple white majority are precisely numbered.
If any of the 2020 Presidential candidates who are also people of color (myself, Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, Andrew Yang, Julian Castro and Tulsi Gabbard) behaved in a manner similar to that of either Donald Trump or Joe Biden, our disqualification from the campaign would have been immediately called for and agreed upon by the bi-partisan majority of white land-owning men. The system exists to protect them, not us.
For example, Thomas Jefferson owned slaves and had mistresses. Abraham Lincoln was a blatant white supremacist, and within three years of signing the Pacific Railroad Act, he had literally ethnically-cleansed the Dakota and Winnebago from Minnesota, the Cheyenne and Arapahoe for Colorado and Wyoming, and the Navajo and Mascalero Apache from the territory of New Mexico, making him one of the most genocidal presidents in the history of the United States. The sexual exploits of President Kennedy are legendary. Ronald Reagan declared a war on drugs which in retrospect was, very clearly, a war on race. President Clinton perfected the art of mass incarceration, and he also cheated on his wife while in office. And after 9/11, President Bush mislead our nation into a decades long war on terror that has directly resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of civilians worldwide.
My point is, the divisive, corrupt, unethical and immoral Presidency of Donald Trump is not destroying the pristine reputation of the United States of America. That reputation is a myth. President Trump is simply just another example of the fruit produced by our white supremacist, racist, sexist and colonial foundations. And many Americans are finding it somewhat horrifying to see our rotten fruit on full global display in the 21st Century.
President Trump is most definitely a problem, but he is not, by any stretch of the imagination, the root of the problem. And while impeaching him may feel satisfying to some, it will at best be a temporary bandage on the cancer of racism, sexism, colonialism and white supremacy that is embedded deep within our nation’s foundations. I am not suggesting that President Trump should not be held accountable, but I want our nation to understand that impeachment of this President is not the final solution. Our problems are both deeper and more bipartisan than most Americans would care to admit and fixing them will require systemic and foundational level change.
Bio: Mark Charles is a dual citizen of the United States and the Navajo Nation. He is running as an Independent candidate for the office of President of the United States (2020). Mark is calling for the creation of a Common Memory through a national Truth and Conciliation Commission. The theme of his campaign is to build a nation where “We the People” truly means #AllThePeople. Mark’s first book, “Unsettling Truths: The Ongoing, Dehumanizing Legacy of the Doctrine of Discovery” (IVP with co-author Soong-Chan Rah) is due in bookstores on November 5, 2019.