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Let’s face it: Donald Trump is the elephant-in-the-room in this election. His presidency is so abnormal and uniquely dangerous, that all candidates owe it to their voters to be upfront about where they stand on this vital issue of historic importance. 

So I'll be perfectly clear: Donald Trump is a terrible person. A liar. A scoundrel. A menace to society. He's also admitted in public to committing impeachable offenses. He needs to go.

Trump has bragged about sexually assaulting women — and more than a dozen have bravely stepped forward with their stories of his assaults.

He’s an obvious racist, demonstrated in public comments (from “they’re sending rapists…” to “look at my African American!” to “I’m a negotiator like you folks!” to “get that son-of-a-bitch off the field!” to “shithole countries”) and in public acts (from the Muslim ban to pardoning Sheriff Joe Arpaio to refusing to help the American citizens of Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria). Trump’s words and actions would disqualify any other person from national office, but are somehow accepted by millions Americans. It’s beyond embarrassing.

I recognize that Trump tapped into real pain and suffering among many Americans. He rightly pointed out that the elite have long ruled this country in their interests. He promised to shake things up. People looked past his faults because they thought he was a fighter who would stand up for them. Now, more and more voters realize every day they were hoodwinked by Donald Trump. His policies only serve to entrench the same elite interests he pretends to oppose.

Most of Trump's promises — including Mexico paying for “the wall”, repealing and replacing Obamacare with something “terrific”, declaring China a “currency manipulator”, and even suing the women he assaulted (“all of these liars will be sued after the election is over”) — turned out to be nothing but hot air.

Trump voters who feel cheated are not alone. As a businessman, he defrauded contractors, used bankruptcy to get out of debt, and was forced to seek funding from mobsters and foreign oligarchs. Today he uses his Presidency to increase profits for his questionable companies (in clear violation of the Constitution), now controlled by his sons, from which he has refused to divest. His recklessness, corruption, hypocrisy, unpredictability, and bullying nature have so demoralized members of his own party that they’re retiring from Congress in droves. Even House Speaker Paul Ryan, at just 48, is headed for the exit. 

After the violence in Charlottesville, when a neo-Nazi murderer plowed his car into a group of peaceful protesters, killing Heather Heyer, Trump said there were “very fine people” on both sides. It was shocking, but not unsurprising. The neo-Nazi “side” is his side. He first made headlines in the 1970s for discriminating against African American tenants. With his 2016 campaign, he single-handedly brought the un-American “white nationalist” movement out of the shadows. He appealed to these “very fine people” with dog whistles most of us didn’t even know existed, but which rang loudly in the ears of racists, anti-Semites and bigots of every kind.

Of course, as President, he has advanced horrible, regressive policies. He governs through tweet, dismisses expert opinions, and fires anyone who doesn't agree with him. He's trying to move our country backwards on issue after issue: social justice, criminal justice reform, reproductive rights, climate change, environmental protection, voting rights, fair housing, immigrant rights, gay rights, transgender rights, consumer protection, and much more.

All of this would be bad enough, but “this Russia thing," as he called it, is also enough to remove him from office. Trump would have us all believe that the Mueller investigation is a “witch hunt,” “hoax”, or “fake news.” In reality, “this Russia thing” is a scandal far bigger than Watergate. Richard Nixon was investigated for covering up a botched robbery on his political opponents. That was bad. Donald Trump is being investigated for colluding with a foreign power to win an American election. That borders on treason. He’s already admitted to obstruction of justice, on multiple occasions, and the Mueller investigation has already resulted in indictments, guilty pleas, and at least one conviction. If Congress wasn’t led by spineless Republicans, Trump would have been impeached already.

Donald Trump must be impeached. It will happen sooner or later, and especially given Trump’s reported desire to fire Robert Mueller, Congress should go ahead and begin proceedings now. They could then subpoena all of Mueller’s documents right away and begin their own public hearings. If Mueller is fired, Congress can take over the investigation. If he isn’t fired, Congress can proceed slowly with impeachment and wait for Mueller to issue his final report. In any case, Congress is the only institution capable bringing justice to Donald Trump. With Republicans clearly lacking the will to do it, it will fall to Democrats. 

Now, I don't believe impeachment is the be-all-end-all. The forces unleashed by Trump will take time to neutralize, under a President Pence as much as under President Trump, and our best weapon in that long struggle will always be our ideas. Never forget that we have better ideas. And we have the truth on our side.

This election is pivotal. It could be the first step toward taking back our country, or it could be the last nail in our collective coffin. 

We won’t change the country until we deal with its biggest problem: a criminal President up to no good. We must elect strong progressive candidates to hold Donald Trump accountable.

- Nate Kleinman, 4/13/18

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