Ending the Presidency

By Nicholas Brady

Although things are far from an inevitability, the call to impeach Trump continues to build momentum, even from his former supporters. The list of reasons in favor is large and seems inexhaustible. I’m certainly not here to defend him. Yet, our collective list of grievances also seem to demand a change much more powerful than swapping out an orange-skinned president for his paler running-mate. How can we move our focus from the individual fascist to the settler imperial fascism of the United States government?

The Black Panthers gave us an example for how to radicalize one’s demands on the federal government in 1974. As the Senate was convening the Watergate hearings, the Black Panther Party released a position paper that not only demanded the end of Nixon’s administration, but also the end of the Presidency and Vice-Presidency itself. Instead of viewing Nixon as a corrupt individual, they saw him and the entire situation as a systemic indictment of the United States Federal Governmental. In particular, they saw watergate as an extension of Nixon and US’ commitment to political repression and empire building, “Using the flower of our youth as cannon fodder, the US. empire builders have waged undeclared and secret wars of military aggression against peoples of the world struggling for self-determination…”

The Panthers did not call back this demand after Nixon resigns, instead they viewed his pardoning as another example of why the entire office of the presidency — not simply one person residing in the office — was the problem. On this they write further,

“With the forced resignation of one chief executive, Richard M. Nixon, as a result of the exposure of some of his many crimes against the people, and his subsequent pardon for these crimes by his hand-chosen successor, Gerald Ford (whose action was described by one national leader as “the grossest miscarriage of justice in history”), the necessity increases for justice-minded Americans to take swift action toward abolishment of the corrupt executive offices, as the following proposal demands.”

The entire proposal is interesting and while I am less interested in the constitutional argument on checks and balances, this demand highlights how political instability is not (only) to be feared, but also seized as a context to be manipulated for more radical ends. Can this crisis in federal government leadership be an opportunity to expand the limits of our political imagination and take a risk to demand something that would radically transform the material conditions of governance in this settler empire?

For more information on this position paper, look up “Black Panther Party Position Paper on the Elimination of the Offices of President and Vice President.”

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