Trump Impeachment: Witness the Failure of Liberal Democracy!
On July 25th of last year, US President Donald Trump got on the phone with Ukranian President Zelensky to congratulate him on his electoral victory. As part of the phone conversation, Trump seemed to imply that he would hold back military aid that Ukraine would rely on to fend off Russian aggression if Zelensky’s government refused to investigate the family of Trump’s political rival, Joe Biden.
Specifically, Trump asked for an investigation into Biden’s son Hunter being appointed to the Burisma Energy company’s board where he was being paid up to $50,000 per month while Biden was vice-president.
This request from the president was seen by Democrats as Trump using his office, and weaponizing US foreign policy for personal political gain, as opposed to a national interest. As reported by the New York Times, “ the Government Accountability Office, said the White House’s Office of Management and Budget violated the law when it withheld nearly $400 million this past summer for “a policy reason,” even though the funds had been allocated by Congress”.
In September of that year, an investigation was launched by the House of Representatives, which is controlled by the Democrats, eventually concluding in the president being impeached on two charges: abuse of power for pressurizing Ukraine to launch an investigation into his political rival, and obstruction of Congress for refusing to allow White House and State Department officials to testify.
While Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives, this would not result in his removal from office. Rather, his impeachment would have to be confirmed in the US Senate, as a result of a trial into the alleged misconduct.
The Senate is controlled by the president’s party, the Republicans. From the start, Rep. Mitch McConnell, head of the Senate Republicans, stated that, “There is no chance the president is going to be removed from office.” The Senate Republicans prevented any witnesses from being called. What trial has no witnesses? Given this, it was a foregone conclusion that Trump remain was to remain in office.
What prevented the President from facing more serious consequences for his actions? Is it a disagreement about facts between the two parties, or a difference in political philosophy? Or is there something much simpler and crueler at work here?
Popularity vs. Truth
The truth is that the only reason why Trump did not face a serious investigation into his actions is because the reality of whether he did or did not do anything wrong is irrelevant in American politics.
It is not facts that matter, merely votes. The faction that is able to use the support of the economic elite and media powerhouses is able to generate more votes for its side, and these votes are then used to determine what is right and wrong, not any objective measure of reality.
This is summed up in Mitch McConnel’s own summary of the Senate hearings: “We had a vote. No vote was prevented. No debate was prevented. These guys didn’t have the votes … These guys would win more often if they win more elections and they have the opportunity to do that this year.”
Essentially, as long as you have the votes, the President is above the law, and no accountability is possible.
Capitalism – Compromising with the Devil
Capitalism, also known as liberal democracy, is built upon this disregard of reality. It originates from a conflict in Europe between the religious clergy who chose corrupted scripture over reason, and intellectuals who sided with removing religion from society based on ‘rational’ grounds.
Instead of determining which side was correct in its assertions, the economic and political elite brokered a compromise, relegating religion to a private role, while building political and economic institutions built upon personal freedom and the unrestricted flow of money.
This conscious prioritizing of what is convenient over what is true applies to all aspects of Capitalism’s approach to life. Land disputes are solved by negotiation, not determining who rightfully owns the land.
Decisions regarding scientific and natural phenomena are determined by who has the most votes, not what is actually knowable. And allegations of the most powerful person in the land committing a crime are adjudicated not by an investigation into whether the crime was committed, but by which party was elected to the Senate.
And who determines what is a reasonable negotiation, a viable public policy, or a crime worthy of impeachment? In a democratic system, it is the rich and powerful. They are the ones with the resources and the connections to have their will heard in an election and get the attention of policy makers.
This is why there can be no serious discussion about curtailing the power of the banks in the United States, even after they destroyed the global economy.
This is why neither party can discuss the economic or human impact of the US war machine maintaining a global empire built upon the confinement, torture and mass murder of Muslims. Even Nancy Pelosi, the leader of the Democrats in Congress who led the impeachment against Trump, recently confessed that while she knew that Former Republican US President Bush was lying about the reasons for the war in Iraq, she decided not to call for impeachment.
The elite set the terms of the debate, and of what is politically possible in the United States. It is might-that-makes-right in such a system.
The Blind Leading the Ones with Sight?
Muslims need not look at the US President to witness the rotten fruits of Capitalism. Since the fall of the Khilafah in 1924, it has gradually been introduced into our lands, with disastrous results.
As an Ummah, we were brutalized by the rulers the Capitalist powers have imposed on us and left bereft of any tools with which to hold them accountable. It is through this political domination that our societies are being corrupted, divided and impoverished.
While some in the Muslim world believe rectifying our condition can be achieved through more closely imitating their colonial masters, a cursory look at the current US presidency, and the inability of it to be limited or constrained for any of its excesses, should expose how intellectually bankrupt liberal democracy is: it promises accountability but delivers a corruption so brazen that they are willing to call it an impeachment trial even though there are no witnesses!
Instead of looking for guidance from those bereft of it, why not turn to the Word of the Most Just and Merciful Creator, who informs us:
“But no, by your Lord, they will not [truly] believe until they make you, [O Muhammad], judge concerning that over which they dispute among themselves and then find within themselves no discomfort from what you have judged and submit in [full, willing] submission” [TMQ 4:65]
This means that if we want to be among those who have faith, it is incumbent upon us to look at our divided and chaotic state and seek the judgment of Allah and His Messenger in resolving our affairs and managing our personal and collective lives.
Islamic Leadership: Justice as a Condition
Islamic law does not allow for the Khalifah to be a ‘Fasiq’, meaning someone who is unjust, dishonest, or an open transgressor of Allah’s commands. Integrity is an obligatory condition for electing the Khalifah and is important for the continuation of his contract with the Ummah.
After all, Allah has stipulated that the witness must be just, saying:
“And seek the witness of two just men from amongst you” [TMQ 65:2]
So, if the witness must be just, then the Khalifah who holds a higher post and rules over the witness himself should, by greater reason, be just. For if justice was stipulated for the witness, its presence in the Khalifah must exist by greater reason.
And if the Khalifah loses this contractual condition, then he is not legally allowed to continue as a Khalifah, he must be removed. It would be the responsibility of the Mahkamat al-Madhalim (Court of Unjust Acts) to investigate any claim of injustice for which evidence is provided, as the ‘madhlima (unjust act) must be proved before a judge.
This Court would base its decision on the facts of the case, not the power dynamics of the state. This is because the Khalifah cannot remove the judge of this court if there is a case against him.
So, if the Muslims had a dispute with the Khalifah, the matter would be referred to the judiciary to be settled, for Allah says:
“If you dispute about any matter, refer it to Allah and His Messenger” [TMQ 4: 59]
The Ummah if in dispute with its leaders, is empowered to refer them to the justice of Allah and the Messenger, by referring it to the court of unjust acts, which would use the Sharia rules revealed in the Quran and Sunnah to resolve the dispute.
This is not just hypothetical, but this was the practice of the Khulafa-e-Rashidoon. During the rule of Imam Ali (ra), a Jew stole a shield from the Khaleefah (i.e. Ali (ra)). Ali (ra) took the matter to court and brought his son as a witness. The judge ruled against the Khaleefah and stated that a son cannot be a witness for his father in court. When the Jew witnessed such fairness, he voluntarily confessed that he had stolen the shield and embraced Islam.
Islam: The Need of this Time
With liberal democracy unable to hold the powerful accountable, is it any surprise that the confidence in democracy as a system is falling?
What does this mean for the Ummah? It is up to the followers of RasulAllah (saw) to expose these failures to the system, just as RasulAllah (saw) did with the Quraish.
It is up to the believers to show that the only way that human beings can live in peace and justice is based on the guidance revealed to us from Allah (swt).
The idea that we should dedicate an entire branch of the judiciary to check the power of the ruler is not a man-made idea.
It is based on wahy, the revelation of Allah (swt). It is this guidance that escapes people and it is this guidance that we must go out of our way to convey to the people who are rightfully dissatisfied with this corrupt, elitist and failure of a system that is known as democracy but is better labeled as Capitalism.
May Allah grant this Ummah leaders like Ali (ra) and make us instrumental in the effort to revive the Islamic way of life, unify our lands, and become a beacon of justice and accountability for the world. Ameen.
“O you who have believed, be persistently standing firm in justice, witnesses for Allah, even if it be against yourselves or parents and relatives” [TMQ 4:135]