Dozens of college and university political science professors in Minnesota and the Dakotas signed an open letter calling for the impeachment of President Donald Trump, saying he poses a threat to American security and the future of democracy from the country.
In Thursday’s open letter, hundreds of political scientists called on Congress, Vice President Mike Pence and the president’s office to remove Trump from office “immediately”, by impeachment or by invoking the 25th Amendment. The letter comes a day after a group of Trump supporters violently stormed the Capitol, halting Congressional certification of the 2020 presidential election results.
“The president’s actions threaten American democracy,” the professors wrote. “He has rejected the peaceful transfer of power, encouraged state lawmakers to overturn election results in their states, pressured a state official to change the election results and has now incited a violent mob.” who interrupted the counting of the electoral votes and stormed the United States Capitol. “
“He should be removed from his post immediately before further violence occurs or any further damage is done to our democracy,” they concluded.
On Thursday afternoon, 13 professors from the University of Minnesota signed the letter and a spokesperson for the university confirmed its authenticity. A professor from the University of North Dakota, one from South Dakota State University and one from the University of South Dakota also signed.
Brian Harrison, lecturer at U’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs, said he signed the open letter because “it was the right thing to do”, as a private citizen and also as a expert “to send signals to American citizens that this is not normal.” It is not something we should take lightly.
In the early 2000s, Harrison worked in the Department of Homeland Security under the administration of President George W. Bush. In a telephone interview Thursday, he called Wednesday’s events “the most egregious attack on our soil since September 11”.
“What’s remarkable about this particular attack on our federal government is that it comes from within,” he said. “And this came not only with the support of the president, but also with the encouragement of the president. “
He said what happened on Wednesday “sends all kinds of messages” not only to foreign nations – especially “those who are not necessarily our allies” – about the stability of the United States, but also “it signals to white supremacists and insurgents ”.
“Trump still hasn’t disowned what they did,” he said. “He of course said he loved them. He organized this rally yesterday which only pissed them off and basically gave them a roadmap for what he wanted them to do.
C. Daniel Myers, assistant professor of political science at the U, said in a telephone interview that what happened on Wednesday did not happen overnight: he said that since President-elect Joe Biden was declared the winner in November, Trump and the Republicans against the ballot told their supporters that “this election has been stolen from you”, often associated with “martial rhetoric, rhetoric about fighting, about the death of patriots” .
“That kind of violent rhetoric, if you have that kind of concentrated message of partisan elites on one side, people are going to start believing it,” Myers said. “What we saw yesterday, I think, was a pretty direct result of that kind of rhetoric.”
From the University of North Dakota, professor of political science and public administration Brian Urlacher signed the letter. Urlacher has studied civil wars, political violence and state failure for 15 years and has taught at UND since 2007.
“For me and for many political scientists, the events of yesterday were truly terrifying, not because such events are unprecedented in the United States of America, but because they are common and familiar in the plagued countries. democratic collapse, ”he said in an email to Forum News Service. .
Harrison said the lesson from Wednesday’s events is that “it shows you how fragile democracy is.”
“I think a lot of people thought authoritarianism couldn’t happen here. And I think the lesson here is, for sure, because it is, ”he said.
“How many people were ready to participate? ” He asked. “How many elected, how many administrators? How many highly respected people in their particular discipline have simply accepted it? (…) It only takes the complacency or laziness or fear of a few hundred people (in government) to really overthrow our system of government. And I think it’s terrifying.
When asked if he believes after Wednesday that a peaceful transition of power is possible on January 20, Harrison hesitated for several seconds before responding, “I don’t know. And ‘I don’t know’ is a terribly gruesome indictment.
As for the fear of repercussions or allegations of bias in his academic career, Myers told Forum News Service that it was “behind the back of (professors’) heads,” but “that’s why I think it is. ‘It is important that it is very rare that we make these kinds of statements. We only do this in extreme circumstances.
When asked if he believes after Wednesday that a peaceful transition of power is possible on January 20, Myers said: “I think this ship has sailed. In a very literal definition, four people died in an attempt to disrupt the transition of power.
When asked the same question, Harrison hesitated for several seconds before answering, “I don’t know. And ‘I don’t know’ is a terribly gruesome indictment.