Given Antioch University’s long-standing mission of educating for democracy and social justice, it joins and strongly supports the demands of the National Association of Manufacturers, members of Congress, and others, that the Cabinet and Vice President immediately invoke the 25th Amendment of the Constitution to remove Donald J. Trump from office. In the absence of immediate action by the Cabinet, Antioch University further demands that Congress impeach Trump, try him, and remove him.
It is beyond shocking and appalling that a mob of domestic terrorists would storm, vandalize, and desecrate the Capitol of this country and overtake the halls of Congress while it was engaged in one of its most sacred democratic tasks—affirming the certified votes of the electoral college and the peaceful transfer of power. But it is even more grossly appalling that the attack would be orchestrated by the President of the United States and that it led to the deaths and injuries of Capitol police. Our democracy is in peril.
The events of January 6, 2021 were the reprehensible climax of the assault on democracy that has been the hallmark of the Trump presidency since its inception. He is a profoundly disturbed and dangerous man who knows no boundaries in his effort to mount a coup d’état against the will of the American people. This is not a conflict around political ideology. It is a conflict in whether we will continue to be a democracy or instead become an authoritarian autocracy, whether we will be a country governed by the rule of law or instead a country ruled by a fascist dictator motivated by his own self-interests.
As a University founded on the principles of social, economic, and environmental justice, we are deeply concerned. There can be no social justice without democracy. And there can be no democracy without an educated electorate, schooled in the traditions of factual inquiry, science, and critical thinking. But like all despots, Trump has learned that the key to destroying democracy is sowing doubt about facts, and evidence, denying science, attacking the free press, and creating an alternative reality of his own making. This continued with his efforts to create an alternative reality around the 2020 election. Even before the election, Trump repeatedly used Twitter and other social media to proclaim that, “if he loses, it’s because the election was rigged.” He repeatedly attacked the use of mail-in ballots as “corrupt,” “unlawful,” and “fraudulent.” He claimed victory on election night when millions of ballots were still being counted.
Since the election, Trump has repeatedly made false claims of widespread voter fraud, claiming that ballot boxes were “stuffed” and the election was “stolen.” Yet despite over 70 legal challenges to various state elections, he and his campaign have lost every one. The decisions handed down have been filled with language rebuking the President and his lawyers. One judge described the case as a “Frankenstein Monster” stitched together “to avoid unfavorable court precedent.” One court noted that the paucity of evidence of any election fraud was so apparent that, “this lawsuit seems to be less about achieving the relief Plaintiffs seek…and more about the impact of their baseless allegations on the People’s faith in the democratic process and their trust in our government.”
Despite losing all of these legal challenges, Trump has continued to spread wild and false conspiracy theories that the election was “stolen,” a narrative that is now widely believed by those who stormed the Capitol yesterday and by as many as 40% of the population. It is a baseless claim that has been indulged by some Senators and Congresspeople largely as a political ploy to appease their base and raise campaign money. This is not the democracy our nation’s founders envisioned.
For these reasons, it is apparent that President Trump represents a clear and present danger to American democracy and the safety and security of the American people. Even as the insurrection in the Capitol was ongoing he tweeted that he had won a “landslide victory.” He must be removed immediately to ensure that the American people have a mentally competent executive leader for the next few weeks. Failure to do so would leave the nation vulnerable to further seditious actions by Trump. The institutions of government must once again be deployed to ensure that democracy, the peaceful transfer of power, and our Constitution are once again protected and restored to their rightful place of honor in this society. Most importantly, the immediate removal of the President will be a deterrent to other would-be despots who might follow and send a signal to the world that the 245-year-old American democracy is strong and worthy of emulation. The peace of the world depends on it. We must not fail.