By Abby Maxman, President and CEO of Oxfam America
Four years ago, I made the decision to join Oxfam and come back home to the US, having spent much of the previous 30 years working around the world as a humanitarian and development practitioner and leader. In my years abroad, I witnessed the fragility of democracy and the impact of authoritarianism firsthand. Growing up in the aftermath of the assassination of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, I learned from a young age of this country’s own deep history of systemic racism, and understood the US is by no means immune to violence and authoritarianism. This history is part of the reason that Black, Indigenous, and People of Color were among the first to warn about the implications of the racist, xenophobic rhetoric that was a central part of Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. The signs of authoritarianism were present then, and they are indisputably clear today.
From his first days in office, President Trump launched a blistering series of attacks on the US Constitution and fundamental American ideals of inclusion, tolerance, and global cooperation. His rhetoric and actions have worsened inequality in our country and undermined access to equal rights and opportunities for women and BIPOC communities. He has deliberately sowed division and incited violence in this country. Last week, his incitement of insurrection resulted in an attempted coup at the hands of white supremacists, right wing militia and other violent extremists to overturn a free and fair election. Far from ensuring a peaceful transition of power, he attempted to prevent the lawful certification of the election and put the lives of his fellow elected officials in grave danger. President Trump violated his oath of office: he is a threat to the safety of millions, to our country, and to our democracy. That is why we are joining with allies in calling for him to be removed from office immediately by any and all legal means, including impeachment.
Millions of voters did their part in November, turning out in record numbers in the midst of a pandemic, risking their health to fulfill their democratic duty. Backed by the laws and the institutions of our democratic process, we voted for our beliefs and our hopes for the future of this country, and decided the outcome of the election. Respecting the outcome of an election – win or lose – is a cornerstone of our democracy. Despite the violent attack on our country designed to threaten those foundations, President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris will be inaugurated on January 20. Bullies, autocrats, and white supremacists will not succeed in silencing the will of the people.
Calling for President Trump’s removal from office is extraordinary for Oxfam and I do not take it lightly. We are living in a challenging moment in our nation’s history. There are clear flaws and fissures in the US political system that we see coming to a point of fracture right now. While the system has fractured, it has not broken. In the aftermath of an attack by violent extremists, the results of a free and fair US election were certified only hours later. It is what happens now that matters most—those responsible for attacks on our democracy must be held accountable. This is essential to ensure there is no impunity for acts of violence, and to send a clear message to those who would seek to threaten lives and our democracy.
Resilience, hope, and the voices of people who believe unshakably in the tenets of freedom and democracy are essential ingredients in the arc of change. There is no single blueprint for this kind of change around the world— each context and culture have their own needs at each moment of time. This is our moment in time. We must speak out and call on our leaders to dismantle the rising threat of white supremacy, prevent further violence, and hold President Trump accountable for his actions. We owe it to the world, this country, and to the future of our country’s democracy.