Those of you who have been readers of Politics and Other Stuff over the past nearly six years know that the banner of this blog includes a beautiful picture of the United States Capitol on a sunny day. Even though I have written many posts about state and local government and politics I chose the Capitol for the banner picture because I believe that the building symbolically represents American “small-d” democracy.
Many of us may not have seen coming what happened at the nation’s Capitol, but when you think about it, the insurrection was just the natural conclusion of what we have lived through for the past four years. The hate, criminality, and disrespect for the rule of law shown and encouraged by Donald J. Trump and his followers have come home to roost.
We have had someone (actually, many someones) in the White House for the last four years operating with sinister motives designed either to enrich themselves financially or politically, or to serve the purposes of such people as Vladimir Putin. Last week made it clear that they really thought it could go on forever.
Watching Trumpkins scurrying from the sinking Trump ship over the past few days has been amusing. Amusing, that is, until you think about all the damage and all the hate that those people aided and abetted for four years.
It’s also interesting to watch other enablers suddenly start preaching from a Democratic hymnal. Trump supporter Rupert Murdock’s Wall Street Journal described the desecration of the Capitol as follows:
In concise summary, on Wednesday the leader of the executive branch incited a crowd to march on the legislative branch. The express goal was to demand that Congress and Vice President Mike Pence reject electors from enough states to deny Mr. Biden an Electoral College victory. When some in the crowd turned violent and occupied the Capitol, the President caviled and declined for far too long to call them off. When he did speak, he hedged his plea with election complaint.
This was an assault on the constitutional process of transferring power after an election. It was also an assault on the legislature from an executive sworn to uphold the laws of the United States. This goes beyond merely refusing to concede defeat. In our view it crosses a constitutional line that Mr. Trump hasn’t previously crossed. It is impeachable.
This is how enabler Chris Christie explained things with reference to Trump: “His conduct over the last eight weeks has been injurious to the country and incredibly harmful to the party.”
What we saw last week was a series of seditious acts by Trump, his two oldest sons, the ever-disgusting Rudy Guiliani and assorted other minions. At their “rally” on January 6 they incited rioting. Here is a handy reference from 18 U.S.C. Section 2383 for those following from home: “Whoever incites, sets on foot, assists, or engages in any rebellion or insurrection against the authority of the United States or the laws thereof, or gives aid or comfort thereto, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.”
The performances of Trump and company were acts of sedition. They should all be prosecuted for the death and destruction they encouraged and led as they egged on their followers to march on the Capitol and fight. “Trial by combat” is how Guiliani phrased it. So much for Trump’s “law and order” claims.
After the disaster some Republicans had an Epiphany – how ironic that it occurred on the Feast of the Epiphany. Too little, too late. It’s the extreme example of the Pottery Barn rule: “you break it, you own it.”
Calls for Trump’s resignation for his role in inciting a riot and insurrection, or to invoke the 25th Amendment, or even for his second impeachment are likely to end in nothing conclusive being done. As tempting as it is to see him impeached again, which would remove him from a future run for office, prohibiting him from running for office again would only facilitate slimy characters such as Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley in their quest to become the next Republican Trump.
The sedition extends much further into the Republican Party. The 140 House members led by their leader, Kevin McCarthy, and the 13 senators who challenged the legitimate, fact based, judicial and administrative system tested results of the election all need to be singled out for their behavior which egged on the terrorists who stormed the Capitol.
Locally we can include Congressman Chris Jacobs in the Hall of Shame. It is hard to top the Buffalo News’ characterization of Jacobs as a “coward” and a “liar.” He should resign, like the other Congressmen Chris’s who previously represented that district. That’s unlikely, and reapportionment of congressional seats in 2022 will, in any case, remove the district and place Jacobs in a district where voters will not take kindly to someone who continues to sympathize with Donald Trump and who describes the rioters as “protesters.”
Drilling down further, we recently observed the example of the Republican Town Chairman of Aurora, Earl Jann, telling us that he is recruiting town candidates who are “opposed to multiculturalism, including identity politics and socialism/communism as we believe these policies are responsible for dividing our country.” No Earl, “multiculturalism,” as you describe it, did not divide the country. Our divisions have unfortunately existed for a long time in this country but it took your party’s leader, Donald J. Trump, to legitimize and make it acceptable to promote and exploit those divisions.
What happened to America on January 6, 2021 will be burned into the nation’s consciousness for a long time to come. The images we all watched for hours on that day of the terrorist attack on the Capitol will not be shuffled into the dustbin of history. The Trump-led and Republican-supported insurrection against American democracy will and should haunt its enablers forever.