Like a lot of other people, I knew from before 2016 that Donald Trump would be a moral and political catastrophe for the country. Read the posts (more than fifty of them, going back to late 2015). But despite four years of this, it is still shocking, horrifying, and humiliating to see an armed, seditious insurrection take over the Capitol—and even more shocking, horrifying, and humiliating to know that the head insurrectionist is the country’s chief law enforcement officer. If it were not for the professionalism, patriotism, and commitment to the law of the nation’s military officers, I have no doubt that we would be living through a true coup d’état today and not just thousands of alienated and ignorant minuteman cosplayers who believe everything Trump and his craven enablers in Congress, the Republican Party, and the right-wing media have been telling them for years.
The Republican Party has been a party of lies for years, and those influential Republicans who have just tolerated the lying that Trump and others have been doing are to blame, too, because they have enabled someone whom they uniformly described, before his election, as unfit for office. Trump couldn’t help lying even when delivering his reluctant statement to the insurrectionists this afternoon: “Yes, the election was stolen by the Democrats and you’re right to be upset, and we have to do something about it, but please go home.”
I was struck by what Sen. Ted Cruz said in the Senate before the mob forced the proceedings to be suspended. In essence, he said that millions of Americans believed the elections were rigged, and that is why Congress needed to sustain the objections to the certificates of electors’ voters. But why did millions of Americans believe that? It’s not because it’s true. It’s not because there’s evidence that it’s true. It’s because Donald Trump and his gang, enabled by people like Senator Cruz and the right-wing media, have said so. One can only hope that today’s events will give Senator Cruz, Senator Hawley, and the other objectors pause—but I doubt it.
What should we do now? I will skip over my traditional main answer to all such questions (civics, history, and humanities education! Character education!) and give some more immediate thoughts:
- Congress should impeach Trump tomorrow and remove him from office tomorrow. It could be done if the will were there.
- Every insurrectionist whose face appears on the many public videos available, not to mention the security footage that I am sure exists, should be prosecuted. Yes, they are fools who were taken in by hucksters and they probably believe they are in the right. It doesn’t matter.
- The National Guard should be deployed at the Capital to allow the Congress to do the work of government.
- Those Republicans who are not okay with the fascistic direction of their party should either quit and start again, or else find a way to take control of the party back from those who have proved themselves unsuited to lead.
- The new Congress, after the inauguration, should seriously consider legislation to remove the President’s broad emergency powers and to rein in the executive—which will require Congress once again to be in the business of legislating on a bipartisan basis for the public good.