Democracy’s shrine forever tarnished by anarchy
On September 18, 1793, then-President George Washington crossed the Potomac River shadowed by an entourage of volunteer soldiers from Alexandria. In the midst of a great celebration, the nation's first commander-in-chief set the cornerstone block at the southeast edge of the United States Capitol foundation – a building considered across the globe as the symbol of our republic and the cradle of democracy.
Over two centuries later, broadcast to the world in living color on cable and network news, this splendid structure — arguably the most architecturally exceptional building in this country — was ransacked. The surreal image of a frenzied would-be conquering army celebrating on the Capitol steps is something only big blockbuster filmmakers in Hollywood might have previously conceptualized. The Capitol Building is political holy ground — a shrine to freedom and self-governance forged by the sweat and grit of our original founding father and now forever tarnished by anarchy.
What was President Donald Trump's thought process while delivering the speech shortly before the march to chaos? What did he think was going to happen after revving up 250,000 supporters and pointing them directly at the Capitol Building? What consequence is /was his administration willing to pay if all hell broke loose? Trump loyalists contend he's guiltless while Never-Trumpers see his words as much more devious − maybe even imagining that the president's goal was to stand above a smoldering wreckage of a capital laid to waste.
Joining Trump supporters, angered by perceptions of an unfair election, were professional agitators —including The Boogaloo Boys, the KKK, The Proud Boys, QAnon disciples, and even Antifa — equipped and ready to use the opportunity to rampage. These were veteran radicals complete with go-pros, firearms, pipe bombs, hammers and zip ties, boldly roaming the hallowed halls with impunity. Couple that with the sheer number of disenfranchised Trump followers, and the result was unimagined pandemonium.
Five dead bodies and dozens of injuries later Trump's reign as president ends almost as it began, with shock.
Trump's words and actions were irresponsible but not sinister; his speech wasn't incendiary, it simply lacked logic and foresight. This wasn't a coup d’état, it was a messy, disorganized disruption in democracy. There is no assured way to affect a successful coup in the United States − that's part of the brilliance of our founding fathers. Insurrections are only effective in governments with a single source of power in the fashion of dictatorships. This wasn't a strategic, organized attack to usurp a peaceful transition of power. It was rambling, violent mayhem. The buck stops with the president and he must shoulder the burden of this disaster.
A quarter of a million Americans never intended to overthrow the government. They assembled in Washington representing the nearly 75 million citizens who still instinctively believe there was something fundamentally dishonest with the 2020 election. To date, we have not had one congressional investigation or congressional hearing into election irregularities in the recent election. One hundred and thirty-nine Republicans objected to the results and called for an audit.
To varying degrees of severity in Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Arizona, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, election officials or those in the executive branches altered rules or policies governing the elections. Yet the Constitution is clear: state legislators and only state legislators can set election law. Aside from Trump’s broad-brush claims of fraud, voting-rule changes made in response, or alleged response, to the pandemic undermined trust and faith in the process among millions of Trump and Republican voters.
We are more divided than ever. The typical Trump supporter has lived the last four years abused, ridiculed, and marginalized. President-elect Biden's canned soundbites will never sooth the scars inflicted by the Democratic dismissiveness of their genuine concerns about unconstrained illegal immigration, threats to Second Amendment rights and religious choice, and the loss of manufacturing jobs to overseas markets, particularly China.
The rage from the right will continue to worsen. A second round of impeachment proceedings will deepen divisions and further erode the country's stability. If Congress wants to turn down the heat, reduce the chance for violence, this is not the way to do it.
The atrocities committed on January 6 are inexcusable. The criminals who led this revolt should face the full weight of justice, with their actions condemned by every citizen. No unlawful actions that undermine this country's greatest assets of a stable democracy and the rule of law can be tolerated. No exceptions.
Lee Elci is the morning host for 94.9 News Now radio, a station that provides "Stimulating Talk" with a conservative bent.
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