King Don goes mad
“He has excited domestic insurrection amongst us ...”
That outrage by King George III was cited in 1776 by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence as one of many reasons for the American colonies to declare themselves free from England’s tyranny.
He might as well have been writing about Donald Trump’s unforgivable speech to thousands of his supporters on the Mall last Wednesday.
Declaring for the umpteenth time the falsehood that he won the 2020 election, Trump urged the mob:
• “You’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength ...”
• “When you catch somebody in a fraud, you are allowed to go by very different rules.”
• “You don’t concede when there’s theft involved. Our country has had enough. We will not take it anymore, and that is what this is all about.”
• “We fight like hell, and if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.”
• “We are going to the Capitol, and we’re going to try and ... give our Republicans, the weak ones, because the strong ones don’t need any of our help, ... going to try and give them the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country.”
He added, “ ... we’re going to walk down, and I’ll be there with you.” He wasn’t, of course. He was watching the Capitol invasion, the vandalism and the violence on TV at the White House.
He apparently had changed his mind from what he tweeted back on July 27 during the unrest following the murder of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis: “Anarchists, Agitators or Protestors who vandalize or damage our Federal Courthouse in Portland, or any Federal Buildings in any of our Cities or States, will be prosecuted under our recently reenacted Statues & Monuments Act. MINIMUM TEN YEARS IN PRISON. Don’t do it.”
What ensued on Jan. 6 was an attempted lynching of the United States government.
The mob fervor of the horde that stormed the Capitol wasn’t very much different from what drove the mobs that lynched over 4,000 Black men and women in America over the century from the 1860s to the 1960s.
Some folks in the crowd were thoughtful enough to bring materials to erect a jerry-rigged gallows, complete with noose, on the Capitol grounds.
And once the mob gained entrance to the magnificent building, they chanted, “Hang Mike Pence,” as they stormed through the halls.
Trump had publicly berated Vice President Pence for refusing to disallow the counting of legal electoral votes from some states that voted for Joe Biden for president.
All that was missing were the pitchforks.
So Blue Lives Matter? Tell that to the families of the dead and injured Capitol police officers.
“Law and order” has been a watchword phrase for Trump and his minions for years. It was mocked last Wednesday. No sign of law, and total absence of order.
The mob was, in effect, Trump’s paramilitary army, like the personal guard of a Third World warlord, or the True Believers of a 12th century Crusade, bent on sacking a citadel of “infidel” unbelievers.
A number of states, including Iowa, tweaked their voting practices for the November election due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and that gave Trump an opening to declare election fraud. The states, the electors and the courts all proved the error of his claim.
But for Trump and his supporters, fraud was just a handy argument. Their true purpose was to retain power, regardless of the 81 million Americans who voted for Biden. The lure of power trumped democracy.
I’m writing this on Sunday, Jan. 10, 10 days out from the end of Trump’s term in office. No one knows what he and his mob might do before then.
He has already proved unfit for office. He should resign and retire to Mar-A-Lago.
If he doesn’t, Pence and the cabinet should invoke the 25th Amendment to end his presidency.
If neither takes place, then Congress should impeach and convict him of fomenting insurrection. There is precedent for holding a Senate trial for an impeached federal official after the official leaves office.
His offenses from Jan. 6 can’t be waived.
Future presidents must be shown that late-term insurrections will be punished, and the nations of the world must know that America does truly believe in law and order.
As English philosopher John Stuart Mill said in 1867, “Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.”
The message must be: “You lost. Get over it. Other losers do.”