We stand before a fork in the road, or at least that is how this feels after several days with a near addiction to news feeds, watching the events unfold in real time, hour by hour. Yesterday I argued that an immediate way to help lower the temperature would be for everyone who had supported Trump’s lies about fraud to come forth and publicly disavow those lies, under the view that somehow we must agree on a shared set of facts for any healing to begin, but this does not seem to be happening, not yet. Some are hell bent on impeaching Trump, others on blaming the liberals, democrats, and antifa for what happened. And, instead of facing what happened last week, some are arguing that if anyone is held accountable this will only inflame things further.
On the one hand there appears to be movement toward finding some kind of resolution to put this behind us, and prevent further chaos (this is one fork). Most recently are reports that McConnell favors impeachment as a way to exile Trump from the party, de-fang him, save the party for the future, and with a few Republican House members and leaders now supporting that action, this may come to pass in the coming days. Others talk of censure, or using the 14th Amendment, to make people accountable. Each hour brings further videos and reports of just how bad it was in that building last week, just how well organized portions of this were, just how inflammatory were the speakers encouraging people to go to the Capitol, just how dangerous the next few days may be with FBI reports of armed activity in DC and every state this coming weekend. So, on this fork – everyone in leadership somehow coming together to reach a solution – there may be accountability but it seems the chances for chaos in the coming days might be greater from the seditionists among us.
On the other hand, I think there is an equally good argument, maybe even a stronger argument, that this coup attempt is continuing (the other fork in the road), and will come to a climax this weekend. I say this partly because so few of those who promoted the Lie have come forward to now agree the election is over and fairly won. Some are saying Biden won – Gym Jordan for example – but still preface with the statement about “concerns” and “illegality” – ie, they continue to state publicly the election was fishy, and this only reinforces those out there who believe the election was stolen. The President has no remorse, no regret, no apology, no contrition. He continues to argue he made a perfect speech. When he said, before leaving for Texas and again at Texas, that “violence is bad” but immediately then said impeachment will make people angry, very angry, it seems he was encouraging his supporters to carry on. With no admission from Trump he did ANYTHING wrong, it seems clear his minions will try to come again to DC and the 50 states to express their rage. Will they surround the Capitol and White House to stop the transfer of power? Will there really be attacks on all the State capitols? Imagine the chaos, the violence, then. Then, will Trump declare Martial Law to keep the peace? Defer the inauguration? Stay in power? Is this the plan?
One aspect is crystal clear: whether Trump is impeached or not, whatever violence falls upon us will fall, because if he is NOT impeached he requires violence to carry the day, which suggests that no matter what happens we will have to deal with armed and angry citizens, either fork we take. Either fork, because these people have had a taste of this, now, feel emboldened, feel justified, are enjoying this.
I remember 1974, August, very well. In the end, the very end, (like, the last few days) Republicans went to Nixon and told him to leave or be impeached. I had forgotten that for most of the Watergate scandal – 1972 to 1974 – most in Nixon’s party supported him, right up to the very end. In the end his party confronted him and that is what it took to get him to leave. Mr. Nixon departed peacefully. Nixon did not have an army of militias and groups and armed believers trying to keep him from leaving office. Today, I remain entirely unsure whether those Republicans who voted to overturn the election even after the riots ended are now coming to their senses, at least as regards the Constitution, or whether they have decided, in their bones, it is better to ride with Trump to a new government paradigm, regardless of the cost.
I guess we’re going to find out.