Donald Trump is responsible for Wednesday’s insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. This is obvious. He is as much cause and effect as fire causes charred, burned-out buildings.
Our president the arsonist … of democracy.
But, unlikely as it seems, this final act of arson engenders a faint hope within my breast. It is a hope that repeatedly flared and then dimmed with each Trump outrage these last four years.
Each time — every corrupt, impeachable, racist, misogynist act — I thought, “Now Trump supporters will see the true consequences of their votes.”
Caging children, demonizing brown immigrants, denigrating Muslims and those nations he deemed “shithole” countries?
Nope. The MAGA hats seemingly became more numerous.
Extorting another nation’s leader to fabricate dirt on a political opponent — our next president — and the impeachment in the House that followed?
No. The ardent rallies were undiminished.
Serial lying throughout his presidency, culminating with the false claim that Democrats stole a not-even-close election on Nov. 3? Attempting to browbeat Georgia officials into breaking the law to “find” sufficient votes for him to steal the election on his own?
Not even that.
Which brings us to Wednesday’s insurrection. No, insurrection is not too strong a word. Nor is sedition. Neither is coup attempt.
These words are not too strong because of what these “protesters” accomplished. They halted the peaceful transition of power. They stopped the act that made Biden’s win official, Congress accepting the certified electoral votes the states submitted.
That they halted the peaceful transition only temporarily — the certification was completed later that night — does not mitigate the deep offense done to our Constitution and to the peaceful transition of power.
My hope is that those who voted for Trump will finally recognize precisely who and what they unleashed on the nation.
I harbor this hope not so I can wallow in a see-I-told-you-so moment.
My hope is that Trump voters will see those delusional “stop-the-steal” insurrectionists and say, “Never again.”
They will hear that videotaped message from President Trump telling the Capitol insurrectionists to go home, but that he loves them, and adding fuel to the flames by claiming that he won the election in a “landslide” before it was “stolen” by Joe Biden.
This is tantamount to telling arsonists to depart — but giving them matches and lighter fluid as they leave.
Ove the last few years, if I pointed out that Trump is a racist and a white nationalist, his supporters would recoil. “No, he is simply protecting our borders,” they would reply.
In impeachment proceedings, which painstakingly detailed the extortion of Ukraine’s leader to get him to sling mud at Biden, Republicans insisted that the charges didn’t rise to the level of an impeachable offense.
There has been no misdeed, no illegal act that Trump supporters have not been able to rationalize.
Who, me, a racist because I voted for a racist? No way. He’s no racist. That’s just Trump being Trump. Make America Great Again!!!
But no amount of rationalizing wipe away Wednesday’s Capitol insurrection. It was live on television in living color. I checked; even Fox News was outraged.
I recognize that it is now likely, thanks to our fact-free Trump years, that there will be an attempted whitewash. That’s one predictable consequence of a president who breaks every social norm, including telling the truth.
Trump’s myth of a stolen election has created many believers. They are angry. He made them that way. And he implored them to come to D.C. What followed was also as predictable as the lies populating every Trump tweet.
Yes, the whitewashing will be attempted. And will, I fervently hope, fail.
Then, my hope is that we’ll never elect another Trump.
Pollyannish? OK, guilty.
But there is a way of making certain Trump himself can’t do any more harm.
I’ve been wavering on whether there should be any legal repercussions for Trump’s corruption.
A big part of me just wants Trump to go away.
But Wednesday’s events have tilted the scales for me. If a corrupt president is not held to account, what stops future corrupt presidents?
And one way to stop a Trump return in 2024 is to impeach him again. Hint: That call to those Georgia officials strong-arming them to “find” votes for him is a good place to start. But the list of possible offenses is long.
Yes, Trump should go away. And if that’s to prison or to ignominy generally brought on by legal sanctions, that’s the best way he can go away.
But every remnant, every stench and taint of him, must be thoroughly repudiated.
Wednesday proved that.