On January 6, 2021 we experienced a violent breaching of the American Capitol building by domestic terrorists in a coup attempt that was meant to overthrow democracy. According to one captured terrorist, they planned to restrain and assassinate members of Congress on national television. As one of only ten Republicans with enough courage to perform her duty and speak the truth, Elizabeth Cheney explained that "The President of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack. Everything that followed was his doing. None of this would have happened without the President. The President could have immediately and forcefully intervened to stop the violence. He did not. There has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution." The other 201 spineless Republicans found pathetic excuses to shield the President, Donald Trump, from repercussions arising from his incitement the insurrection and his dereliction of duty by not stopping it. Instead of worrying about what is right or wrong, or the fact that Donald Trump is a clear and present danger to democracy, they put party above country and their loyalty to a man above their loyalty to America's Constitution. Their only worry is staying in the good graces of their extremist base and a President who aggrandized violence and proved himself to be a habitual liar willing to violate any standard of conduct or law.
In early 2020 Trump began laying the groundwork for the claims of election fraud that he would later use if he lost the November election. With the COVID-19 pandemic raging in America he knew that voting by mail would be more popular than ever, so he began making numerous unfounded statements that many mailed ballots were fraudulent. In June of 2020 Trump appointed Louis DeJoy to head USPS. DeJoy, a long time Trump ally and $700,000 campaign contributor, began policies like banning overtime, forbidding late or extra trips to deliver mail, removing and dismantling hundreds of high-speed mail sorting machines, and removing some mail collection boxes from streets. This had the immediate effect of drastically slowing mail service. My own mail often took more than 5 days for delivery within the same zip code. By August Trump admitted that he was intentionally blocking federal funding to the U.S. Postal Service to discourage the use of mail-in ballots, during a pandemic, in the November elections. People were afraid of COVID-19 and Trump was using the pandemic combined with slowing down of the mail service to sway election results. He knew fewer people would want to go to the crowded polls, especially in urban areas, and that always helps Republicans. He also knew that additional people, including many from his own party, would be forced to vote at the polls, and some of them would be infected with COVID-19 and die. Trump never concerned himself with the more than 300,000 pandemic deaths that had already occurred. In fact he said "“They are dying. That’s true, and -- it is what it is," Trump's miscalculation was that so many people disliked him so intensely that huge numbers of voters braved sickness and potential death by going to the poles. Huge numbers also obtained and mailed in their ballots very early and tracked them online to make sure they were counted.
Trump, who lost the free and fair election in November 2020, was determined to remain in office regardless. Immediately after Biden's win Trump said "We all know why Joe Biden is rushing to falsely pose as the winner, and why his media allies are trying so hard to help him: they don't want the truth to be exposed. The simple fact is this election is far from over." The facts are that Trump lost the popular vote in 2016 by 2.8 million votes, a bigger margin than any US president in history. He won the Presidency by exploiting the deep and pervasive flaws in our antique Electoral College system. In 2020 Trump lost the popular vote again, but this time by more than 7 million votes, and Biden won the Electoral College by a larger margin than Trump did in 2016. It is that Electoral College vote that Trump tried to subvert, along with the will of the people, in 2020. Had he been successful 7 million voters, and the will of the majority, would have been ignored just as the will of the majority was ignored in 2016. In 2011 54% of Republicans favored a national popular vote, but after Trump's election only 19% favored it. I assume Republicans realized it allows them, as a minority, to overcome the will of the majority of voters. In fact this happened five times in history, allowing Donald Trump, George W. Bush, Benjamin Harrison, Rutherford Hays, and John Quincy Adams, all Republicans, to become President against the will of the people. Our arcane voting system has given Republicans an 11% advantage. By contrast, using the popular vote to determine a winner produces a clear, clean, and fair result that is not open to interpretation, and not vulnerable to the many flaws in the prolonged, complex, and antiquated Electoral College process. Every American voter deserves a voice in our elections. That is how democracies work, and some of the best require all citizens to vote. It's 2021, not 1788. Today we can do much better than a 232 year old process that puts paper electoral votes into wooden boxes that had to be physically rescued before Trump's Republican terrorists got to them. Perhaps the Capitol insurrection will give some momentum to a national popular vote. Unfortunately the GOP has responded by pushing to restrict voting access in battleground states. Only winning matters to Republicans. Fairness, or even legality, does not matter.
After losing the election Trump refused to concede. With less than three months left in office he then replaced key officials in the Pentagon with "loyalists". I immediately thought he would try using the military to take over government. That is certainly not beneath him, but it did not happen. Perhaps the military could not be corrupted sufficiently with his appointees in that short amount of time. Then he considered invoking martial law to stop the antiquated Electoral College process. Trump called election officials in Georgia 18 times to pressure them to "find 11,780 votes" for him. They refused, probably because they were more worried about eventually ending up in prison than pleasing an unbalanced President aspiring to be America's fascist dictator. At this point Trump had been incessantly promoting his baseless fraudulent election lies for 8 months, assisted by most of the Republican party and conservative "news" media. That lie, drilled into the minds of his radicalized supporters, was Trump's ultimate fallback when all of his other deceptions failed.
During his term Trump averaged more than 50 verifiably false or misleading statements every day. This blizzard of intentional misinformation and disinformation coming from America's President, constantly repeated, amplified, and "laundered" by extremist Republican politicians, pundits, and right wing "news" propagandists, was unprecedented. There were so many lies that fact checkers had to work full time just keeping track. When repeated often enough through enough different channels, these lies become "truths" in the minds of people who are too lazy or stupid to fact check statements before believing them. That is how propaganda has always worked to sway opinions. It worked to demonize the Jews in pre-war Nazi Germany. It also worked for Trump to convince Republicans that the election was being stolen, and that he was the rightful winner, even though he could never substantiate any of his allegations. Trump's lies are the basis for the entire "Stop the Steal" movement. Now we had self professed "proud White conservatives" trying to overthrow democracy based on deliberately fabricated lies about election fraud. Those lies were designed by the President of the United States expressly to incite insurrection, and they worked well.
Before the 2016 election Trump stated Donald Trump said "I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn't lose any voters, OK?" He was right about that, apparently because those voters have no sense of right and wrong, and blindly believe whatever Trump, and the extremist "news" media they're plugged into all day, tells them. After the deadly attack on America's Capitol, Trump retained overwhelming support (87%) from Republicans, and 45% of all Republicans approved of the insurrection itself. With 147 Republican lawmakers also siding with Trump against the choice of voters, Trump has succeeded in radicalizing the Republican Party to the point of turning it into a domestic terrorist organization. That is the Republican elephant in the room.
Trump, an overt racist, has always used deceitful propaganda to divide and conquer America and promote hate, always demeaning "liberals" and non-Whites, and blaming them for all of America's problems. Now his White seditionist soldiers are willing to kill their fellow Americans for Trump's lies. Had these White seditionists been Blacks demonstrating for social justice they would never have been allowed near the Capitol. In fact Trump offered to solve all of the Black Lives Matter issues in Oregon "in less than 1 hour" by sending in the National Guard. By comparison the White terrorists easily overran the very heart of American democracy unmolested, bringing guns, IEDs, mace, Tasers, home made napalm, and handcuffs with them. No federal law enforcement was present, and it took nearly two hours to get any National Guard reinforcements on the scene. Maryland's Governor Hogan said "I was ready, willing and able to immediately deploy [National Guard] to the Capitol, however we were repeatedly denied approval to do so". Now there is some evidence indicating these terrorists had help from inside the Capitol. Some were given tours on the day prior to the insurrection, and they had far more detailed knowledge of the building than a tour would provide, including the location of Nancy Pelosi, which was tweeted by Colorado representative and Trump supporter Lauren Bobert during the siege. If you don't think this terrorist plot goes much deeper, and to the heart of the Republican party and its lunatic fringe leaders, I have a bridge I'd love to sell to you.
It took Trump two days to make a brief and scripted statement denouncing the violence. His staff spent those two days urging him to do this to help shield himself from future liabilities. Any competent President would have been on television the same night. It took six days after the terrorist attack to apprise the public regarding the status of investigations and law enforcement activity relative to the event. In any competent administration the Attorney General and FBI director would have made this announcement, but they were conspicuously absent. Instead the Acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia was left to inform the public. Rather than inform, he tried to convince people that they are doing something, as opposed to nothing. He had no facts or specifics, and when the news conference was over we didn't know much more than when it began. That same day Trump implied that Democrats were responsible for the insurrection and said his that his speech to the terrorists before they breached the Capitol was perfectly appropriate. Later he again denounced the violence, a full week after the event. Since we are more likely to get the truth by flipping a coin than by listening to Trump and his appointees, what these liars have to say is as irrelevant as it has been for the last four years. Law enforcement during the Republican insurrection of January 6 and the "investigation" immediately following it reek so badly of blatant political corruption and racism that it is impossible to hide the stench. Trump has deliberately blurred the boundaries between truth and lies, good and evil, and has made lawless actions at the highest levels of American government so commonplace that they have become normal, and even expected, in America.
In the end more Black Lives Matter demonstrators were arrested during their social justice demonstration than were the White Republican terrorists who breached the American Capitol to overthrow democracy in an attempted coup. Situation normal. Everyone knows that if the Black Lives Matter protesters did this many of them would be dead, and scores would be injured and arrested. Very few of the hundreds of White terrorists were arrested, and most who were are charged only with minor "slap on the wrist" crimes like trespassing. The fact that it was a terrorist attack on the American Capitol engineered by the President of the United States, aided and abeted by his loyalist political appointees, seems lost on Republicans as they continue to protect and defend Donald Trump instead of the country and its Constitution. It is worse than sickening.
These are the most dire times in recent American history. Trump, Republican politicians, and extremist Republican "news" propagandists are all complicit for encouraging and propagating Trump's absolutely bizarre QAnon and other insane conspiracy theories, false election fraud narratives, and countless other lies designed fuel hatred and violence between Americans. They do this to advance themselves among Trump's radical base, which now encompasses most of the GOP. Instead of rejecting Trump's most blatant lies and wackiest conspiracy theories, or even trying to rein him in a little, they went along with everything he said to radicalize their party. Many encouraged Trump and even added to his lies, all to score points with extremists and advance their careers while destroying America. Because Trump began laying foundations for his election fraud lies months before the first vote was cast, this was a carefully premeditated attack on democracy. The conservative media propagandists (AKA, Fox, Newsmax, Infowars, and countless small online "news" manufacturers) and people like Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham, Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, and others were certainly aware of what they were doing. They spent more than four years helping a criminal President stoke the fires of division and hate, but they pretended to be surprised by the coup attempt and associated violence at the Capitol. It was obvious to any normal person paying attention that something of this nature would eventually happen. These politicians and their extremist media propagandists are as responsible as Trump for the terrorist breaching of America's Capitol, and violence that has yet to happen. As Americans they should be profoundly ashamed, but they are proud and loyal Republicans who would do it all over again.
1. See also this Scientific American article.
2. Proud Boys, the group Trump told to "stand back andstand by", are listed as a terrorist organization in Canada. The US has no means by which to designate any domestic group as a terrorist organization, but In 2018 the FBI designated the Proud Boys as an extremist group with ties to white nationalism.
3. Some may read this essay and think it is unfair, since there are Republicans who do not fit my description. There are some old school "establishment" Republicans who only want to destroy the environment to line their pockets. They regard the lunatics as dangerous, but establishment Republicans no longer matter within their party. They should either try changing how their party operates, change parties, or fully own the extremism they reliably support with their votes.