Our National Train Wreck

So, what the hell happened yesterday?

On the day Congress was to certify the Electoral College vote and confirm Joe Biden’s win, President Trump held a large rally for his supporters, denouncing what he called a “stolen election” and telling his followers “we will never accept” that.

And then Hell happened.

Hundreds of the rally attenders stormed the Joint Session, Capitol police were overwhelmed, assembled legislators had to shelter in place, Vice President Pence had to be whisked away by security, shots were fired, and a woman, one of the rioters, was killed by Capitol police. You can find various accounts on the Web

Let’s be clear: this was a national disgrace. It was a shameful, humiliating, disgusting, horrifying, and outrageous catastrophe for the American polity.

And President Donald Trump bears blame. A heaping helping of it. Indeed, the lion’s share.

He had every right to pursue legal action to prove his claim the election had been stolen, but he couldn’t prove it. He couldn’t even show any strong evidence. Once the Supreme Court refused to hear his last challenges and the states certified the election results in December, he should have had the grace to concede. He could have complained for the rest of his life – a lot of people would have believed him – rested on the laurels of some genuine accomplishments, and had the most influence of any former president since Teddy Roosevelt.

But, no.

Instead, seemingly driven by a desperate need to be seen at all costs as a winner, he kept yelling about a stolen election. He kept egging his followers on with wild claim after wild claim, and he helped cost the Republicans their Senate majority by convincing enough Georgia voters that their vote would never count, anyway, so why vote?

And, finally, intentionally or not, Donald Trump incited a riot at the Capitol Building of the United States.

To be honest, I was surprised this morning to wake up and see he was still president. I had expected him to be impeached and removed today (he deserves it) or neutered via the 25th Amendment (he deserves that, too), but, not yet. It makes me wonder if someone or “someones” had a talk with him and said “Sit here and be quiet for the next two weeks, if you want to avoid any further humiliation. We’ll run things, you just sign where you’re told.” Allahpundit at Hot Air reports that Pence was running the security operation at the Capitol last night and talking with the Secretary of Defense. Trump… wasn’t.

I guess we’ll find out, eventually.

A little digression for my own history (from a distance) with Trump. Go back through the archives and you’ll see that I was adamantly “never Trump” in 2015 and 2016. But, after his administration had been in office for a while, my opinion softened. He was doing some good things, and the outrageous attempts to cripple his administration and drive him from office made me more and more sympathetic toward him. Borrowing from Ben Shapiro, I decided to call “balls and strikes,” criticizing Trump where needed, praising him where warranted.

By 2020, I had become a Trump voter, based on the belief that, for all his deep personal flaws, what he was offering was a lot better than what Biden and the Democrats promised to do. I still think that was the right choice.

But yesterday he showed I was also right when, in 2016, I said he had the instincts of a caudillo, a populist demagogue. He’d largely kept those instincts in check over his administration, but, in recent weeks, he increasingly gave in to them, his followers listened, and we suffered through the worst incident at the Capitol since Senator Sumner was nearly beaten to death.

So it looks like I was right both times. Lucky me.

But what comes next?

Whether he’s removed now or serves out the last few days of his term, Trump is done. And there is no chance of him being re-nominated in 2024. The man who desperately wanted to be a winner will now go down as a loser, held in contempt by many of the people whom he once led.

The political ambitions of some are done, too, senators and representatives who enabled Trump’s demagoguery. Some were even fundraising during the riot. Seriously??

The policy damage from this will likely be immense, too, for conservatives and Republicans.. and America. For the foreseeable future, progressives will denounce and smear any opposition to even their worst ideas (and they have many) as “Trumpism.”

Thanks, Mr. President.

But what of the future? It’s beyond a doubt that faith in our electoral process is badly tattered. In that sense, what happened yesterday was a visible symptom of a problem that’s been building for years, something Democrats and the Left have played their own large role in. Last night online I was accused of “Trumpism” for stating that, but I stand by it. I think a sober look at our recent history shows that, placing the desire for power ahead of everything else and justifying the breaking of almost any political norm to gain power, they helped destroy that faith. Like I said, Trump should be removed from office for what happened yesterday, but the Democrats have shit on their shoes, too.

But that’s a post for another day.

For the future, I think the Jonathan Turley’s suggestion for a national electoral commission to look into the 2020 election – a real commission, not the “lay no blame” commissions Washington uses to bury a problem – is not just good, but must be done. South Carolina Senator Tim Scott (R) has introduced legislation for what sounds like something along those lines. If we’re to restore faith in self-governance, then an honest, transparent, and unsparing examination of what happened has to take place.

There also has to be a hard look at how these yahoos were able to take over the Capitol. What happened yesterday was also a huge failure in security planning and preparation. Heads need to roll.

In the meantime, maybe America should just have a Snickers.

PS: I forgot to add, regarding the national commission, that I do think there was serious cheating in the election, just not enough to change the results. Part of that “unsparing examination” will have to be a look at how various measures pushed by Democrats to loosen election security made such fraud as occurred easier to accomplish.

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