Resign, Donald Trump. There will now be a pause for gales of laughter. As if that will happen. Unless he bails a day or two before the inauguration so Pence can pardon him…
So impeach him again and this time, convict. I know it’s a longshot fantasy given the time frame, but it would be a pleasure to make every member of the House and Senate vote—take a position and force the president from office for inciting a riot, violence and vandalism at the very place where members of Congress are supposed to do the work of a representative democracy, the legislative ark of our system of checks and balances. (At the Trump supporters’ rally Wednesday, he urged the mob on, implied that he would march with them to the Capitol, then dashed back to the White House in his armor-plated limo and hid while chaos erupted.)
CNN reported, “White House staffers were visibly shaken by Trump’s response to the mob breaching Capitol Hill. The president was borderline enthusiastic over the protests and did not want to condemn them, multiple people said.”
If not impeachment, Vice President Pence and the cabinet should invoke the 25th Amendment immediately and remove this madman from office before he does any more damage to the nation. An Acting President Pence should not even consider a pardon.
As per Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R.-Ill.), “The president has become unmoored, not just from his duty, or even his oath but from reality itself. And it is for this reason that I call for the vice president and members of the Cabinet to ensure the next few weeks are safe for the American people. And that we have a sane captain on the ship.”
While we’re at it, arrest Rudy Giuliani and Michael Flynn for incitement, both of whom also used the Wednesday protest to stir the mad dog crowd into a frenzy. “Let’s have trial by combat!” Rudy declared. Book him.
Also identify the domestic terrorists who breached security yesterday and trashed the Capitol. There’s plenty of photo and video evidence. Place them under arrest, too. (And to hell with those in Congress and the right-wing media trying to float the alternative fantasy that the vandals were left-wing provocateurs. A lot of those in the pictures are well known. Haul them in.)
Immediately investigate what happened to security precautions at the Capitol. They have had weeks to prepare for what happened on Wednesday. Who was coordinating? Why did members of the US Capitol Police seem to melt before the mob, lowering barriers and allowing the rioters through? What about the image of a member of the Capitol Police posing for a selfie with one of the mob? And why were the insurrectionists allowed to leave so easily, why weren’t they cuffed, loaded into buses and taken into custody? Fewer than sixty arrests were made. A tense and violent situation needed to be treated carefully, for sure, but this was ridiculous.
I write this realizing that as someone who himself has been involved in protests at the Capitol more than once, this may sound a little, um, hypocritical? Or even, heaven forbid, old fogey-ish? Nope. We weren’t racist and armed and never attempted to break in or wreak any more havoc than sitting in on the Capitol steps. (The Mayday protests of 1970 were often violent but in my memory at least, the Capitol was not invaded. Despite that, 12,000 were taken into custody across the city, the largest mass arrest in American history.)
There have been instances of gun violence at the Capitol—most infamous, the 1954 shooting of five members of the House of Representatives by Puerto Rican nationalists during a debate on immigration (all five survived) and a tragic 1998 incident in which two Capitol Police were killed. There also were bombings there in 1971 and 1983. What’s more, such regular big events as inaugurations and State of the Union addresses turn out a far bigger security presence than witnessed on Wednesday.
All the more reason why the US Capitol Police should have been better prepared. By all means, let’s recognize those members of law enforcement who yesterday behaved professionally and honorably, risking their lives to protect members of Congress and their staffs. Yet there can be no denying that had the protesters not been white, had they represented the left or those seeking social, economic and racial equality, chances are the response of police would have been much more violent and unyielding.
Chanelle Helm, a Black Lives Matter activist, told The Washington Post, “Our activists are still to this day met with hyper-police violence,” Helm said. “And today you see this full-on riot—literally a coup—with people toting guns, which the police knew was coming and they just let it happen. I don’t understand where the ‘law and order’ is. This is what white supremacy looks like.”
DeRay Mckesson of Black Lives Matter and police reform group Campaign Zero added, “These people broke into the Capitol and were sitting on the House speaker’s desk today. Black people would not have even gotten into the building. They would have started shooting at them the minute they started to rush at the police.”
Ultimately, the fact that Trump’s mob, his addled cult of personality, should vent their Caucasian rage at losing the 2020 election (and the two Georgia US Senate seats just the night before, one won by a Black Baptist pastor, the other a Jew) with violence in our nation’s center of government, is appalling but not surprising. Their anger and fear has been roiled for decades by the Republican Party, from its “Southern Strategy” and George H.W. Bush’s Willie Horton ads to its dog whistles of the present, not to mention years and years of lies and frothing right-wing media preaching hate and victimization.
Wednesday, when the grounds, corridors and chambers were cleared of rioters, broken glass and debris, Congress reconvened. Many members were chastened and the Electoral College results were certified, but some of the Republicans carried on their attacks on the presidential election and worse, their pandering to extremists, placing venal expediency and opportunism above duty and country. Ted Cruz, Paul Gosar, Josh Hawley, Matt Gaetz and company—a pox upon you all.
But most of all, Donald John Trump. His belated words urging peace and calm ring hollow—every statement urging calm compulsively included more boasting and yet another lie or two or three. After the riot, in the middle of the night he finally pledged an “orderly transition” of power but had to add, “While this represents the end of the greatest first term in presidential history, it’s only the beginning of our fight to Make America Great Again!”
Even a subsequent statement from deputy press secretary Judd Deere expressing grief and sympathy for the dead and injured smacks a little too much of “very fine people on both sides.” And the sudden slew of administration resignations, including that of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, wife of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, is too little, too late.
In the words of Joe Biden on Wednesday, “Enough is enough is enough.” The thought of Donald Trump staying in office for another minute, let alone two weeks, is untenable. Lock him up and throw away the key.
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Michael Winship is the Schumann Senior Writing Fellow for Common Dreams. Previously, he was the Emmy Award-winning senior writer for Moyers & Company and BillMoyers.com, a past senior writing fellow at the policy and advocacy group Demos, and former president of the Writers Guild of America East. Follow him on Twitter: @MichaelWinship.