We are all too shocked, disturbed, and saddened to see anything positive in Wednesday’s domestic terrorism. But this is the good news: The United States of America will survive, and Donald Trump just may not. He has severely damaged his own brand and the Republican Party… which will be a huge benefit to Democrats, now and for several election cycles to come.
Most Americans were stunned to see the images of right wing thugs and vigilantes parading Confederate flags through the halls of the U.S. Capitol, casually hoisting their boots onto the desks in Congressional offices, and succeeding in temporarily disturbing the mechanics of our democracy… all acting on the direct orders of the Domestic Terrorist-in-Chief, the President of the United States.
Few could fathom – in spite of all the warnings -- that Donald Trump would take the final step of actually inciting violence and bloodshed in his quest to retain the Presidency. This, even though Trump said clearly in that first Presidential Debate – the “POTUS Interruptus” fiasco – that the Proud Boys should “stand back and stand by.” Even though Trump has been stoking his supporters with baseless assertions of “election fraud” since well before November. Even though Trump had broadcast the date of the final certification of the Electoral College tally by Congress as the day he would hold a rally of his supporters in Washington, D.C.
I must admit, however, that watching the videos of the presumed insurrectionists swarming the Capitol did not make me existentially worried for our Republic. These people appeared to be no more capable of mounting an actual coup than conquering high school math. Based on their casual swagger, one suspects that the majority of them have absolutely no idea of the gravity of the crimes that they were committing.
Sure, many in Trump nation are patriotic Americans who have fallen behind economically, and many are alienated people working two jobs who turned to Trump because they felt betrayed and abandoned by their government. But those folks are not the people who strolled through the U.S. Capitol wearing shirts featuring a skull and crossbones that was labeled “Camp Auschwitz.”
No, what Donald Trump unleashed on the U.S. Capitol building was a mixed bag of extremist hooligans: Dunces of the Confederacy, walking hate crimes, a scrum of scum looking for trouble.
This time, Donald Trump did not say that there were “good
people on both sides.” In a hastily prepared video released on Wednesday afternoon
that was directed to thugs still occupying the U.S. Capitol, Trump passionately
sent a sloppy wet kiss: “we love you, you’re very special.”
The irony was lost on no one that Trump coddled the violent actions of his own supporters after having tear-gassed non-violent protesters to secure a photo op, and raged against peaceful BLM marchers.
It took too long, it was immensely frustrating that too few were arrested, and yes, people were injured and some died. But at no point during Beavis and Butthead Attack the Capitol did I actually think that this would be the day democracy died.
But do give these interloping idiots credit for accomplishing what Joe Biden, CNN, The New York Times, the Democratic Party, scholars, educators, scientists, and medical experts could not.
Donald Trump and his violent insurrectionists have finally ripped the Republican Party in half.
The man who polarized the nation for four years is now polarizing his own party in a way that could decimate its competitiveness for election cycles to come. Trump used his four years in office to essentially rebrand the Republican Party as the Trump Party, and then proceeded to use his final 60 days in office to raise the toxicity of the Trump brand to levels not seen since Chernobyl Reactor 4.
The Thousand Moron March may have damaged the Capitol building, but that carnage does not compare to what it has done to the Republican Party. We now see clearly the loveless marriage of convenience between a greedy, moneyed traditional Republican sensibility, and the Trump Party, a hard knot of loyalists in a cult of personality populated by weak-minded and ignorant people who have outsourced their perspective on objective reality to Donald Trump and FOX News.
There has always been an obvious distinction between the dyed-in-the-world Trump zealots and the terrified traditional Washington politicians who suddenly became Trump devotees when their political lives depended on it. Virtually all of the Republicans who were crushed by Trump in the 2016 race for the nomination – including Lindsay Graham, Marco Rubio, and Ted Cruz – once spoke viciously about Trump’s corruption, deceit, and lack of principle. But the “Hypocritical Oath” of fealty to Trump became a rite of passage for all but a select few like Mitt Romney and the late John McCain.
Most people saw only the clips from Trump’s Wednesday morning speech that feature the specific “calls to arms,” the incitement to riot. What they missed was exactly who Trump was urging them to riot against:
“For years, Democrats have gotten away with election fraud and weak Republicans, and that’s what they are. There’s so many weak Republicans. We have great ones, Jim Jordan, and some of these guys. They’re out there fighting the House. Guys are fighting, but it’s incredible. Many of the Republicans, I helped them get in. I helped them get elected. I helped Mitch get elected. …No, it’s amazing. The weak Republicans, they’re pathetic Republicans and that’s what happens…But just remember this. You’re stronger, you’re smarter.”
Before all Qanon broke loose on Wednesday, we had already seen visible cracks in Trump’s grip on the party. Mitch McConnell got jilted simply for announcing in mid-December that Biden was the President-Elect. McConnell must have seethed at the way that Trump pushed two Georgia Senate seats into the hands of Democrats, ending Mitch’s reign as Senate Majority Leader. Prior to the mayhem on January 6, Mike Pence had issued a letter that clearly conveyed that he did not agree with Trump’s contention that the Vice Presidency had the power to change slates of Electoral College votes. Mike Pence publicly splitting with Trump is a shocker on the scale of Brad and Angelina.
The sight of the ‘roid rage rioters in the Capitol was so horrific to the traditional establishment Republicans that even Chief Rat Lindsay Graham jumped ship. William Barr came out against Trump. That is like the College of Cardinals breaking with the Pope.
The lawless losers thundering under the Capitol Dome may have also crippled the political careers of Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz, the opportunistic sleaze bags who championed the idea of forcing Republicans to make a public vote on whether they were with Trump or against him. Trump’s call for the vigilante march on the Capitol was intended to physically threaten the Republicans who would not join Hawley and Cruz. The bottom line? Hawley and Cruz both appear to have been every bit as culpable for the violence as Trump himself. Gentlemen, good luck distancing yourselves from your self-appointed starring roles in one of the ugliest days in American history.
A famous Republican once said that “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” The Republican Party scraped its long hull against an iceberg on Wednesday, and soon we will be at the point in the movie where the weight of the seawater rips the Titanic’s giant hull in half. Spoiler alert: both halves sink.
Still, the vigilantes were not done. They appear to have successfully turned Trump from a mere ignorant blowhard protected by First Amendment Rights into a cold-blooded criminal, guilty of sedition and treason.
“Don’t take him literally,” all those Republicans used to say. Guess who took him literally? This is what the rioters heard on Wednesday morning:
“Now it is up to Congress to confront this egregious assault on our democracy. And after this, we're going to walk down and I'll be there with you. We're going to walk down-- We're going to walk down. Anyone you want, but I think right here, we're going to walk down to the Capitol--And we're going to cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women and we're probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them. Because you'll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength and you have to be strong.”
We have listened for so long as Trump’s sycophants and enablers have excused his deceit as just so much harmless rhetorical excess.
Ok, fine… it’s one thing to trigger zealots into boisterously shouting “lock her up” at Trump rallies – appalling, to be sure, but protected by our First Amendment right to be a raging asshole.
But it is a different thing to violent smash government-property, race around the U.S. Capitol building with guns and bombs, and terrorize private citizens and government officials.
It is sedition to incite violent attacks on legitimate authority.
It is insurrection to riot for the purpose of interrupting the functioning of government.
It is a coup if the goal of violence is to change the rightful Chief Executive of government.
The only reason Trump's action is not treason is because of the technical U.S. definition of the term. Treason is limited to actions in which an individual aids and/or abets a foreign government. Trump evades this charge only because the people he incited to overthrow the United States government were domestic terrorists.
You can stand down now, Proud Boys. But, uh, mission not accomplished.
Had Trump made his normal angry speech and his crowd had simply dispersed, we would have spent Wednesday in a gleeful celebration that a Black man and a Jew won Senate seats in Georgia that freed our nation from the choke hold that Mitch McConnell has had on our legislative process for a decade.
But Trump specifically instructed his followers to march to the Capitol building, “show strength,” and “be strong.”
Finally, the assault on the Capitol building has likely done irreparable damage to the Trump brand itself.
Yes, it is true that 74,000,000 people voted for Donald Trump, but you can be certain that 74,000,000 Americans did not vote for what happened on Wednesday.
Remember, too, that 54,000,000 of that number were Republicans, and that the majority of the remainder were Independents.
Here are some important facts.
Reuters recently reported that 70% of Republicans do not
think that the election was free and fair. That means that 30% percent thought it was free and fair. So that's 16,000,000 Republicans who watched Trump incite supporters to ransack the U.S. Capitol for an alleged purpose that they did not think was valid to begin with.
Newsweek sponsored a poll yesterday that said that an astounding 45% of Republicans supported the attack on the Capitol building. These numbers are, on the one hand, a mind-blowing testimony to the grip that Donald Trump exerts over his followers. But again, think about the corollary: essentially half of Republicans did not support the attack.
Said another way, approximately 27,000,000 Republicans who voted for Trump did not support the attack on the Capitol that he triggered.
Now, think about the fact that Donald Trump usually scores approval numbers among Republicans in the high 80s and even 90s.
There are huge gaps between a 90% approval rating, on the one hand, and only 70% of your supporters agreeing with your position on the validity of the election, and only 50% agreeing with the actions you have taken. Trump's behavior in the last 60 days is likely to have a substantially
negative impact on his overall image among Republicans.
In a final, utterly pathetic, heavily scripted video released
on Thursday, Donald Trump "condemned" the actions of the rioters that he incited.
Trump behaved like a petulant child
who has been forced to write “I am sorry that I committed treason” 500 times on a school
blackboard, reading stiffly from a script with no emotion. Just wait until some
of the vigilantes who will spend ten years in prison for their romp on
Wednesday find out that they are the latest people thrown under the tires of the Trump bus.
Donald Trump once famously said that he “could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue” and that he “wouldn’t lose voters.” At the time, it appeared that he was simply resorting to the most extreme hyperbole to make a point about the fierce loyalty of his supporters.
But at a literal level, what that quote was actually conveying was that Trump believed he could resort to violence, and his supporters would stick with him.
On Wednesday, Donald Trump finally learned that he could not shoot someone on Fifth Avenue with impunity.
No, Donald, the only way you get to shoot somebody with impunity is to aim the gun at yourself.
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