“If we nominate Trump, we will get destroyed … and we will deserve it,” Lindsey Graham, May 3, 2016
With the world looking on, on Wednesday January 6th President Trump incited his followers to storm the U.S. Congress in order to disrupt the certification of the 2020 election. An election which he lost by millions of votes.
Over the last four years President Trump has mocked the Office he holds and the country he swore to defend to the great amusement of his followers, and the exasperation of his detractors. And his efforts have paid off. Some of his followers have ceased to be patriots and can now officially be labeled terrorists.[i]
Republican leaders and conservative voices were quick to condemn the violence. As House minority leader Kevin McCarthy – who had previously indicated his support for Trump on every conceivable occasion – finally muttered ‘this has gone too far.’
This has only now gone too far?!
It wasn’t ‘too far’ to ask a foreign power to spy on political rivals? It wasn’t too far to ask that your political rivals be attacked or locked up? It wasn’t too far to suggest American POWs like John McCain and members of the military killed in action were losers? It wasn’t going too far when he said ingesting bleach could kill coronavirus? It wasn’t going too far to tear gas peaceful protesters on Lafayette Square in Washington DC for a photo op with a bible? It wasn’t too far to claim the 2020 election was fraudulent? It wasn’t too far to ask the Georgia Secretary of State to ‘find’ twelve thousand votes? It wasn’t going too far to demand that Vice President Mike Pence violated the Constitution to block the certification of the election? Seen in this light, the storming of the Capitol was inevitable. And even welcome.
And that is because President Trump has been going too far a long time. And he has been aided and abetted by Republican leaders, the media looking for shock value (and thereby revenue), and by all ‘the other side does it too’ apologists.
To Republicans who wanted conservative judges and justices appointed, lower taxes, less immigration, and the repeal of Obamacare, all this behavior was acceptable. Even a source of amusement. After all, Trump was a reliable turn-out machine. He was a golden ticket; the entertainer-in-chief to a conservative base long since tired of liberals and coastal elites telling them how to lead their lives.
Republican after Republican laughed away the President’s shortcomings as foibles. As long as he pushed their agenda and helped their candidates get elected, all the President’s failures were acceptable.
In the days to come conservative voices may claim the storming of Capitol Hill was the work of foreign infiltrators, saboteurs or left-wing pederasts. Or maybe they’ll say the other side started it in 2016 when they started the campaign ‘#notmypresident. But they will be hard pressed to undo what the American people have now seen is a real-world consequence of the tweeting of falsehoods; the ineptitude and the lies that Trump has spewed for the last four years.
By backing Donald Trump to the hilt, no matter what he did or said, they have now ensured his supporters will only listen to him. Republican leaders who now call for peace won’t get it from Trump supporters. Fully 75% of Georgian Republican voters in the recent Senate runoff believed the Presidential election was won fraudulently. A claim that is simply false, but has been repeated ad nauseum by Trump and numerous Republicans.
The result is that many of these voters lost enthusiasm for the Senate runoff, and Georgia just ensured that the Senate is now also in Democratic hands. Republicans lost, and it is now too late. And this has now gone too far.
And yet it is said the darkest hour is just before the dawn. A silver lining to all of this is that these disgraceful scenes may lead to soul-searching in the Republican Party; once of Abraham Lincoln that put an end to slavery, and which broke up monopolies under Teddy Roosevelt. Perhaps they can get back to their roots as a Party of limited but just government, genuinely free markets, self-determination, and even global leadership. Such sentiments may seem far-fetched but at times like this we need is a little optimism.
Happy New Year from across the pond!
[i] Terrorism is defined in the Code of Federal Regulations as “the unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives” (28 C.F.R. Section 0.85). https://www.fbi.gov/stats-services/publications/terrorism-2002-2005.
Feature image: Washington DC, United States. 6th Jan, 2021. Protesters seen all over Capitol building where pro-Trump supporters riot and breached the Capitol in Washington, DC on January 6, 2021. Rioters broke windows and breached the Capitol building in an attempt to overthrow the results of the 2020 election. Police used buttons and tear gas grenades to eventually disperse the crowd. Rioters used metal bars and tear gas as well against the police. (Photo by Lev Radin/Sipa USA) Credit: Sipa USA/Alamy Live News