Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Wednesday, January 6, 2021 5:04 pm

We told you this would happen

Republicans on a dangerous antidemocratic path since 1994 today conjured violence in the people’s U.S. Capitol.

As I write, hundreds or thousands of pro-Trump supporters have breached the U.S. Capitol — for the first time since the War of 1812, according to the Capitol historian — and forced the suspension of what should have been a pro-forma, if lengthy, counting of Electoral College ballots. TV news shows evidence of at least five injuries and is reporting that at least one person has been shot and critically wounded (UPDATE, 5:48 p.m.: she died) inside the Capitol. Moreover, at least one explosive device was found at the Capitol. These rioters — yes, rioters — were there at the urging of President Donald Trump, who spoke at the protesters’ rally earlier today and urged them to march on the Capitol, raving falsely that the election had been stolen from him.

So many of us told you this would happen. You laughed, or demurred, or insisted that we were taking Trump too seriously. Not so much, it turns out. Welcome to the banana republic, population: you.

MSNBC’s Chuck Todd calls this “unfortunate.” But it is seditious conspiracy. U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, called it “sedition” and said, correctly, “This is what the president has caused.”

Here is the seditious-conspiracy statute, 18 USC 2384:

“If two or more persons in any State or Territory, or in any place subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, conspire to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the Government of the United States, or to levy war against them, or to oppose by force the authority thereof, or by force to prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of any law of the United States, or by force to seize, take, or possess any property of the United States contrary to the authority thereof, they shall each be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both.”

The rioters conspired to oppose by force the authority of the U.S. government and by force prevented, hindered, and delayed the execution of U.S. law, and took and possessed the Capitol contrary to the authority of the U.S. government. Every single one of them needs to go away for 20 years. So does Trump himself for inciting this sedition.

It’s not just Trump who has brought us to this pass. It also is the Republican Party. Republicans have been marching down an antidemocratic, minority-rule path since at least 1994. Republicans rioted in 2000 to interrupt the vote recount in Florida — not one of them was arrested, and a recount was unlawfully stopped — and Republicans have ignored decade-old warnings that the likeliest source of domestic violence and terror was not Islamicist terrorism but homegrown right-wing white nationalists.

And so here we are.

It’s not clear now why the Capitol Police weren’t prepared for this, but they weren’t. The protest had been talked about on social media for days, and Trump had been egging his right-wing nationalist followers on. Moreover, its lack of preparedness raises the question of how it is going to ensure security and safety at President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration in two weeks.

It’s also important to note that if this had happened in any state, that state’s governor could have called out the National Guard immediately. But in D.C., that request must be relayed up the Department of Defense chain of command, which delayed the Guard response today. If you’re looking for another argument for statehood for the District of Columbia, welp, here you go.

How did Capitol Police allow this to happen, and how are they going to ensure safety at the presidential inaugural in two weeks? One of those questions has a long-term answer, but one needs to be answered right away.

How do we prevent this from happening again? For one thing, swift enforcement of the criminal law, and, yes, some people need to be made examples of. For another, Donald Trump must be impeached immediately and removed from office to ensure he never again holds a position of trust and responsibility within the U.S. government. He also needs to be criminally charged after leaving office for inciting this riot, for it wouldn’t have happened if he hadn’t egged the protesters into rioting and sedition. He eventually gave in to requests from Republicans to urge the rioters to stand down, but even in doing that, he made clear where his sympathy lay, calling Biden supporters names and telling the rioters, “We love you.”

Three other Republicans, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri, and Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas, bear particular responsibility for today’s insurrection. They were the prime movers behind the efforts of some Congressional Republicans to overturn the valid, duly certified electoral-college ballots submitted by some states that Biden carried. They knew that under our Constitution and the law, they had zero chance of success, but Cruz and Hawley, at least, both hoped to win the approval of the Trumpite base as they plan their respective runs for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination. Gohmert, after his joke of a lawsuit was dismissed, went on the far-right-wing outlet Newsmax to say that the correct response to the dismissal of his suit was “violence in the streets.” All three should be expelled from Congress and indicted and prosecuted, as well.

The government must begin taking white-nationalist terrorism seriously, devoting resources to undermining and punishing it swiftly and harshly when it manifests. Biden, in his remarks, emphasized that the rioters were a tiny minority, and perhaps they are. But they look more numerous than that — and a number of rioters told MSNBC reporters today, “This is not over.”

But we’re not going to be out of the woods until American voters start holding Republican politicians responsible for sedition. And I see zero likelihood that that is going to happen anytime soon. So it’s entirely possible we could see sedition like this again, perhaps as soon as at Biden’s inauguration.

Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

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