January 6 One Year On
If there is one thing the United States is fortunate about, one year after Donald Trump supporters, with the then-president’s now-clearly-explicit consent, stormed the US Capitol in an attempt to disrupt the electoral vote count and allow Trump to unconstitutionally remain in power, it is that in this endeavor, as in nearly every other that Trump and his supporters have attempted, they were spectacularly incompetent. Had the attack been one whit less half-assed and shambolic, or had Trump himself and his team had even the slightest bump to their ability for executive function, then things might have been very different. There might be dead Congresspeople, or a hanged Vice-President, and while I do not believe Trump would have managed to remain in power, the process by which he would be required to be removed would have been a great deal more unpleasant. The goal was a coup, not just against the incoming president, but against the Constitution of the United States, and the idea of our nation as a republic. All that stood between that coup and its short-term success was competence. That’s it.
The attack on the Capitol was, and is, unforgivable. Donald Trump, the worst president we’ve ever had — and think of how bad a president you have to be to shoulder aside the likes of Buchanan and Harding — should be openly reviled by his party and his nation. And yet, after perhaps 48 hours of unrehearsed shock, the Republican party rallied around this traitor to the republic and the constitution, and tried to rebrand an actual coup attempt into overexuberant tourism. The large majority of its members acted as if Trump, not Biden or the nation or its laws, had been the one wronged in that attempt. The few Republicans who stood on principle, and allegiance to the United States rather than the party or its petulant leader, are being shown the door as quickly as possible.
And that, too, is unforgivable. The coup attempt and the Republican party response made explicit what anyone who has been watching the party in the last 20 years already knew: The GOP is officially done with the notion of democracy in the United States. Its only interest in it at this point is using its remaining functioning processes to shut it down. The GOP has no platform other than a Christianist White Supremacist Authoritarianism, no goal other than a corrupt oligarchy, and no plan for its supporters other than to keep them hyped up on fear and hatred of anyone who is a convenient target. The Republican party problem with the coup is not that it happened. It’s that it was so poorly planned and executed. Now they’ll have to attempt another one.
Which is coming! The GOP has already made it clear they have no intention of honoring another presidential election that might allow a Democrat into the White House. They are attempting all sorts of strategies to limit the ability of suspected non-Republicans to vote, to discount their vote if they still manage to do it, and to disrupt the certification of the vote if it doesn’t go the way they want it to. A Democrat winning is enough evidence of “voter fraud” for a Republican to attempt to gum up the works for as long as possible, to sow distrust in the system, and to pave the way for GOP Coup II, i.e., “We Didn’t Want To But Look What the Dirty Democrats Made Us Do.” This coup may or may not have an “armed citizen” component to it; as noted the GOP has gotten very good at using the processes of democracy against it. The Republicans would love a coup that they could punt up to a compliant Supreme Court, and that would probably not be a coup with shooting in it. But a coup it would be nevertheless.
The best case scenario of the GOP being unwilling to disown Donald Trump and his coup attempt would be that the vast majority of the Republican House and Senate members are simply moral and political cowards. And they certainly are that. But every other action of the party shows that the cowardice is paired either with moral or political cynicism, or moral and political degeneration. There are unabashed bigots walking the halls of Congress, House members who are disappointed that the coup didn’t take, and senators who have stated that if the GOP takes back the House, it will impeach Joe Biden “whether it’s justified or not.” Cowards, cynics, bigots. And opportunists.
A political party that can’t turn its back on a traitor who endangered even some of its own members should not be trusted. A political party that embraces that same traitor and doubles down on its allegiance to him should be reviled. A political party that has decided to abandon the constitution and the republic should be dismantled. Here in 2022, when the Republican party has clearly and unambiguously done all three, no person with any sense of moral character or loyalty to the republic should vote for the GOP, for any position, at any level, or support it in any way, but especially with money.
This is easy enough for someone who registered as a Democrat, or, like me, someone who does not belong to any particular political party. It’s rather more difficult for someone who has been Republican or Republican-leaning their entire life. And while it’s easy to spot the people who are 100% in for White Christianist Fascism (hint: If you’re still flying a Trump flag in January 2022, you have the words “most likely to be a traitor” blinking like a neon sign over your head), there are millions who are still laboring under the impression that the attempted coup wasn’t as bad as all that, or that the GOP is somehow on a reasonable path.
For those people, here’s a simple test: Substitute the words “Donald Trump” with “Hillary Clinton” and “Trump supporters” with “Clinton supporters” and then run January 6 through your memory banks. You good with a President Hillary Clinton encouraging her supporters to storm the Capitol to stop the certification of, say, President-Elect Donald Trump as the 46th president? Unless you are absolutely 100 percent lying to yourself — and you may be! — your answer here is “Hell, no.” And you would be correct. It’s treason, and any political party giving aid and comfort to such an act is beyond redemption.
One year out from January 6, it’s become clearer than ever that our nation was threatened by a small and unworthy man, supported by a corrupt and cynical political party. The small, unworthy man is gone, for now. The corrupt and cynical party is still there, and it has learned no lesson other than “do it better the next time.” If you care about the United States at all, you will work toward there never being an opportunity for a next time, either for the Republican party or for anyone else who would hold this nation and its best values in such contempt. You’ll keep working at it for as long as you can. Because I promise you they’re not giving up. And they will be more competent at it the next time they try.