Viewers across America and throughout the world watched with horror and disillusionment Wednesday, Jan. 6, as a Trump-inspired insurrection resulted in the takeover of the U.S. Capitol and temporary disruption of the final step in the national election process. If you remember where you were on 9/11 you will probably remember where you were on 1/6 when the Capitol came under attack.
Consider the events of the past week:
Sunday, the president made a direct assault to overturn an election, memorialized in an audio tape, on Georgia election officials – “I just want to find 11,780 votes.”
Monday, he attacked Georgia’s Republican leadership and complained more about voter fraud than boosting two GOP Senate candidates.
Tuesday’s GOP Senate election losses in Georgia flipped the Senate in large part due to the self-centered, undisciplined president.
Wednesday, at a rally near the White House, Trump gave license to a mob to attack the Capitol as the United States devolved into the “American carnage” President Trump noted in his inaugural. “American carnage” bookends the Trump presidency.
Words such as chaos, dishonor, desecration and shame are not enough. Insurrection, sedition and treason are just as relevant.
Rudy Giuliani and Donald Trump Jr., fueled the fire that powered the demonstrators.
Giuliani told the crowd that audits of votes in some states would prove fraud by officials and “if we’re right a lot of them will go to jail. Let’s have trial by combat.”
Trump Jr. amped up the crowd attacking some Republicans: The rally itself “should be a message to all the Republicans…. This isn’t their Republican Party anymore! This is Donald Trump’s Republican Party!”
Then the president spent more than an hour replaying threadbare grievances, adding that the election was an “egregious assault on our democracy,” as he urged supporters to “walk down to the Capitol.”
Republican’ including Mitch McConnell, Mike Pence, Mitt Romney and Lindsey Graham came through Wednesday as the presidency of Joe Biden was affirmed.
McConnell’s speech, perhaps his last as leader of the Senate, was an impassioned plea to reject challenges to certified electors: “The voters, the courts, and the states have all spoken…. If this election were overturned by mere allegations from the losing side, our democracy would enter a death spiral. We’d never see the whole nation accept an election again.”
Romney said, “What happened here today was an insurrection, incited by the president.” To the Republicans seeking to overturn results he said “They will be remembered for their role in this shameful episode in American history. That will be their legacy.”
Lindsey Graham called President-elect Joe Biden “lawfully” elected. “As a conservative … the most offensive concept in the world (is) that one person could disenfranchise 155 million people…. To the conservatives who believe in the Constitution now’s your chance to stand up and be counted.”
Vice President Pence clearly rejected Trump and the idea that he could overturn an election.
Defense officials spoke out. Ten former secretaries of defense from both parties are concerned enough to admonish the military and its civilian leaders to refrain from “any political actions that undermine the results of the election or hinder the success of the new team.”
Former Trump defense secretary Jim Mattis Wednesday wrote that “Today’s violent assault on our Capitol, an effort to subjugate American democracy by mob rule, was fomented by Mr. Trump.”
So did Trump initiate an insurrection – “a violent uprising against an authority or government?” Did he engage in sedition when he called the Georgia secretary of state and later urged supporters to march on the Capital – “conduct or speech inciting people to rebel against the authority of a state?” Did he commit treason – “intentionally betraying one’s allegiance by levying war against the government or giving aid or comfort to its enemies?”
For those who believe in traditional Republican values, it’s worth reflecting on.
Donald Trump Jr.’s comment on Jan. 6: “This isn’t their Republican Party anymore! This is Donald Trump’s Republican Party!” Donald Trump Jr. is considered a potential presidential candidate in 2024. Think about it.
For years I was a Republican, including seven years in three administrations in Washington, traveling extensively abroad. Then and in the years that followed, despite controversial issues that tested the nation, the U.S. continued to be a source of hope and a symbol of freedom and democracy. Sadly, today’s headlines here and abroad suggest that may no longer be the case.
Carl Gustin is a North Shore resident who writes occasionally on local, regional and national issues.