So, we’ve had an act of sedition or insurrection, vandalism, a death being investigated as homicide, a cop killed, members of Congress being forced to flee or hide-in-place - some seen wearing gas hoods as they ran - theft of significant government property, an undermanned police force overrun and what could accurately be described as an act of attempted government-overthrow underwritten by our President.
Just another chapter in the life of one Donald James Trump? Or, possibly, a forced end to his four-year-term and unrelenting acts of Napoleon-like activities of his presidency?
Hardly! And, a day after the attack, we have a national poll showing some 48% of the Republican Party supports what happened. (IPSOS/MSNBC.) Can you believe that? Nearly half of a long-established, national political party is O.K. with acts described above.
Much has been said/written about all that. More will be. I’ll let the national folks sort it all out. They’ve got larger budgets.
But, here are a few thoughts on all the above. Quite possibly, you can add the end of some young political careers. You’ve got a Senator from Missouri, for example - one Josh Hawley - who’s attached his fortunes to a series of bad decisions by leading the charge to throw out some legitimately cast votes of a few - if not all - states.
On the day after the riot, it was interesting to hear the words of his political mentor - former Senator John Danforth of Missouri - who ran interference for Hawley in the 2018 Republican primaries and helped him beat former Senator Claire McCaskill in the general. Said Danforth, 24-hours after the Capitol attack, about his decision to mentor Hawley, “That was the worst decision of my life.”
You can also add the widely-circulated description of Hawley by another Republican - Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska. Just two words: “dumb ass.” Words not heard much in public by one member of “the world’s greatest deliberative body” to describe a peer. But, “dumb ass” it is. Imagine those words from a Frank Church or a Len Jordan.
But, let’s lift our eyes to the horizon and consider this. The 261 Republicans in Congress are at a dangerous point in their political careers - danger they’ve spent years courting and building. Do they continue to support Trump unquestioningly as they did last year during the impeachment hearings? Or, will they have a “come-to-Jesus-moment” after which they take a hard turn toward the middle of the political landscape?
Our last national vote had some 70-million - more-or-less - Republican souls backing Trump. In other words, listing to the far right. But, subtract those voting “no” on Biden, and those who may be heart-sick, if not downright outraged, by the Capitol attack. And, maybe a few million more who looked at the stock market and didn’t want to upset anything.
My guess is, if that same national election were held today, the outcome might be significantly different. We Americans don’t have much empowerment over the daily activities of our members of Congress. So, we sort of “accept” whatever happens over a two-and-four-year political stretch and use our vote - our legally permitted hammer - to make ourselves heard via the ballot box.
Given Trump’s comments and tweets since the Capitol attack about “staying active” and being “supportive” of those who hew to his crazed line of thought, he’s not going away. For now.
Which creates a problem for the national media. After leaving office in disgrace - to nearly everyone but him - how much coverage does the media give Trump in the future? Like it or not, he’s not going anywhere. He’ll just be getting his mail at a different address. Remember, the media bears some responsibility for DJT’s public persona, giving him, at times, a larger-than-life character status.
So, as he starts bloviating from Mar-A-Lago or Trump Tower, as a former President of these United States, how many minutes does he get nightly on the tube or inches of type in the papers? Aside from the certain legal problems he’ll have, will there be viewer and reader interest in his “comings-and-goings?” Some hard choices ahead for producers/editors concerned with ratings and circulation.
As for the rioters, will those arrested be treated with “kid gloves” as has been the case for decades after D.C. protests? Or will judges, there and around the country, use maximum sentences as the various laws allow? Will the courts send a message to those sick souls that national patience is at an end? One can only hope.
It’s not just politicians who’ve reached a time of political decision-making. Each of us is at that same moment, as well. What kind of governance do we want? How do we want to deal with miscreants who chose violence? What about Hannity/Limbaugh/Beck/Ingraham/Proud Boys/Qanon/Deep State and all the rest?
How will WE deal with them? That’s where you and I come in.