It’s nice to finally have the Trump administration in the rearview mirror, impeachment included. We’ve now had 45 consecutive peaceful transfers of power. We should all be proud.
Many of my Ferguson friends viewed Trump’s acquittal as a final affront to our democracy. Me, I wasn’t sure if he was guilty of the actual charge, inciting an insurrection. As much as I dislike Trump, I could never convince myself to view him as an evil genius. He always seemed more like a sometimes-bumbling narcissist that didn’t care about the impact of his words, as long as they kept attention on him. I just can’t believe that Trump was calling for an armed insurrection.
Instead he was treating the Constitution like he treated every other contract – something to be gotten around to get what he wanted. He convinced himself that there was enough vagueness in the Constitution that the passion of his supporters might persuade Congress or Vice President Pence to break the process. And who knows, if it broke, maybe it would break his way. The same goes for most of the rioters – they weren’t there to start an armed insurrection. They went to Congress because their President told them not only that the election had been stolen, but that the Constitution provided a path to correct the injustice.
Seven Republican Senators voted to convict Trump. Maybe they viewed the riot as an insurrection. Maybe they saw the Impeachment as an indictment of Trump’s larger body of work, a lifetime achievement award of sorts. Conservatism has viewed its role as protecting the institutions of our civil society, because absent civil society life still tends to be nasty, brutish and short. Trump did spend four years tweeting nasty, brutish attacks on the institutions of our democracy.
The Democratic House chose the charge of Insurrection. But when talking about the actual event most Democrats usually described it as a riot. To me it feels like a stretch to say “insurrection” when no rioter fired a shot, they didn’t bring weapons, they seemed to have no idea what to do and it was over before supper. Maybe historians will label it the “Mid Afternoon Insurrection”.
I have to say, the histrionics of many of the Democrats made me chuckle. Numerous Democrats suggested a “bloodbath” would have occurred if the rioters had been Black Lives Matters protesters. Our own Rep. Cori Bush, an early Ferguson protester, suggested “Black people would have been shot”. You wonder which protest movement they are talking about; to my knowledge the police have killed no BLM protesters at any protest. Democrats also predicted a bloodbath if the rioters had actually confronted Congress; one local Democratic consultant suggesting they would have “ripped Pelosi limb from limb.” Again, it was hard not to think of the BLM protests. For all of the predictions that anger would become physical violence, it almost never happened. It seems a strange double standard to assume the Capital Police would have turned the halls of Congress into rivers of protester blood, just because the protesters were Black, and that the Trump protesters would have turned Congress into rivers of Congressional blood, just because the protesters were white.
A handful of the rioters seemed to have bad intentions. Thankfully, we’ll never know what might have happened. Once the riot started, the Capital Police handled it exactly the way they should have. They removed the members of Congress to ensure their safety and then did their best to also ensure that no more American citizens – even misguided Americans – lost their lives.
Only time will tell how history judges Trump. Did he trash our democracy, or just trash talk it? As near as I can tell our democratic institutions shined during the election. We had record turnout, no real fraud or foreign interference, we got every vote counted, and the courts fulfilled their role. I have to admit, I was embarrassed for our country as I watched the mayhem on TV. Hopefully the rioters are as embarrassed for themselves as we are for them. But now how we handled the riot it makes me proud. A democracy isn’t a piece of fine china. It’s a process for peacefully channeling the broad, disparate, intense ebb and flow of emotions of a nation. And ours worked, yet again. Congratulations, America.