Opinions vary on the meaning of the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol yesterday.There are those who see it as more minor. They point to the riots on the left this past summer (and beyond in many cities) and basically think that those were seen by Big Media and the radical left as legitimate, so what’s the big deal if a ragtag group of idiots breaks a few windows at the Capitol? They didn’t stop the certification and they were never going to, so while it’s bad, it’s not a catastrophe.
I disagree. I think it is a Very Big Deal.
For one thing, I worry about the long-term effect of the precedent set here — not just by the storming of the Capitol, but the entire effort to reverse the election results. My opinions on what ought to happen to the people involved are unpublishable, but it is a matter of record that I would support (at a minimum) the participants being tarred and feathered and run out of town on a rail. Literally. I would also support their expulsion from Congress. I would also support their being denied committee memberships and chairs and the like. There’s actually very little I would not support being done to them, but now we’re getting into the unpublishable part again. (I’m glad that cooler heads are prevailing and that my wishes are not being carried out, because it would probably create martyrs and be counterproductive.)
Why am I so virulently opposed? Because this entire enterprise makes it that much less likely that we will ever have a completely peaceful transfer of power again. First of all, the immoral sentiment that “we get to do what the worst people on the other side have done, and in fact we get to escalate it!” is not unique to the right. If you don’t think evil demagogues on the left stand ready to exploit that sentiment, you haven’t been paying attention. And even if it is unique to the right, who the hell cares? We don’t want to say that this is how we do business going forward — that in literally every election going forward, all the loser has to do is refuse to concede, make shit up about what happened, and a mob of goons will scurry to validate the lies and use them as a justification to act violently.
We’re already seeing the precedent play out, in the absolutely disgraceful refusal of the Senate in Pennsylvania to swear in a duly elected state senator whose opponent’s challenges have all been rejected by the state’s highest court, and whose elected has been certified by the proper authorities there. We’re seeing it in the statement of the execrable David Perdue, who darkly suggests that his defeat might have been fraudulent. Donald Trump’s infantile butthurt over losing an election is immensely corrosive to our civic society, and will have ripple effects for God knows how long.
As for comparisons to the BLM riots, this was worse because it was an attack on our government, but I want to take a moment to make it very, very clear that I am second to nobody in my disgust for the constant rioting that has been taking place. I am in law enforcement. I believe in law and order and the rule of law. While I decried what Donald Trump did to peaceful protestors in Lafayette Square, I actually thought he was right in his criticisms of the Democrat mayors who simply let their cities burn. Few things are more destabilizing and frightening than watching civil society go to hell, and one of the acts that was the closest parallel to what we saw yesterday was the setting of a police station on fire in Minneapolis. That is a direct assault on the people who protect our society, and that kind of thing cannot be tolerated. Anybody who tries to ding me for being upset about yesterday, and tries to mount some kind of personal attack on me premised on the notion that I minimized the riots — simply because they were not an actual attack on the pillar of our federal government — is persona non grata here. It’s obvious that an actual insurrection is worse, but that in no way minimizes what BLM has done to our country, and indeed I think our 2020 election results, to the extent that they were favorable to the GOP, were a backlash to exactly the sort of “defund the police” mindset that I have consistently opposed and decried. If you suggest that I am anything less than foursquare opposed to that sort of mindset or to riots, you are wrong and you are offensively wrong, and you owe me an apology. I take that sort of thing very personally.
So why do I say yesterday was worse, though? Look at what is happening across the world today. Dictators in Venezuela and Turkey are reveling in our dysfunction. Erdogan is offering to send aid to help us — as he laughs and laughs and laughs. There were people roaming our streets demanding loyalty oaths to Trump, and roaming our Capitol shouting “where is Pence?” — people who might have killed Pence had they found him. Watch some of the footage to see what it was like. People who murder journalists and dissidents have scored the greatest propaganda victory of my lifetime. This is a Big F*cking Deal.
Meanwhile, I saw a bunch of lovely speeches on TV yesterday from Senators like Rand Paul and Marco Rubio saying that Congress simply can’t do what the Trumpers want, and that they have been misled. Would that they have told that to the people before yesterday.
I’d like to think yesterday was a turning point. Kelly Loeffler and others (not all) withdrew their objections as if they had finally recognized that this is Not a Game. People are resigning from the Trump administration (a tiny, tiny bit) early. Trump has opened an account on Parler — a fringe figure retreating to a fringe platform.
My optimism is probably ill-founded. The “what did you expect?” takes from the Tough Crowd are already being published and garnering those all-important clicks, to the point where, on fringe sites like the one I used to work for, it’s now apostasy to suggest that maybe yesterday should not be justified. (But the apostasy is being published by the courageous and ought to be recognized. Well done, Joe.)
But for today, I’ll remain content in my fantasy that this has destroyed the political careers of Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, and anyone else who instigated this rebellion.