So that was the personal life stuff. The first week of 2021 has been insanely loaded with national news though. I’ll try to be brief with them.
On Sunday, January 3, a phone call was released where President Trump spent about an hour leaning on the Georgia Secretary of State to help him overturn the election results there. He told him he needed to find 12,000 votes. He badgered him about a bunch of conspiracy theories. He threatened him and his lawyer. That was a big deal for a couple of days. There was talk about investigating the president over it.
Then came the Georgia Senate runoff election. Georgia has been a reliable Republican stronghold, but they narrowly went for Biden back in November. If the two Democrats won the Senate would be a 50-50 split with the tiebreaker going to the president of the Senate, who is the vice president, who will be Kamala Harris. If either Democrat lost Republicans would maintain control of the Senate and Mitch McConnell, who prides himself on being called the Grim Reaper, would stonewall anything the Biden administration would try to accomplish.
Raphael Warnock was called the winner in his election that night, January 5, becoming the first black Senator from Georgia. The other race was closer, but it was looking good in the wee hours of the night for the other Democrat, Jon Ossoff, and it was called for him the next day. That didn’t get as much attention as anyone would have thought the day before because something else happened on Wednesday the 6th.
On the 6th, Congress met to certify the presidential election results, which is normally a purely rote and ceremonial thing. President Trump and his people, however, had been doing everything in their power to seed doubt about the election, alleging fraud with no actual proof, having 60 or so lawsuits dismissed because of lack of evidence. Their last ditch idea was for Vice President Mike Pence to reject some of the state electors, even though that’s not technically something he can do.
Trump had told people to show up in Washington DC that day. He had a speech where people were fired up with fiery language by Rudy Giuliani and Mo Brooks, capped off with the President himself talking about how unfair the election was and telling the crowd to go to the Capitol. He even said he’d be there with them, though he didn’t show, opting instead to hang out in the White House and watch what was to come, gleefully, by later reports.
The crowd headed to the Capitol, where Congress was in the process of certifying the election. Long story short, a segment of the crowd decided to storm the Capitol. People were calling to hang Mike Pence for not overturning the election, which they saw as a betrayal. A gallows was erected in front of the Capitol and some people had zip tie handcuffs. Some people milled about, but some people went looking for politicians, though thankfully they were all kept safe. I shudder to imagine what the mob would have done if they’d gotten their hands on Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, Bernie Sanders, or particularly someone like Ilhan Omar or, most especially, Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez.
One black Capitol Police Officer lured a crowd away from the chamber. One officer was killed after being bludgeoned with a fire extinguisher. Another sustained injuries from being crushed in a door. Many others were injured, and this from the “blue lives matter” crowd. I guess they matter until they don’t, but at least they didn’t use the kind of force on this crowd that they have on Black Lives Matter crowds, or protesting teachers, or protesting disabled people, in the past, right?
One civilian was shot and later died as she tried to make her way into a secure hallway that led to where Congress was. According to reports, one guy died of a heart attack after accidentally tazing himself in the balls and a lady carrying a Don’t Tread on Me flag was trampled to death. Another person died of a heart attack.
Pipe bombs were found outside the Republican National Convention and the Democratic National Convention offices. Offices were trashed, windows smashed. People pissed and shat on things and I’d be shocked if other bodily fluids were not left. Fortunately none of the major works of art seem to have suffered any damage.
Seeing pictures of people sitting on the dais in the House chamber, some old dude putting his feet up on Nancy Pelosi’s desk, all these people swarming the place, it gave me the same feeling I had when someone broke into an apartment I used to live in. It felt violating. One man was carrying a large Confederate flag around. Think about that: The Confederate Army was unable to accomplish that during the Civil War, and some random racist asshole took it in there and paraded it around. It’s shameful.
There are a lot of questions, unanswered at this point in time, as to why the Capitol Police were so underprepared and why it took so long for meaningful backup to arrive. Donald Trump refused to send anybody in and it’s reported that Mike Pence was the one to get things moving. Some Capitol Police took selfies with the rioters. There’s video of some of them letting people in and directing them where to go. It’s not difficult to imagine that some were sympathetic and even on their side. Two have already been fired and around a dozen are under investigation.
What was the President doing in all this? There’s video of him watching it on TV with music blaring in the background and Don Jr. treating it like a party. He did issue one statement for people to go home, but throughout it he kept talking about how the election was stolen and how “We love you. You’re very special.” Hardly a strong rebuke. And afterwards he was convinced to go on camera condemning the actions. He was very obviously reading from a teleprompter and it was editing, as evidenced by the camera angle changing a few times, which you never see in an address like that. His movement was also very awkward. I pointed out to my friend Jason that it looked like the way people move in video games, like there’s just a little too much extraneous movement for it to be natural. I’m not saying it wasn’t him, just that it was really awkward looking to me.
So the President of the United States complained about how unjust an election was for weeks, invited his followers to Washington DC, whipped them up some more, and pointed them at the Capitol, where Congress was in the final stages of of the electoral process he had won. He had people attack a co-equal branch of government because he’s a narcissistic man-baby who can’t deal with losing, and in his tantrum has fractured the trust in the foundations of the world’s oldest democracy. And the sad part, the truly sad part, is that so many Americans think they’re the patriots, the good guys saving us from an unjust tyrannical government, lacking the self-awareness that they’re promoting fascism.
There’s been a lot of fallout from this. A number of Trump’s cabinet members and other high-ranking officials have resigned. People, including Republicans, are calling for him to step down, even though he was two weeks away from being out of office. People are calling on Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment to force him to step down. An Article of Impeachment has been drawn up, the charge being that the President of the United States with “incitement to insurrection.”
As of right now, it’s very likely he will be impeached, but not removed as Mitch McConnell said the Senate won’t be back in session until the day before Joe Biden’s inauguration. There’s talk of putting the Senate portion of it off until after 100 days of Biden’s administration to give him time to get things up and running.
Some conservatives have been trying to mitigate the blame. Many online are saying that the incident was set off by Antifa people disguised as MAGAs, which doesn’t really hold up. One person I knew who was there (at the protest, but not in the Capitol) said people who were wearing Antifa stuff under MAGA clothes tried to get his group to come along with them, although he has yet to tell me what wearing Antifa stuff means or why they would wear whatever that is under their MAGA stuff. There’s also the fact that I’ve taken a look at pro-Trump sites where people are upset that Antifa is getting credit for their “accomplishment” of storming the Capitol.
Other conservatives are saying you can’t be upset about this protest and not be upset about the Black Lives Matter protests that took place over several months last year. Recognizing that looting and rioting shouldn’t happen in any case, such statements ignore the fact that one is a protest against police killing black people and the other is the President getting people to attack a sitting Congress in order to over throw election results because he can’t handle losing. One is for for better treatment, the other is an attempt at subverting the government.
A lot of Republican lawmakers are invoking unity, which has been a message of Joe Biden’s. They’re saying you can’t try to force the president out, especially this close to the end of his presidency, because over 70 million people voted for Trump and it’ll make them angry. This is true, but inciting insurrection against the United States cannot go unpunished. Part of healing is confronting the problem, and to not punish Donald Trump would set a terrible precedent for what a President can get away with, not to mention that it would tell all his conspiracy theorist followers that they can get away with it. They’re already gleeful at how easy it was to take over the Capitol without even being armed.
The biggest consequence Donald Trump has seen is being kicked off social media platforms, with the tech companies not wanting to be a part of any further damage he might do. Parler, an upstart company that became popular with right wingers for its totally hands-off approach to mediating content, was kicked off Amazon’s servers, effectively shutting it down. Some people are howling about First Amendment violations, overlooking the fact that private companies are not subject to the First Amendment. And of course, these people would be quick to shut down a platform that was used by Muslim terrorists to coordinate actions against the US.
It’s a mess and even if Donald Trump stepped down today (he might as well; he hasn’t done any leading of consequence in the last few days) or Mike Pence 25th’ed him, his followers are convinced of their righteousness. It’s not going away any time soon.