The consequences of Wednesday’s frontal assault on Congress continue to pile up in snowdrifts, but it is far too early to talk about “aftermath.” In fact, Wednesday appears to be only the beginning.
Parler, the web platform that saw its user numbers surge after Facebook and Twitter increased restrictions on false stories of a stolen election, has gone dark. Apple and Google stripped the site from their app stores, and Amazon — the company hosting the site itself — has pulled the plug.
“Republicans have no way to communicate,” puled a deeply complicit Devin Nunes on Fox News. In combination with Twitter’s decision to permanently ban Donald Trump, this is the modern technological equivalent of the telegraph lines to and from 1939 Berlin getting cut on the eve of the invasion of Poland.
Sites like Gab will likely scoop up the refugees from Parler, and the planning for further violence in the week of the Inauguration will continue apace. As for the silenced Trump, he’s off to Alamo, Texas, tomorrow — ravishing irony, that — to visit one of the pieces of his pathetic “wall” that dot the southern border like so many rotten teeth. There will be plenty of cameras following him, and he is in no mood to be shy.
According to posts on far-right sites like TheDonald.win, energy appears to be coalescing around an armed nationwide assault on state capitals all across the country. “The specified locations include the U.S. Capitol and the Mall in Washington, the Utah Capitol in Salt Lake City, and locations in Pittsburgh and Columbus, Ohio,” reports The Washington Post. “Some events, including an ‘Armed March on All State Capitals,’ include localized events in all 50 states.”
Similar sabers are being rattled about further attacks on January 19, and an assault upon the inauguration itself on January 20. “The stuff I’ve heard in the last 72 hours — from members of Congress, law enforcement friends, gun shop owners, MAGA devotees — is absolutely chilling,” Politico’s chief political correspondent Tim Alberta tweeted on Sunday. “We need to brace for a wave of violence in this country. Not just over the next couple of weeks, but over the next couple of years.”
At this crossroads, the House of Representatives is lugubriously rousing itself to act. Speaker Nancy Pelosi today brought to the floor a bill demanding that Vice President Pence begin the process of presidential removal via the 25th Amendment. She sought to pass this by acclimation, meaning unanimous passage without a vote, which immediately drew a Republican objection. Because of that objection, an up-or-down vote will happen tomorrow and the legislation will likely pass thanks to the Democratic majority in that chamber.
Also today, and in lieu of the anticipated lack of co-operation by Pence, the House has formally introduced a lone article of impeachment against Trump, this time for “incitement of insurrection.” A vote could come as early as Wednesday. “Compared to that, the charges against Andrew Johnson and Richard Nixon, and Bill Clinton, and even the earlier charges against this president, are mewling little things,” writes Esquire blogger Charles P. Pierce. “This is a Jeff Davis charge.”
If Pence refuses to deploy the 25th per the Pelosi legislation, the Speaker has vowed to begin proceedings for a second impeachment of Donald Trump. Democratic unity on this course is not set; some like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her allies in “The Squad” want an impeachment sent immediately to the Senate for a vote. Others like Rep. James Clyburn have suggested holding off on that Senate vote for 100 days, to allow the incoming Biden administration to utilize the Senate for filling Cabinet positions and launching a robust COVID relief and vaccination platform.
Much depends on Mike Pence. He waved off the idea of invoking the 25th Amendment over the weekend, but the intervening days have been filled with graphic footage and reports from Wednesday that show precisely what that far-right mob was about: Murder by hanging, violent beatings, kidnapping and hostage-holding with zip ties, for openers. Trump incited that, and Pence is watching the walls close in with every second of aired video.
They murdered a police officer who was a veteran of overseas tours in the Bush wars. He was himself a Trump supporter, and he made it all the way home only to be murdered by fellow Trump supporters beneath the Capitol dome. I have some ideas of what those people can do with their “Blue Lives Matter” flags. It involves a good deal of shoving and a modicum of shame.
The calendar augurs a difficult path toward removing Trump before his time is up, thanks to the canine servility of men like Pence and Mitch McConnell. Even after a cadre of Trump voters tried to bullrush them — and democracy — out of the building, they continue to bend a knee to the might of that constituency within their failing party. Impeachment and the 25th will be a tough nut for no other reason than Mike and Mitch continue to stand in the doorway and refuse to act.
It is time to take a broom to the shattered glass strewn on the marble tiles of this staggering democracy, and it’s past time for Republicans to get in line. Democrats, liberals, progressives, activists and people of good conscience can bellow themselves hoarse and fling impeachment articles around the room, and the people who think the sacking of the Capitol was grand will tune them out as noisy socialists. The Republicans created this monster. They must now get the net.
The radicalization of the Republican right did not come down the escalator in 2015 with Donald Trump. It was there in 1964 when Barry Goldwater extolled the virtues of extremism to a rapturous crowd.
It was there in 1968 when Richard Nixon’s racist “Southern Strategy” laid the blueprint for hundreds of subsequent divide-and-conquer Republican political campaigns all across the nation.
It was there when Ronald Reagan unleashed four decades and counting of dissolution and strife by proclaiming “Government is the problem,” even as he augmented Nixon’s game plan.
It was there when George W. Bush peddled hate and fear after 9/11.
It was there when the rise of a Black president motivated the current president to undertake a campaign of racist lies about where Mr. Obama was born.
It is nurtured and coddled in every far-right “Christian” megachurch that peddles racism, misogyny, homophobia and paranoia about the dominant religion in the land being “under attack.”
Donald Trump saw that keg of leaky dynamite and began flipping matches at it because he is a wrecker, and this is his way. It exploded on Wednesday. There are more such kegs, and a number of them appear to be on their way not only to state capitals next week, but the presidential inauguration itself.
We are 10,000 miles past the point where Republicans who own this calamity should do what must be done to defuse this thing. Look outside, fellas. The wolf is at your door, too.