Well, it finally happened.
One way or the other, Donald Trump has been building up his backers and his base to this moment from before the 2016 election. Trump talked virtually non-stop about elections being rigged, about being cheated out of a popular vote victory, arguments regarding the numbers at his inauguration speech, and every complaint regarding the power he has wanted to exercise, whether legally or not, as Commander in Chief. That same language continued into the 2020 presidential campaign, insisting that if Trump lost, the ONLY reason that could be was that the election was rigged, that his reelection to the presidency was an axiomatic certainty. Well after the election had been determined, first by popular vote and then by the Electoral College, Trump maintained his insistence that the election had been stolen, that he had won in a landslide. Lawsuits from the president and his adjutants ensued in a vain effort to challenge certified state election results. Those legal efforts resulted in ONE minor victory out of over 60 suits filed. Undaunted, Trump persisted.
Then in December of 2020, Trump suggested to his base that they should assemble in Washington, DC, during the Congressional verification of the Electoral College vote, claiming that the purpose would be to support and cheer on those Senators and Congresspersons who had announced that they were objecting to the count of the EC, that there were irregularities in the vote. It will be “wild,” said Trump. Assemble, they did at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, where Trump told the crowd that: “We’re going walk down to the Capitol, and we’re going to cheer on our brave senators, and congressmen and women. We’re probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them because you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength, and you have to be strong.” It is worthy of note that in remarks Rudy Giuliani made to that same crowd, he stated the following:
Over the next 10 days, we get to see the machines that are crooked, the ballots that are fraudulent. And if we're wrong, we will be made fools of. But if we're right, and lot of them will go to jail. So -- let's have trial by combat.
“Trial by combat?” “You have to be strong?” The purpose of the harangue coming from Trump and Trump, Jr. and Giuliani could not have been more transparent if it were a product from Pittsburgh Plate Glass, and it had precisely the desired effect, which played out on the afternoon of 6 January, 2021, outside and inside the Capitol building. That travesty has been called an insurrection or an attempt at sedition. In this author’s opinion, it was neither. The crowd did indeed break into the Capitol, did considerable damage, and delayed the counting of electoral ballots, before reinforcements from the National Guard and state police forces cleared the building, restored order, and arrested entirely too few of the perpetrators. Beginning at 8 PM that evening and running into the next day, the House and Senate reconvened and completed their work, confirming that Joseph R. Biden, Jr. and Kamala Harris would be the next President and Vice President of the United States. The 10-point cluster-fuck which preceded that process had neither the organization nor the focus to be an insurrection or a coup d’état, and it wasn’t.
What we saw that day was a greatly enhanced and amplified presidential temper tantrum, a monumental and yet ultimately impotent fit of pique which accomplished NOTHING, encouraged and inspired by a 74-year-old man-child who wanted his shiny toy and couldn’t get it, and executed by followers who were even less clue-full about how to overthrow a government than the president was. I won’t call it a “last gasp.” There are, as of this writing, 12 days left to the administration of Donald John Trump, and it is highly dubious that either an action based in the 25th Amendment or a new Congressional impeachment proceeding will remove the president from office before 20 January. On the plus side, Trump is now cut off from his usual means of rabble-rousing. His Facebook, Instagram, and most importantly, Twitter accounts have all been suspended indefinitely, and outside of a teleprompter-fed “concession” speech, we’ve heard little from him since that infamous afternoon. On the minus side, he’s still the president.
And “eternal vigilance” was never more important than it is right now.