Republican leaders begin their redemption tour today. Don’t give them an inch.
The president lied about winning reelection and the mainstream of his party went along with the lie.
They made up bullshit stories about voter fraud and tampering. State attorneys general filed a risible lawsuit last month to throw out election results in battleground states, and on Wednesday at least 140 Republican members of Congress intended to vote against certifying Joe Biden’s victory, citing no evidence of fraud. There was no legal theory underpinning their actions, no justification, only a blatant power grab.
It was entirely predictable that members of President Donald Trump’s conspiracy-addled base would attempt to overturn election results in a violent uprising on Wednesday, Jan. 6. The same groups of neo-Nazis and far-right nationalists who vandalized a Black church in the nation’s capital on Dec. 12 were openly planning violence on social media in the lead-up to the Jan. 6 Trump rallies in Washington D.C. Anyone paying attention knew that the day would end in bloodshed.
Law enforcement put up a flimsy resistance as rioters carrying Confederate flags, Punisher skull flags, and “Don’t Tread On Me” Gadsden flags climbed walls and tore down barricades to enter the Senate chamber. Eventually someone fired a bullet that killed an Air Force veteran who believed the QAnon conspiracy’s day of deliverance was at hand.
The insurrectionists do not represent a fringe of the Republican Party. Forty-five percent of Republican registered voters said in a survey Wednesday that they supported the storming of the U.S. Capitol building to prevent the certification of Biden’s presidential election victory. I believe that anyone can have a change of heart, but there is nothing worth redeeming in the political party that instigated Wednesday’s coup attempt.
If there is one lesson we can take away from the failure of Reconstruction following the last U.S. civil war, it is that we should not be lenient with fascists. Leaders of the Confederacy were allowed back in the halls of power, white vigilante mobs were allowed to terrorize newly enfranchised Black voters, and the momentary gains of the postwar era were erased following a grand act of compromise with Southern apartheid governments that led to the election of Rutherford B. Hayes.
In the near future Trump surrogates will pal around with cable news anchors, inveterate Trumpists will write memoirs claiming that they secretly hated Trump all along, and moderates of all stripes will demand civility.
I’m against civility. None of the parties involved in the Jan. 6 putsch deserve clemency, from the president down to the local city councilman who gave succor to the Proud Boys. There is no reason any of these people should be allowed near the levers of power again.
There is no room for their political rehabilitation. Don’t let them have it.