“This was an insurrection incited by the President.” — Republican Senator Mitt Romney
What a week it was. What an attack on democracy and how horrible the consequences. There can be no doubt, at least in my mind, that Mitt Romney is right. You simply cannot defend the indefensible.
President Donald Trump incited a riot, plain and simple. It was stunning to watch. He summoned the crowd in the first place. He intentionally fired them up. He urged them to “get rid of the weak Congress people” and then he sent them to the Capitol, where the House and Senate were in joint session to certify the election of Joe Biden as President.
He urged them to fight, fight, fight, raising his fists like a boxer, to ensure they got the message and adding, “This is the time for strength”. To top it off, his henchman, Rudy Giuliani, gleefully urged “trial by combat”. If all of that is not inciting an insurrection, I do not know what is.
The result is five people dead, elected representatives forced into hiding, and a ransacked Capitol building. Not to forget the global shock that this could happen in America, too close to home for many of us. Videos taken during the rioting clearly demonstrate the out-of-control anger, the hatred and the determination to overthrow Congress that ran freely through the halls of power.
And to watch Donald Trump, after the mob brutality he incited, actually come out and condemn the violence, drove incredulousness to a high new level. CTV’s Evan Solomon got it right when he said Trump “now condemns the fruit of the very poison tree he watered.”
There are few, I believe, that will now think that Donald Trump is fit to be the President of the United States. Last week was somewhat of a wake-up call, even for some of his ardent supporters. But there are some hard truths that need to be faced here, and one of them is how a person like Donald Trump ever got to be President of the United Sates in the first place and even now, at least before Wednesday, had very nearly half of the American voting population supporting him.
I have spent a lot of time over the years in the United States, and still have a number of friends there. Some of them are Republicans and I suspect they voted for Donald Trump. I know them to be good people who would abhor what happened in Washington this week. I spoke to two of them in recent days. They believe Donald Trump, in terms of his character, is unfit to be President.
The problem, however, and it is a serious one, is that they could not vote for the alternative, a political party that they sincerely believed was moving so far to the left it was sowing the seeds of socialism. That, too, was abhorrent to them and they felt between a rock and a hard place.
Politicians like Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who have espoused aspects of a socialist agenda, scare the hell out of people who are right of centre in their political thinking, who believe that government cannot be all things to all people, that free enterprise should be encouraged, excellence rewarded, and mediocrity discouraged.
President-elect Joe Biden has said time and time again, since his election, that he will govern for all Americans. He had better mean it and, more importantly, he had better do it. He appears to be a middle-of-the-road liberal. But if he caters in any way to the radical left in his party, as Donald Trump has catered to and enabled the radical right in the Republican Party, the great divide between left and right in the United States will continue to expand.
Joe Biden’s greatest success, or his greatest failure, as President of the United States will be determined by his ability to find a middle ground on which most Americans can feel comfortable. His party’s hold on the House of Representatives is diminished and control of the Senate is razor thin. Biden must now reach across the aisle. He has a reputation for doing that. He must encourage a sense of common good, unity on basic principles, and rejection of extremism. He must be seen as a healer and not a divider. If he can accomplish that, at a time when it is so sorely needed, he will go down in history as an effective president.
It is also important to note that if healing is to be effective, revenge must be put on the back burner. That is why, in my view, President-elect Biden has appeared cool to the growing movement to once again impeach Donald Trump, when he has little more than a week left in office. It is also worth noting that James Comey and John Bolton, both men who have every reason to dislike Donald Trump, believe he should not be impeached.
That Trump deserves impeachment is pretty clear, but its successful implementation, or invoking the 25th Amendment, besides being nearly impossible timewise, will have other less-desirable implications. It will embolden Trump’s base, to many it will give him martyr status, and it will impede any meaningful process of healing. Much better, in my view, to let him exit stage right, get him off the front page as much as possible, and add as little fuel as possible to the dangerous and incitive movement Trump has created that transcends and currently overshadows the Republican Party. Let’s just say goodbye.
On a closing note, I must admit I have some uneasiness about the decision to ban Donald Trump from Twitter. If I support it because I don’t like Donald Trump, what do I say when someone who I do support is banned and what is to stop that from happening? It is about censorship and freedom of speech and where to draw the line. I am still noodling that.
But that is a debate for another time.
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