All Enemies, Foreign or Domestic

Have we had enough yet with those in government who make a mockery of their oath of office?

What can be done with members of Congress who do not take their oath of office seriously, who indeed brazenly mock it?

They should be expelled.

Whether this is politics due to ideology and personal gain, as we see in a Josh Hawley or a Ted Cruz, or politics of cowardice, in fear of your own constituents, it is a cancer that has to be excised. And as with all cancers, you have to get it all, to the margins.

During the first day of the second impeachment trial of Trump, Republican members of the Senate were seen reading (e.g., Hawley) or doodling (e.g., Rand Paul). On the last day of the House members presentation of their case, upwards of 18 so-called senators chose not to attend at all. Missouri Republican senator Roy Blunt referenced “our side,” when asked about the impeachment, which is completely counter to his oath to judge the evidence impartially. It appears now that Ted Cruz and other senators have been working with the defense lawyers.

House prosecutors made a more than compelling case against the former president—the lengthy history of Trump’s calls to violence, his Big Lie gambit about a stolen election and voter fraud (that actually dates back to the election of 2016, when he falsely claimed to have won the popular vote), and his activity in inviting his followers to Washington and funding his “Save America March” rally.

The defense which had 16 hours available to them on Friday to mount a coherent defense of the previous president, took only a fraction of that.

The defense ran to a lot of “whataboutisms” with clips, repeated a number of times, of various Democrats calling for supporters to “fight” and to “fight like hell,” discussion of the proceedings not being constitutional (a point settled by vote on day one), and remarks on the “political hatred” of Donald Trump.

The defense turned briefly to the First Amendment as it applies to political figures, arguing that Trump has the right to exhort his followers to fight politically, skipping over his serial lying about the election being stolen and his exhortations to the crowd to “fight harder” and to play “by very different rules”:

“When you catch somebody in a fraud, you are allowed to go by very different rules. So I hope Mike has the courage to do what he has to do, and I hope he doesn’t listen to the RINOs and the stupid people that he’s listening to.”

Courts have ruled that the First Amendment does not cover speech that incites or libels. It does not cover “fighting words.” Do we need a new judgment addressing mob speech? As a seasoned mob boss wannabe, Trump’s technique is to let it be known what he wants done but to give himself a verbal “out,” what politicians since Reagan have called plausible deniability.

Here the deniability is not plausible. But that matters not a jot to the MAGA faithful. They are in, not introspective. Trump called his faithful to his rally to “Stop the Steal,” where he told them they had to fight or they would lose their country. He assured them that the usual rules did not apply.

House managers showed multiple video clips of the riot in which those storming the building emphatically said that they were taking their marching orders from the former president. As the riot proceeded, his tweets were shouted out to encourage people further.

The MAGA faithful listened to him. And like everyone in Trump’s world, they will find that they are expendable.

Most tellingly, he did nothing to stop the rampage, waiting until his coup attempt had obviously failed before putting out one of his patented hostage-style statements to cover his tracks.

After all they had done to subvert democracy, with people dead and injured in the nation’s Capitol, Trump praised them as patriots. In the video in which he, at last, told them to go home, he finished with, “We love you. You’re very special.”

In a following tweet, he continued to push the lie about the election and praised those who had trashed the Capitol, fought with police in hand-to-hand combat, and threatened the lives of everyone in the building:

“These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long. Go home with love & in peace. Remember this day forever!”

Remember this day forever.

Note the implied continued threat in that statement. He might as well have said again, “Stand back and stand by.”

He had let it be known what he wanted over many months—even years, in terms of praising his “tough” followers and lying about election results. He advertised the rally, he apparently paid upwards of $50 million for it, and he had other speakers—Roger Stone, Donald Trump Jr., Rudy Giuliani—get the crowd properly stoked.

As a side note, one might pause to wonder how so many tough guys—former military, law enforcement—hang on every word emitting from the likes of effete, elite New Yorker Donald John Trump, the boy-man born with a silver ladle in his mouth, the twit who skipped out of serving his country (while continuing to ably serve on the tennis court), the phony businessman who has never shown any fealty to anything, not to the working people he refuses to pay or even to basic physical fitness.

One pauses in wonder for a nanosecond, that is, before thinking of his constant appeals to racism and sexism—not Reaganesque dog whistles but, you know, air-horn appeals, blasting incessantly.

As the House managers made clear, Trump has been toying with his ability to incite violence for some time. The beatings of protesters at his rallies led to the dress rehearsal of the “Unite the Right” white supremacist rally at Charlottesville, Va. (where Heather Heyer was killed at the age of 32), which led to the armed siege of the Capitol in Michigan—and the little matter of the plot by Trump supporters to kidnap and execute the governor—and this, in turn, led to him sending his mob marauding to the U.S. Capitol.

In each case, Trump was gleeful and supportive of the mob he had empowered. As his crowd stormed the Capitol, he reportedly enjoyed the show on TV and complained only that his supporters looked low-class.

The Trump-incited riot at the Capitol not only was carried out by numerous people with the murder of the vice president, the speaker of the house, and other members of Congress on their minds, it also revealed an incredible disdain for police officers, especially those of color. So much for the party of law and order, of honoring the thin blue line.

If you still support Trump, you might consider removing those yard signs.

If the senators do not do their duty—which many of them will not—the ramifications will go much further than opening the door to another run by Trump or a Trump-like populist demagogue, with a claim that the vote is rigged from the start. What has happened to our government in the time of Trump has radically changed how the United States is viewed around the globe.

In an appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Daniel Drezner, professor of international politics at Tufts, said that although America’s standing in the world has improved with Trump’s departure, there remain critical problems for foreign policy as a direct result of Trump’s takeover of the Republican party.

“The problem with January 6 and the problem with Republican senators en masse basically deciding that, despite the evidence that is literally in front of their face, they are going to acquit, is that they can no longer take U.S. democracy for granted, in a way they were able to do so for decades—indeed, in some cases, centuries.”

Drezner noted that other governments will now be naturally skittish about how to deal with the United States:

“The problem is not just Trump. The problem is what does the Republican party stand for….And is what they stand for consistent with what we could consider long-standing American values?”

One might remember that government officials in this country, governors of many states, found this to be a great issue with the Trump administration’s haphazard, confused, and downright contentious approach to the pandemic, pitting state against state, and making the wearing of masks a tribal issue. Although the situation is slowly improving, by June 1 the United States is still projected to have more than 600,000 deaths due to COVID-19.

In short, what Trump has done to the country is to create such deep resentments and division and pandemic sufferings that Vladimir Putin could only laugh or weep tears of gratitude, if he felt anything.

It always bears repeating: If Trump isn’t working for Putin, he might as well be.

And here we have members of Congress who refuse to live up to their oath of office, who must think it is some kind of joke and who openly work from their exalted positions in leadership to take down the republic. They clearly have no respect for their colleagues. As my wife pointed out, if you choose to not listen to a case, you should not have a vote.

Men and women who do not believe in government simply should not be part of government.

In 1858, quoting the Bible, Abraham Lincoln said “a house divided against itself cannot stand.” As we know now, that house is literally being dismantled from the inside.