“Every man has the right to an opinion but no man has a right to be wrong in his facts, nor, above all, to persist in errors as to facts.” — Bernard Baruch (1946)
I was not surprised at what president-elect Biden called an attempted insurrection that bordered on sedition on Jan. 6, 2021. It will be a day that will live, like the Pearl Harbor attack or 9/11, as a day of infamy in American history. There are several lessons to take from this attempted coup that are worth noting.
Words matter, especially when they come from the President of the United States. It is clear that President Trump encouraged a coup d’état, and many of his followers believed him over the voting results of 50 states and 90 judges, several of whom had been appointed by Trump.
Donald Trump pushed for this very end ever since at least the spring of 2020 when he stated that he would only accept the election results if he won. Otherwise, the election was rigged. No one should really be surprised that he came out on Jan. 6 and spoke to a crowd of his supporters, telling them he had won the election by a large margin, then encouraging them to go to the Capitol and to be strong.
Trump criticized his own vice president, telling him to break the law, which Mike Pence refused to do. This was Pence’s first act of rebellion against his president whom he had faithfully defended for the past four years. Pence understood that the words in the Constitution and the laws of Congress matter.
The biblical verse James 3:5 says it well: “In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire.”
Many Republican senators and representatives care more about their own self-interest and pleasing Trump’s base in the primaries than they do about keeping their oath of office. Six Republican senators and 126 representatives resisted the will and decision of the people in a largely fraud-free election by voting against the Electoral College results.
What they did would be considered a treasonous act in many countries, but not under the very narrow definition of treason as defined by the Constitution: “Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.”
These individuals who openly opposed the certified Electoral College votes should be marked and thrown out of office at their very next election. To allow them to continue to serve will only encourage others who are more clever and less incompetent than Trump, who tweeted his malicious intentions, to succeed next time.
We have just witnessed an attempt to replace our representative form of democracy with authoritarian fascism. Fascism is defined by wordnik as: “A system of government marked by centralization of authority under a dictator, a capitalist economy subject to stringent governmental controls, violent suppression of the opposition, and typically a policy of belligerent nationalism and racism.”
Trump refused to concede the election even after he was defeated both in the popular and electoral vote, filing at least 60 lawsuits challenging the results in various battleground states and appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court twice. In all but one minor concession, his suits and those of his allies were rejected as having no standing and/or factual basis.
The insurgents who breached the Capitol’s inner chambers demonstrated their disdain for our democracy. What their goals were is uncertain — perhaps to destroy the electoral votes, or to execute Speaker of the House Pelosi and other Democratic leaders, or even to hang Vice President Pence for his “disloyalty” to Trump. At least one man openly carried a Confederate flag, demonstrating that he was both a racist and a rebel. Demonstrators gleefully took over the “Peoples’ house” as they called it, forgetting that the word “people” means more than white males and females who support Trump.
The fascist section of the Republican party that we see today needs to die. Fascism cannot continue to exist.
Our government has survived the insurrection, this time. Our checks and balances and the integrity of a few people in power prevailed, but it must be remembered that unless we can agree on what is fact and what is fable, and not “persist in errors as to facts,” we will see this happen again in our lifetimes. Complacency and self-seeking could destroy the very freedoms the insurgents claimed they wanted. Democracy must be defended or we will lose it.
Sen. Mitt Romney’s comment reflects what was needed after Republican objections to the Electoral College tally: “The best way we can show respect for the voters who were upset is by telling them the truth.”