Guy Farmer: Insurrection on Capitol Hill
Wednesday was a profoundly sad day as shots rang out at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., when violent anarchists, not “protesters,” invaded the Capitol and shut it down as Congress was certifying former Vice President Joe Biden as the next president of the United States. The conservative Washington Examiner accused lame duck President Trump of fomenting a “seditious insurrection.”
Although Trump eventually weighed-in with a lukewarm condemnation of the violence, he continued to complain about a “rigged” and “stolen” presidential election. Perhaps the 18th century Bard himself, William Shakespeare, foresaw the future when he wrote about “a poor player that struts his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” Our 21st century “poor player” is Trump, who urged Vice President Mike Pence to violate his oath of office by declaring that Trump won the election.
Pence politely declined and as he attempted to carry out his constitutional duty to certify Biden’s Electoral College victory, violent right-wing anarchists stormed Congress and shut down the Capitol. Four people died in the rioting hours before our increasingly unstable president issued a mild condemnation of the mob violence and politely asked his most fervent and/or rabid supporters to go home. Carson City was treated to a similar display as flag-waving Trump supporters demonstrated in front of the state Capitol.
Prior to the rioting, Wall Street Journal Editor-at-Large Gerard Baker called Wednesday’s GOP legislative shenanigans on Capitol Hill “an awesome display of dishonesty and opportunism” and “a new low-water mark for political cynicism.” Baker added that GOP protesters were “like the ground crew at a Japanese fighter base, happy to supply the fuel to propel others to their fate.”
Unfortunately, those “others” included Georgia Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, who were defeated by “progressive” Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, respectively, giving Democrats control of both Houses of Congress. Trump, who has only himself to blame, went to Georgia last Monday night to support Loeffler and Perdue, but talked mostly about himself (surprise!), airing his electoral grievances and casting doubt upon the state’s electoral procedures, which are supervised by fellow Republicans.
So Trump is going out the way he came in, wallowing in chaos and self-pity, trying to play the role of victim in an election he should have won. Like your favorite Appeal columnist, many of us liked his policies, but couldn’t stand the bombastic messenger. So what happens to the Republican Party now? Do party loyalists stick with an angry, bitter 74-year-old loser, or do they move on and search for younger leaders like senators Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Marco Rubio of Florida, along with former South Carolina Governor/UN Ambassador Nikki Haley?
Referring to crazy, unsubstantiated conspiracy theories on the Internet, Sen. Sasse, a moderate 48-year-old Republican, said “senators know that the president’s social media rantings are bunk,” adding that no senator “argues the election was actually stolen. … (but) our politics have become so poisonous that some members of Congress now see personal benefit… in actually attempting to overturn a presidential election.” Shame on them.
Trump lost to Biden, one of the weakest presidential candidates of my rather lengthy lifetime, as Republicans picked up 14 seats in the House of Representatives. Look at 78-year-old Biden and listen to him. I seriously doubt whether he’ll serve a full term before mental acuity issues catch up with him. Then we’ll have President Kamala Harris, now our most liberal senator. Help!
Guy W. Farmer is the Appeal’s senior political columnist.