January 6, 2021 is a date that will go down in history right along with September 11, 2001. On Jan. 6, the United States came perilously close to abandoning our democracy when a delusional President took his boldest step in a campaign to block his constitutional successor, Joe Biden, from taking office. He once referred to this as a “smooth transition” to his second term, Joe Biden’s impressive victory, certified by Republicans and Democrats in the 50 U.S states notwithstanding! Others would call it an attempted coup d’etat.
Make no mistake about it, the terrorist attack on the U.S. Congress carrying out its constitutional duty to the American people was the culmination of Donald Trump’s campaign, which began Nov. 3, to subvert the Election won by Mr. Biden. He would not concede the election he’d lost as is the custom and as Hilary Clinton did in 2016 after losing by a smaller margin and having whipped him in the popular vote. Instead, he howled fraud, citing examples, none of which were substantiated. He and a band of shameless sycophants pressured election officials in key states to do recounts, which were duly done and redone, on a bipartisan basis and which failed to make any significant difference. Next, he did what he’s done all his life. He sued, and sued some more, in 40+ courts all told, including the Supreme Court (with 3 Trump appointees), only to be tossed out in every case for lack of proof! Then he and accomplices like Rudy Giuliani and Sen. Lindsey Graham took to threatening Republican election officials in Georgia, for example, demanding that they “find” enough votes to change the election result. Damn the luck… he kept running into honest folks doing their jobs for the people.
He then turned to his mass action of Jan. 6 to deter the assembled House and Senate in the Capitol from completing the count of the electoral votes confirming Mr. Biden’s election. He, his sons and far-right henchmen incited his mob of thousands to attack the Capitol and assure his second term. With their bats, clubs, knives, etc, it was clear they had not come for a picnic at the Capitol.
Now, the story gets really scary. How close did they come to succeeding in the coup? Answer: Very close! Mysteriously, security at the Capitol on Jan. 6, despite warnings by the FBI, was minimal—a couple hundred Capitol Police vs. thousands of attacking rioters.
Why was it so hard to get help from the military? A call to DoD for help was forwarded to an office of a general who happened to be the brother of retired, disgraced and pardoned 3-star general Michael Flynn, the same Flynn who just two days before urged Trump to declare martial law to get his way! But, in the final analysis, the military held as an institution. But what if Flynn had gotten the military to side with Trump? Or, what if Republicans had had a majority in the House of Reps? Remember, as it was 130 House Republicans and 8 Senators voted to block millions of votes already certified by the 50 states. The House and 51 Senators could have blocked certification and, as agreed in advance, asked Trump to stay on as President for an unspecified interim period, and even to declare martial law. Who would have stopped them?
I’ve lived and worked in countries where the military in fact does effect coups, removing and replacing elected civilians. I never thought it possible in my country. Now, having seen this near miss 25 miles from my home, I realize it could indeed happen here.
Most disturbing is that it appears likely there will be no consequences or future deterrents for Mr. Trump or any of his accomplices, like 130 Congressmen and women or Senators Cruz, Hawley and Graham. Former President Trump is unlikely to be convicted in his second impeachment trial, will be off to wreak havoc in the 2022 congressional elections and, yes, may run for another term as your President in 2024! Most Republicans seem totally lacking not only moral compasses, but also any regard for their sworn oaths to uphold our Constitution. Remember what Senator Collins (R-Maine) said after voting to acquit Trump in the first impeachment trial? “He’s learned his lesson.” HA!