Republicans’ Deal with the Devil Delivers — with Pro-Trump Mob Rampaging Capitol
If January 6, 2021 — the horrific day when mobs incited by “President” Donald Trump breached and rampaged our nation’s Capitol — is not to be forever remembered in American history as a day of shame and infamy and ultimately Tragedy, then lessons had better be learned, and learned fast.
Chief lesson among many: You cannot enter a pact with an amoral and power-mad leader and expect a good result — as Republicans have rationalized their dealings with Trump for far too long. Faustian bargains — those done with the Devil, to whom you cede your Soul— come to hideous ends. Lest any Republican quibble with the term “Devil,” rewind that tape from yesterday’s horrific events — from Trump’s fiery speech in the White House’s backyard inciting his foot-soldiers to march on the Capitol and “save America” (video here), to those thugs savaging our seat of government — and state for the record that this is all par for politics. No. It. Is. Not.
While Congressional Republicans may have claimed their pact with this Devil was struck for constructive, small-d democratic ends — conservative court appointments, abortion repeal teed up, rollback of regulations, tax cuts, among other objectives — they have now been undone, devoured, by this Devil’s own overarching anti-democratic objective: to stay in power no matter what — despite losing both the popular and electoral vote in the Nov. 3 election, despite claiming a fraudulent vote-count, despite trashing American Democracy.
Certainly Trump’s absurd claim of a fraudulent vote-count that “stole” his re-election, which claim he’s pursued with dozens of lawsuits, all thrown out (some by Trump’s own Court appointees), should have, given their absurdity, given Congressional Republicans pause. But, no: Too many double-lashed themselves to the mast of Trump’s sinking ship and announced they’d defy the ritual electoral count Jan. 6 by both houses of the winners — President-elect Joe Biden and Vice-president-elect Kamala Harris. Too many, along with Trump’s mob, bought his “Stop the Steal” argument.
Stop the steal, indeed. Perhaps now — with yesterday’s horrific reality of mobs ransacking the Capitol — the stealing of American Democracy (and Orwellian double-speak) will stop.
Yet Republicans’ own anti-democratic bent — yes: anti-democratic — precedes their pact with Trump. Ever since the tenure in the 1980s of President Ronald Reagan, who intoned (in)famously, “Government is not the solution….; government is the problem,” Republican anti-government rhetoric has become ever harsher, ever more virulent and mean, unto the point of blindness. And unto genetic alteration: Succeeding generations of Republican politicians, and grass-roots party members, are now so deeply stamped with the anti-government DNA, that, as we saw yesterday, their foot-soldiers can storm the hated bastion of government, the Capitol, and, with manic ferocity, lay waste to all they saw. Because: Uncontrolled and constantly stoked, anti-government bleeds so easily into anti-democracy. (If those thugs yesterday had democracy in mind, I’ll eat my voter-registration card.) Conservatives stopped conserving the good things long ago.
It was good to see the various Congressional Republicans come around in their floor speeches, prior to voting to confirm the Biden-Harris ticket. Visibly shaken from the mobbing, some conceded graciously (Senate majority-now-minority-leader Mitch McConnell) and some glibly (Lindsey Graham). (Graham at least said, “I, maybe more than anyone in this body, needs to say this,” before acknowledging Biden-Harris.) Sen. Mitt Romney, already breaking with his party in his vote to impeach Trump last year, now emphasized “conscience” over “acclaim.” But senators Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley still clung to Trump’s sinking ship. As their mad captain used to say, “Sad.” A similar pageant of catharsis played out in the House.
This Democrat looked on all of it with sadness, no schadenfreude — no joy at another’s misfortune. I could only think: They, the Republicans, made a pact with the Devil and now, today, the payment came due. And, please, I thought, let any remaining fealty to this Devil melt away.
Today, though, the blame game begins. I turn on the T.V. and see the mayor of Washington, D.C. on the hotseat, explaining the “failure” of law enforcement to deter the mobs. But: It was not law enforcement who desecrated the Capitol and American Democracy yesterday. Again, we must learn the right lessons from this latest dark day. No: This desecration is on Trump and his thugs and, yes, on the Republicans. It is not on law enforcement (which, as I write, is being beefed up considerably for the duration, until Inauguration Day 13 days hence). Trump remains uncontrite, while the Republicans — well, maybe conscience and this break in their collective fever-dream will guide them into the clearing.
Let us hope so. We need an opposition party, but we need a loyal opposition, a party truly dedicated to American Democracy, which Republicans in their fealty to the proto-autocratic Trump were not. And who knows what Trump, ever more desperate to cling to power, has in store as the clock ticks down on his tenure? Best if Democrats and Republicans man the ramparts together. On this point, President-elect Biden in a short speech addressing the “insurrection” at the Capitol, quoted Abraham Lincoln on perserving America as union: “We shall nobly save or meanly lose the last best hope on earth.”
And lest any Republican gets piqued that it’s only they who must learn a lesson and take their medicine, we Democrats must refrain from exulting at the opposition’s reckoning, remain sober, and acknowledge that both parties have, over the years, abused our precious gift of freedom. We liberals too often say or do the irresponsible or outrageous thing, claiming it’s all free speech: No it is not. And liberals hate any talk of the Devil, as “too moral”: Yet our final argument against Trump is that he is….amoral.
And this note: Our African-American fellow citizens cannot help noticing that the mob assaulting the Capitol yesterday, almost all of whom were white and manifesting violent intent, were not treated by law enforcement as dangerous nor were many arrested, unlike Black Lives Matter protesters who marched peacefully following George Floyd’s killing last summer.
There are many lessons to be learned from this season of our suffering — from Trump’s assault on American Democracy, taking America to the brink of losing our way of life; from the coronavirus pandemic, assaulting Life itself and taking away those we love. The lesson made manifest yesterday — mobs mobbing the Capitol, doing the Devil Trump’s work — is clear: Quit this Devil. Will we?
[At posting, talk of Trump’s “removal” — by invoking the 25th Amendment by the cabinet, by another impeachment by the Congress — is only preliminary.]