AMERICA: WHAT DO WE DO NOW?

Image: Pixabay.com

When I turned on my phone this morning, there was a message from my friend in Georgia:

“Annie…We WON…Wow…Thanks for your efforts.”

He was referring to the hundreds of post cards my husband and I had written over the past few months encouraging Georgians to vote. (I hadn’t until then thought that we might have played a teensy role in that huge victory.)

Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock will become Georgia’s Senators. And the Democrats will have a majority in the Senate, providing President Biden with the flexibility he needs to govern without being stifled by Mitch McConnell et al.

We were among many, many thousands, part of a nationwide citizen army who also made phone calls and donated what they could to make the ground game possible.

In Georgia, there were organizations dedicated to reaching young Americans, Latino Americans, Asian Americans, and especially Black Americans. They knocked on a million doors, one reported.

Of course the greatest tribute goes to Stacey Abrams and her colleagues for their years-long effort to give her state elected officials who would work for the people of Georgia, an increasingly diverse swath of America.

But to their credit, the Democratic candidates ran on a largely positive message of health care, jobs, and justice, while the Republicans just screamed “Socialists! End of America!”

So I feel the “arc of history” moved substantially toward justice last night. How I wish the great John Lewis were alive to see this solid achievement toward a more equitable and inclusive America!

That Brings Me to Today’s Topic.

I thought I was done with Trump. I hoped never to write about the man again. But what he and his supporters are threatening to do to our democracy today is beyond the beyond.

How do we respond? And, my thoughtful readers from other countries whose lives are intertwined with ours, I welcome your perspectives too. We clearly need all the help we can get.

ITEM: Trump finally reaches Georgia Republican Secretary of State Raffensperger by phone after 18 previous attempts. (Raffensperger has said he thought the calls were inappropriate and did not want to talk with the President.)

In a recorded call, Trump nags, cajoles, pleads, and threatens criminal charges, spouting one disproven conspiracy theory after another.

Raffensperger and his counsel refute Trump’s claims, repeatedly.

Subsequently, another Georgia Republican, elections official Gabriel Sterling, also refutes Trump’s claims—one after the other.

He’s done this so many times before that, as he said in a news conference, the president’s charges had been

“thoroughly debunked…I wanted to scream…I personally found it to be something that was not normal, out of place, and nobody I know who would be president would do something like that to a secretary of state.”

It’s worth pointing out that both he and Raffensperger and family have received death threats for doing their jobs.

It’s also worth pointing out that Trump charged voter fraud before the 2016 election and before this one: if he didn’t win, he claimed, it would clearly mean there had been massive fraud.

ITEM: Today, January 6, Senator Josh Hawley will lead 12 other Republican Senators in an attempt to derail the perfunctory counting of the votes, the final official act prior to the swearing in of President-elect Joe Biden on January 20th.

They will be joined by more than 140 members of the House. All recognize that this is an empty gesture, destined to fail, but apparently are more concerned about appeasing Trump’s ego-and-base than about upholding their Constitutional oaths.

ITEM: Senator Ben Sasse, who has strongly spoken out against this move, reports that all his colleagues have privately acknowledged that Biden was fairly elected, but they fear loss of power—“how it will look” to the members of what is now the Republican base if they don’t join the charade.

ITEM: Pulitzer prize winning economist Paul Krugman explains well in a New York Times editorial how we reached this weird state:

“The past two months have…been an object lesson in the extent to which ‘grass roots’ anger is actually being orchestrated from the top. If a large part of the Republican base believes, groundlessly, that the election was stolen, it’s because that’s what leading figures in the party have been saying. (Emphases mine.)

“Now politicians are citing widespread skepticism about the election results as a reason to reject the outcome—but they themselves conjured that skepticism out of thin air.”

Watch how the Biden administration, soon after taking office and facing immense challenges—many due to Trump’s willful failures—will be peppered by “urgent” investigations of widespread voter fraud—purportedly because it’s important to reassure the public to which Trump and they have lied.

ITEM: Thus Republicans, always states’ rights advocates and devotees of the Electoral College, are hypocritically racing to undermine both concepts. And rending the fabric of our democracy in the process.

Indeed, Charles Koch, far right megafunder, has expressed his concern that this losing campaign will undermine the Electoral College as the method of choosing the President. (Wouldn’t that be ironic?)

So how do we respond to what is clearly an attempted coup—though we know it will fail?

Some have advocated once again impeaching the President. Though it would be good to have the history books cite him as the only President—ever—to have been twice impeached, is that move feasible, and is there time?

Ironically, the President’s behavior on this call is much like that of the call to Ukrainian President Zelenskyy, which earned him that ignominious impeachment.

Members of Congress Ted Lieu and Kathleen Rice have asked FBI director Chris Wray to investigate this call, stating that Trump “engaged in solicitation of, or conspiracy to commit, a number of election crimes.”

I hope if Wray decides to do that, he keeps mum about it. Otherwise, he may well be out of a job.

And those Senators and Representatives who plan to abet the coup? They have just been sworn in to office in an election that they maintain has been marred by widespread fraud.

By what right should they be in office? If they’re in states in which Trump has specifically declared fraud, are they not negating either the will of their electorate or the validity of their own elections?

At the very least, I would like to see each of them be asked to swear under oath that they did, in fact, believe that they were opposing a “stolen” election. I’m betting they won’t.

We need them to state clearly to their constituents that this election was, indeed, fair—and that on January 20th, Joe Biden will legitimately become our President, and Kamala Harris will legitimately be our Vice President.

Once the two new Georgia Senators are sworn in, we will have greater leverage in making urgent changes. One of the first must be passage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Act—because it’s no mere coincidence that nearly all the areas Trump has questioned have had large percentages of minority voters.

And despite Raffensperger’s bravery in standing up to Trump, he also oversaw reduced voting sites, reduced numbers of drop-off boxes, and other acts of voter suppression.

Make No Mistake About It.

Throughout the country, voter suppression tactics and laws specifically designed to inhibit the votes of America’s growing minority-majority will increase in the wake of Georgia’s shining accomplishment.

It should not be lost in our efforts to save our democracy that these Republican shenanigans have been directed against the governing coalition that the Democrats are assembling, with Black Americans in the forefront, and other minorities important constituencies.

Going forward, unless there’s a huge shakeup in the Republican Party as a result of this travesty, I believe we have to assume that only one of our two major parties is now legitimate.

As Krugman writes:

“The modern GOP…isn’t like anything we’ve seen before, at least in American history. If there’s anyone who wasn’t already persuaded that one of our two major political parties has become an enemy, not just of democracy, but of truth, events since the election should have ended their doubts.”

The Times columnist Michelle Goldberg runs through all the “excuses for not investigating Trump” and states that they “make at least some sense.” Still, she writes “…if there is no penalty for Republican cheating, there will be more of it.”

Goldberg reminds us that when the Republicans refused to impeach the President, they

“insisted that if Americans didn’t like his behavior, they could vote him out. Americans did, and now Trump’s party is refusing to accept it.”

Her conclusion:

“…You can’t rely on elections to punish attempts to subvert elections. Only the law can do that, even if it’s inconvenient.”

How do we balance President-Elect Biden’s desire to look forward and reach across the aisle—and our desire not to appear like a banana republic that says, Trump-style, “Lock him up!”—with the urgent need to demonstrate effectively that what Trump and his Congressional backers are doing cannot go unchallenged?

The small-d democrats must be active on the state level as well. As Jamelle Bouie points out,

“It’s a story of escalation, from the relentless obstruction of the Gingrich era to the effort to impeach Bill Clinton to the attempt to nullify the presidency of Barack Obama and on to the struggle, however doomed, to keep Joe Biden from ever sitting in the White House as president.

“It also goes beyond national politics. In 2016, after a Democrat, Roy Cooper, defeated the Republican incumbent Pat McCrory for the governorship of North Carolina, the state’s Republican legislature promptly stripped the office of power and authority. Wisconsin Republicans did the same in 2018 after Tony Evers unseated Scott Walker in his bid for a third term.

“And Michigan Republicans took similar steps against another Democrat, Gretchen Whitmer, after her successful race for the governor’s mansion.”

If you were in charge, what do you think is the best way for Americans to proceed in demanding accountability in this dangerous time? And I hope if you let me know, you’ll connect with your elected officials and express your views to them as well.

Annie

UPDATE: Shortly after I posted this piece, the unbelievable-if-it-hadn’t-been-Trump insurrection began in “the People’s House.” I hadn’t heard that Trump had made a speech urging his thousands of rallying supporters to go to the Capitol.

Once again the historian commenters will shake their heads sadly and say, “No; there are no precedents.”

As terrorists broke into the building, roamed the halls wreaking damage, frightened Representatives, and temporarily halted the counting of the Electoral College results, the President was silent. At least one person was shot.

President-elect Biden stepped up and called upon Trump to tell his people to go home. Trump eventually was shamed into appearing. But due to maliciousness and/or derangement, he repeated his falsehoods about the “stolen” election and told the terrorists he loves them but they should go home.

And so, in his final days in office, this man has proven the depths of depravity of which he is capable are even lower than one can imagine. How much more damage can he do before January 20th? Some action must be taken against him immediately.

And when the Electoral count resumes, will those fellow Republicans go through with their seditious acts? If so, are they not now willing accessories to inciting further events like today’s?

There were some frightening signs and statements from some of Trump’s diehard fans. The right-wing “militia” (read terrorists) will be back.

We must hope they’re met by law enforcement far better prepared than those in place today. Investigations into this despicable event are essential.

30 thoughts on “AMERICA: WHAT DO WE DO NOW?

    1. I made this comment before the events of this afternoon….now I am beyond horrified. The Republicans must now take a stand or be forever linked to this despicable action by a group of thugs. If they continue to defend the monster they helped create and his crazy rhetoric then God help the USA.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I don’t see that happening either. I see facebook and twitter have blocked him so he can’t incite any more violence, so that’s a relief at least. Strange and scary times…

        Like

    1. Kim: I added an update. We no longer have to worry about looking like a banana republic by holding him accountable. Today, commentators said what they were seeing looked like Iraq. I wish he could be removed tomorrow.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. This is shocking. I am watching the CNC coverage of the ongoing situation in Washington.
    I don’t even know what to say, other than to hope that this extreme behaviour (which we feared may be the worst outcome of the messages we have heard from Trump for the last 4 years) is being exhibited by a very tiny portion of the population. The vast majority of American citizens (even republicans) must be appalled by this, and I can only hope that the members of the Republican Party who turned a blind eye to Trump’s rhetoric over the last 4 years will pause and reflect on the results of their ongoing inaction in the face of his blatant lies.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Janine: I sure hope this will show the Republicans who have stayed with Trump through all these continually worsening descents will distance themselves now. It will be interesting to see what those who falsely claim the election was a fraud will do with the Electoral College count now.

      I added an update to my post because I put it up before the insurrection had begun.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. How is it possible that a dangerously unfit and clearly unwell man can be allowed to remain in that office. I’m both sad and infuriated by what we witnessed today.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Even knowing how it all came about, it’s still hard to fathom how he’s gotten away with so much for so long.

      The question is whether he can be removed before he does something even more damaging—and whether this will cause a reexamination among Republicans. The fact that the Senators opposing the Electoral count dropped from 14 to 6 is a slender glimmer of hope—I hope.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I think this post is all the stronger for the fact that most of it was written before the mob attack on Congress. We shouldn’t let the shock of that event obscure the fact that what was going on before was already outrageous and intolerable.

    unless there’s a huge shakeup in the Republican Party as a result of this travesty, I believe we have to assume that only one of our two major parties is now legitimate

    It would take a very major shake-up indeed to ever again make the Republicans a legitimate party. They’ve mostly collaborated with a flagrantly false narrative of vote fraud in an effort to undermine the election result and democracy itself. It doesn’t matter whether they did it because they fear Trump and his supporters, or because they genuinely no longer value democracy — what matters is the effects of their actions, not the motives. To ever be considered a normal political party again, they must — at the very least — totally repudiate Trump and his cult and all those politicians who even by their silence went along with his efforts to de-legitimize the election. It’s hard to imagine them doing that when the Trump cult makes up a sizeable majority of their voting base. But until they do, I won’t be shy about using the F-word — fascist — because that’s what we’re actually dealing with here.

    what do you think is the best way for Americans to proceed in demanding accountability in this dangerous time? And I hope if you let me know, you’ll connect with your elected officials and express your views to them as well

    First and most obvious, vote for every Democrat, every time, in every election. They are the only effective opposition to the Republicans and this is the only way to keep Republicans out of positions of power where they can do more damage. That applies even if the candidate on offer isn’t your favorite flavor of Democrat. I prefer figures like Biden or Obama and find the more radical elements exasperating, but if someone like Sanders or Ocasio-Cortez were the Democrat on the ballot where I live, I’d vote for them without hesitation. Because the alternative is letting power slip by default into the hands of de facto fascists.

    Second, we need to encourage our Democratic elected officials to be assertive and courageous in re-strengthening democracy. Get rid of the filibuster. Pass federal legislation to end gerrymandering and vote suppression at the state level. Enlarge the stolen Supreme Court or otherwise neuter its power to obstruct progress and entrench minority rule. And, yes, Trump and his gang must be prosecuted for their crimes after he leaves office. Any effort by Democratic leaders to stop this would merely be another example of the powerful exempting each other from the laws the rest of us have to follow. And it would signal to future Trump types that they have nothing to lose for committing similar or worse abuses.

    Let the Republicans scream and rage. They will scream and rage whatever we do. Tell your senators and congressmen not to worry about traditions of comity and good will with the other side. McConnell has already trashed all that beyond any possibility of redemption. Tell them instead to worry about pleasing the people who elected them, who want results, not excuses. If a few Republicans are willing to support the agenda, good, but we must not compromise the agenda to appease those who have shown themselves to be enemies of democracy when it mattered.

    As to the attack on Congress (yes, this was an attack on the core of the republic, not on “a building” as some have been saying)…..

    At least one person was shot

    And a lot more people should have been. The rioting and mob violence in our cities, and I’m including both the Antifa types and the right-wing militia types in that, long ago passed the point where the authorities should have escalated to large-scale use of deadly force to restore order. If you show the mobs that they can smash things and threaten people and beat people up and face no real consequences, you will inevitably get more and more of that kind of behavior. And we will, until we actually do something about it. Treating people with kid gloves in a situation like yesterday’s is madness.

    The fact that the Senators opposing the Electoral count dropped from 14 to 6 is a slender glimmer of hope—I hope

    Yes, they’ve had a serious scare thrown into them, and a graphic demonstration of the principle that monsters tend to turn on their creators. McConnell and Pence surely know that if that mob had gotten its hands on them, they would likely be dead now (Trump cultists loathe “traitor” Republicans who aren’t loyal enough to Trump even more than they loathe Democrats). Maybe they’ve finally realized they need to stop feeding lies and rage to the knuckle-dragging Deliverance mutants in the hinterlands, because rage fueled by lies inevitably gets out of control and goes in unpredictable directions. We’ll see.

    I don’t see any point in impeaching Trump again or trying to use the 25th Amendment to remove him. Those things take time and he’ll be out in less than two weeks anyway. Once he’s out, prosecute him for his financial and other crimes just like any other criminal, and for sedition if it can be made to stick.

    Like

    1. Infidel: I agree with all of the above except one statement: “…and a lot more of them should have been [shot].” And I do understand that you’ve been physically closer to chaos than I.

      I am appalled and perplexed by the Capitol police’s “lack of preparedness”—and I expect we’ll find out why the anarchists so easily gained access to the Capitol. When you compare this reaction to the BLM protests, the difference is jaw-dropping. I’m not talking about the treatment of looters at BLM; I’m talking about peaceful protesters who were harmed. Why? Perhaps bc these terrorists look like the police—and some were even sympathetic to them. There are videos that seem to show breaches by the Capitol police letting the looters through the barricades.

      Even assuming the police were doing their jobs appropriately and weren’t overwhelmed, I think the thugs should have been subdued by force and arrested—and many will be. But I think these anarchist groups want a civil war— and shooting some of them will further their goal. It will escalate the right wing’s actions, while also increasing the likelihood that there will be fatalities of subsequent demonstrators who are decent citizens, most likely Black, exercising their First Amendment rights. The latter could either be caught in crossfire or hurt or killed by overzealous “officers of the law.”

      Right now, I hope the FBI and other investigators are doing their best to crack down on right wing extremists advocating violence or acting out nationwide—and I hope there’s great care in ensuring that Washington’s gun laws are rigidly enforced—and that responsible parties are preparing carefully for the inauguration.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Firstly, well done in playing your part in reminding people to vote Annie! My wife and I watched the live footage yesterday – absolutely astonishing scenes. What struck me was a) there seems to have been a huge intelligence gap here. This event was not only long-planned, it was advertised as being anarchic by the president himself. As far as I could tell people had come from far and wide and the numbers and intent should not have been a mystery. I’m always wary of making judgements about law enforcement situations without being there myself as these are often misrepresented, but at the most basic level there were not enough resources there to keep people safe. b) what an epistemological splintering we are currently experiencing in our society; that so many people truly believe that there has been a miscarriage of justice despite no evidence being presented is just staggering. There are at least two polarised perceptions of reality is not conducive to progress. A quick trawl through Twitter this morning suggested that these perceptions are entrenches and mutually exclusive. I’m not sure how one would go about reconciling them, but that must surely come high on Biden’s agenda.

    Like

    1. Matthew: I appreciate your hesitance in offering assessments from this distance. There will be investigations promptly, and I expect there will be changes in personnel and procedures. But something is very wrong when one compares the gentle treatment these terrorists received from the police when compared with the authorities’ responses to Black Lives Matter demonstrations. Note: the Capitol Hill police chief—distinct from the Washington, DC, police—just resigned. No surprise.

      The “alternate realities” is a huge problem—worsened by the more blatant white supremacy. Poor Joe Biden! But fortunately, our gaining control of the Senate offers hope.

      To what extent is the alternate realities” issue prominent in the UK?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The contrast was particularly compelling when it was referenced that no BLM protesters broke through police cordons in contrast to the incident at the Capitol building. I think the Brexit referendum has polarised the UK, whilst the upcoming constitutional debate about Scottish independence will do nothing to draw people together. I don’t think we have had the singularity that you have had in the US election, but it appears to me to be a similar feverish atmosphere.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. The post was excellent before all this, and now it’s even more potent. 25th Amendment for this louse, for sure. but how about all the aiders and abettors for the past four years — the silent Republicans who have refused to call this what it is: a totally deranged man, a threat to our very core. The white privilege observations are spot-on, as well. I feel for our new administration. A very large job awaits.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree, Denise. I think those who aided and abetted should be tried and, if convicted, sent to prison. At the very least, they should be ousted from their offices.

      Thank goodness we won the Senate! Biden’s facing a slew of impossible tasks, but at least now he can have the support of the Cabinet members he’s chosen.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Trump likes to think of himself at number 1. When it comes to horrific American leaders, that’s certainly the case. He has edged out Richard Nixon, James Buchanan, Benedict Arnold, and Jefferson Davis, among others. It is beyond distressing that Trump still has so many people in his corner that he was able to incite an insurrection. In the years to come, the Trump presidency will likely be a major topic in American history classes, during which (hopefully) teachers will stress the fact that Trump did much to denigrate the office of the presidency and the USA’s standing in the world.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Let’s hope that we have a string of decent governing—so that the trump years are viewed as an aberration, rather than a permanent stain. In the meantime, my heart goes out to Joe and Kamala, but they are building a very strong team to assist them.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s