January 6, 2021: a day that will go down in history as one of the most shameful and infamous in American history. The day the president of the United States urged an armed mob to invade the US Congress and, in effect, overturn the US government. The day the son of the president of the United States urged congressional Republicans to be “heroes” by supporting the president’s insurrection. The day Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s lawyer, urged “trial by combat.” The day that, despite the most seditious acts since the Civil War, six US senators and 121 members of the House later that evening voted against certifying Arizona’s election results.
January 6, 2021: the day the GOP was finally, unavoidably, confronted with the lethal consequences of tolerating a demagogue for four years. The day the cretinous, opportunistic Republican Party was forced to confront the fact that, as JFK once put it, if you seek to ride the tiger, you end up in its belly. If you tolerate a president who calls neo-Nazis “very fine people,” if you tolerate a president who tweets support for militias trying to invade the Michigan state Capitol, if you tolerate a president who calls the free press “enemies of the people,” if you indulge a president who threatens private citizens, if you acquit a president impeached for manifestly criminal actions in trying to strong-arm the Ukrainian government into providing dirt on a domestic political opponent, if you turn a blind eye to a president’s repeatedly demanding that election officials commit fraud by “finding” him a predetermined number of votes… If, in short, you dally with demagogy and mob rule (in both the political and criminal sense of the word “mob”), if you buy into a lethal personality cult, eventually those chickens will come home to roost.
January 6, 2021: As the whole world watched, the US Capitol was invaded at the urging of a president seeking nothing more or less than absolute power. One international leader after the next responded in horror, denouncing this assault on democracy and urging completion of the transition of power to President-elect Joe Biden. This wasn’t just slightly abnormal. It was a black swan event so extraordinary that it rocked the world. American democracy bent to the breaking point this day. And America’s place in the world took a correspondingly devastating hit.
That Trump failed in his treasonous acts speaks less to the courage of the GOP—or, for that matter, law enforcement agencies that, unfathomably, unforgivably, stood by and let the mob run rampant—and more to the sheer ineptitude of this band of traitors. It turns out that this ragtag band of nutters, thugs, goons, conspiracists, fascists, and Confederate nostalgists couldn’t organize a piss-up in a brewery, or, for that matter, a coup in a Capitol.
As thousands of people rampaged through that Capitol, Trump first egged them on, then refused for hours to activate the National Guard, then, begrudgingly, told his mob to “go home” while, at the same time, praising the insurrectionists—telling them he loved them—for defending him and complaining about what he called a “stolen election.”
By day’s end, this pathetic excuse for a coup attempt had failed. More importantly, Trumpism as a political project lay in ruins, and the GOP as a viable governing party lay equally tattered.
Trump remains president, but likely in name only. By late afternoon, he had been blocked from Twitter and Facebook. His secretary of defense had activated the National Guard after consulting with Mike Pence, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, and military leaders—but not with Trump. His cabinet was reportedly considering removing him from office by invoking the 25th Amendment. Close advisers were telling any journalist within earshot that Trump had gone utterly insane. Representative Ilhan Omar was preparing articles of impeachment. A who’s who of current politicians, ex-politicians, and military leaders had accused Trump of instigating a seditionist uprising. And a number of senior Trump advisers and appointees were on the verge of resigning.
That, however, isn’t enough. It’s not enough to isolate Trump, not enough to silence him, not enough to simply ignore him and try to work around him for two weeks. Trump, his son, his lawyer Giuliani—all actively encouraged treason on this day of infamy. They, along with their disgraceful followers, must be prosecuted. Anyone who participated in the invasion of the US Capitol must be chased down by law enforcement. Anyone who egged that mob on must not only be removed from office—and prohibited from ever running for public office again—but must be arrested and charged with sedition.
Trump’s politics and his personality have acted as a cancer on the American body politic for four years now. January 6 was the day that cancer ran so rampant that even figures as morally malleable as Pence and McConnell were forced to take a stand. Now, Trump must be ground to dust. He must not only be removed as president; he must also be entirely destroyed as a public presence.
Rarely has an American public figure so clearly merited exemplary punishment. Trump, in his actions this week, has clearly qualified himself for such punishment. At this point, there is simply no good reason not to remove him from office and immediately prosecute him for his actions. For the sake of this damaged democracy, it is vital that both actions be taken.
Trump has forfeited the public trust. For that reason, he cannot remain the commander in chief. He has shown himself to be mentally unstable, and for that reason he cannot remain in charge of an apocalyptically huge nuclear arsenal. He has demonstrated a clearly criminal approach to the Constitution, and for that reason he cannot be allowed to hold high office for the next two weeks in the run-up to the transition of power. He is, in short, a clear and present danger to the constitutional order, to the country, and to the world. Congress will fail in its duties if, after confirming Biden’s election win, it doesn’t continue on, in quick order, to forcibly remove Donald J. Trump, traitor, from the White House.