As I write this, there are five people dead following the riot in the U.S. Capitol, including Capitol Police Officer Brian D. Sicknick. He died fighting off those who months ago were undoubtedly proclaiming that “Blue lives matter!” I would like to think that was enough bloodletting to finally kill Trumpism, but we know that his most deranged supporters have more violent criminal acts planned for the days ahead.
Among those eager for more violence is Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin, who joined with the trespassers and fantasized in an online video about “blood running out of that building.” He explained to Albuquerque Journal reporter Elise Kaplan that his comment shouldn’t be seen as a threat, but rather a warning. “I look at myself more as a Paul Revere,” he said. Does that make the 81 million Americans who voted for Joe Biden all Redcoats? Griffin, who lassoed his 15 minutes of fame as the head of a group called Cowboys for Trump, has also opined that “The only good Democrat is a dead Democrat.”
There were 74 million Americans who voted for Trump, which means that group must include a lot of good, kind people who were, and still are, happy with the tax cuts, deregulation and friendly Supreme Court justices. But that was always a bargain with the devil. As long as American democracy is based on a two-party system, reports of either party’s demise will always be premature. When voters inevitably get frustrated with Democrats who are now in power, they will have only Republicans to turn to.
The Republican Party will survive, but it needs new leadership. Even today, its top officials are still perpetuating the Big Lie - that the election was stolen. When order was restored and the vote taken in the wee hours of the morning, new Rep. Yvette Herrell sided with the rioters. Some are lying to boost fundraising. Some, like Steve Pearce, for political reasons, hoping to get more restrictive voter laws passed in the future. The motive doesn’t really matter at this point. They have convinced millions of Americans that all of their deepest, darkest suspicions are true. Their vote doesn’t count. The system is rigged. And, if you can’t achieve change at the ballot box, there really is only one alternative.
On Jan. 20, Biden will become the leader of a broken country. Thousands are dying every day from a virus that spread out of control while we bickered about facemasks. Millions believe to their bone that the election was stolen. The challenge for Biden will be to reach out to reasonable Trump voters and assure them they will still have a voice in our government. And then follow through with that assurance. Trump voters have an important perspective that needs to be valued.
But not all of them. Those who are fantasizing about blood flowing from the U.S. Capitol don’t get to participate. Not until they get help.
Walter Rubel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Trumpism was an ugly and violent political movement that was always destined to die an ugly and violent death. A mere election loss was never going to be enough to kill the movement, regardless of how decisive that loss may have been. Donald Trump told us before the vote in 2016 that he was bigger than our elections. Of course he wouldn’t agree to abide by the final decision. If he lost, it must be rigged.
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