World Enough and Time: Fallout
I wasn’t going to comment on our recent election, but then Jan. 6 happened. Our own epiphany. Thankfully, Marilyn Bradford, Terry Turner and others, quoted in news stories and opinion pieces, have commented reasonably and well on what happened.
Definitions seem important: what the Constitution defines as a fair election process and what to call the invasion of the Capitol. Jennifer Rubin certainly sums up my view, starting with a definition of the latter:
“We are talking about domestic terrorism, which the FBI defines as ‘the unlawful use, or threatened use, of violence by a group or individual based and operating entirely within the United States (or its territories) without foreign direction committed against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.’ Shouldn’t any politician who exhorted them to march to the Capitol (as President Trump did) or supplied the propaganda that motivated them (as numerous Republican lawmakers did) forfeit their office?”
What will be the fallout? Impeachment voted by the Senate, legislation based on Amendment 14, article 3 to prevent Trump from running for office again?
For the inauguration, he plans to retreat to a property in Florida. He and the aides who remain faithful will work to spin the story of his last days.
Those who invaded, especially those equipped with body armor, weapons, pepper spray, and zip ties for hostages, should be dealt with to the full extent of the law. Their aim was to take violent action to carry out what the mob outside wanted—to stop the orderly transfer of power mandated by the Constitution. They are the insurrectionists.
But let’s not make the same mistake Trump’s supporters often have made when they identified all Black Lives Matter protestors with the rioters who tore down barriers and burned buildings. Some, it seems, joined the invasion of the Capitol by impulse; they had no plan and were somewhat surprised to be inside the marble halls.
I am going to assume that most of Trump’s supporters are sickened by the sight of the invaders’ trashing the center of our government, attempting to break into the House and Senate chambers. Some will continue to hold to the completely unsubstantiated claim of massive fraud or the absurd claim that antifa leftists initiated the break-in. (Watch the videos!).
But I refuse to assume what a former chair of the Republican National Committee claims—that a legacy of Trump is millions of brainwashed citizens.
To those that cling to the notion that the election was stolen, I ask: if you do not trust states’ election officials who certified the votes, if you do not trust over 50 judges’ conclusions that Trump lawyers presented no evidence to support allegations of widespread fraud, if you do not trust two administration officials’ conclusion that the election was, on the whole, free and fair, and if you do not agree that Congress should have followed its Constitutional duty in certifying Joseph Biden as the properly elected president, what system of government would you suggest we adopt? Think about it.
Sure, set up a commission to investigate and recommend election practices, as was done after the last presidential election. Georgia officials, in one of their multiple recounts, found exactly two instances of dead people “voting.” In Texas, private investigators pulled over a truck suspected of containing bogus or real ballots, only to find parts needed by its driver, an air conditioner repair man.
Friends, this was one of the most investigated and scrutinized elections in history. Before, during and after, officials and hired investigators were doing their darnedest to find fraudulent voting. All they could produce were unconfirmed affidavits, hazy photographs, and one doctored video. So they turned to challenging legal procedures, such as mail-in ballots or the counting of same.
But go ahead: investigate and recommend. See what you find. Just don’t make it more difficult for folks to vote! In fact, think about passing legislation that regularizes the voting and counting process for federal elections in the states. For instance, why should early ballots, including mail-ins, held and not be counted until election-day voting is over, thus guaranteeing the delays in announcing results?
While you’re at it, why not mandate a neutral and independent body in each state to redistrict after the Census, based on natural neighborhoods? Why should Pott County be used to negate a slice of Democratic voters in Oklahoma City?
Of course, one fallout from this election may well be many more legal challenges and recounts in the future, even on the local level. More work for lawyers. More overtime pay for election workers.
Surely, there will be a pandemic fallout. Most invaders were not masked. Identifying, charging and outing them to their employers may not be all they suffer. I understand some House members, forced to huddle with unmasked colleagues for a time, have come down with COVID-19.
While we don’t want to assume all Trump supporters are white supremacists, anti-Semitic, or neo-Nazi thugs, any viewing of the videos shows how freely the fringe groups mixed with regular protestors. There were signs, flags, shirts, and hand gestures for at least ten different groups, including several associated with the Charlottesville violence. Perhaps the FBI will pay more attention to such groups, particularly those with a paramilitary orientation.
When the governor of Michigan suggests that state legislators consider purchasing body armor, you begin to realize that perhaps the real threat of terrorism comes from within our country.
One possible positive is that the Republican Party has the opportunity to become more than the party of Trump. Perhaps it can recapture its traditional emphases on free trade, international defense alliances, and reduction of the national debt. An unexpected benefit, from the Democratic wins in the Senate, if Biden carries through with his assertion to work across the aisle, may be that the parties are more prone to work together for the national good.
I refuse to be pessimistic. Having lived through nuclear anxiety, the decade of assassinations, Vietnam, Watergate, Murrah, mass shootings and 9/11, I still have faith in America and Americans.
When I went to get my vaccination at FireLake, one of my East Coast relatives asked if I didn’t need a MAGA hat to get in. No, I didn’t, nor did I see any political paraphernalia. Instead, I saw many friendly volunteers whose goal was to make it as easy as possible for us to get vaccinated, so we, as a nation, can finally put a cap on this pandemic.
May God bless them and the true America they represent.
Bill Hagen is a retired OBU professor. He lives in Shawnee with his cat. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.