Robert A. Levine
January 6th in Washington was shocking but not surprising. For months, President Trump had been stoking his supporters with claims that the presidential election in November was rigged and victory stolen from him. He provided no evidence to back up his claim, but repeating it over and over again in his speeches and tweets provided his assertion with credibility, particularly with his avid adherents. There was no question that millions of his supporters believed his declaration was real and that the election and the presidency had been stolen. In addition, there was affirmation from right-wing commentators and websites. Trump abandoned the tasks of his presidency for months while he tried to overturn the results of the election. The Covid pandemic was completely ignored by Trump while Americans died by the hundreds of thousands.
To the majority of Americans and the mainstream media it was clear that Biden had won the election handily- by over 7 million popular votes and the Electoral College 306 to 232. Yet a delusional and deranged President Trump continued to insist that he won the election by a landslide. In the two months after election Trump and his legal team lost over sixty lawsuits in various Courts contesting different facets of the election, including unanimously twice in the Supreme Court where he had appointed three of the justices. The Courts found nothing to suggest that anything illegal had occurred regarding the voting and that Biden had indeed won the election. Trump also tried to get Republican state Secretaries of State to “to find votes for him” so that he would win these states. No dice. And he blasted Georgia’s Republican Secretary of State Raffensperger and Governor Kemp as stupid and corrupt because they would not help him.
Trump also went to several GOP controlled state legislatures to try and convince them to change the vote totals in their states, but was rebuffed in each case. He claimed as well that the voting machines had been illegally set to help Biden, but this path led nowhere. Thus he reached a point where his efforts appeared futile. His last chance was Congress. But VP Pence said there was nothing he could do when he directed the voting for Biden’s confirmation, as his role was purely ceremonial. A majority of GOP House members and as many as twelve Senators said that they would object to swing state voting totals, agreeing with Trump that he had won. It appeared that Trump and these Republican officials were living in an alternative reality, as it was clear to the press and to state officials, both Republican and Democratic, that Biden had won the election by a landslide.
But it was too late to change the minds of Trump’s radical base who had already been convinced that the election was stolen by Biden. The nadir of Trump’s presidency and the outcome of his alliance with white supremacy groups and conspiracy theorists occurred on January 6th 2021 when legions of Trump supporters at his urging stormed and took over the nation’s capital. Speaking to the tens of thousands of his cult who had gathered in Washington, some armed, others not, Trump, Don Jr and Rudy Guilliani exhorted the gathering to march to the Capitol and be strong. On social media during the previous week, plans were being hatched by right-wing nationalists and white supremacists to take over the Capitol, so it was no secret what was coming. But law enforcement, particularly the Capitol police were totally unprepared, with a mob of white nationalist insurrectionists invading the Capitol and gaining control of the building, looting and destroying property and various personal materials of members of Congress.
Intelligence agencies and law enforcement should not have been taken by surprise by the hordes of white supremacists, given their announcements on social media. There had been talk of assassinating various officials including Vice-President Pence and of keeping Trump in the presidency. Many of these groups wanted to start a civil war in the country and felt that their actions might light the fuse. Interestingly, the insurrectionists initially were treated with kid gloves by the police, unlike the Black Lives Matter protesters months before. Though Trump and various Republican officials tried to distance themselves from the violent behavior afterwards, it was too little and too late.
White supremacists and militia groups who believe themselves entitled to run the nation are a continuing danger to democracy in the United States, with their positions supported by a percentage of law-enforcement and the military. Whether anything will change after their assault on the Capitol remains to be seen. Trump will continue to be a menace to American democracy even after he leaves the presidency, unless he is charged with insurrection and other counts and goes to prison.
The Uninformed Voter- buy on Amazon or Barnes and Noble