Memo 02.02.2022 12 minutes

Why They Can’t Make Trump Go Away

President Donald Trump Holds Rally In Montoursville, Pennsylvania

Post-mortem of a failed hit.

In the election of 2016, Donald Trump appealed to citizenship, sovereignty, and borders. This was a direct entreaty to the people as the ultimate source of sovereign authority, bypassing the ruling-class elites that dominate the media and the universities; his appeal also ignored political experts, pollsters, and government bureaucracy. In the postmodern world, the nation-state is under attack everywhere as the source of all evil, the cause of war, selfishness, racism, white privilege, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, Islamophobia, and all the other so-called irrational phobias that make up the universe of political correctness. The idea of the nation-state itself is said to be irrational and arbitrary. 

All of this overwrought criticism of nationalism and the nation-state overlooks a very significant point developed in my new book, The United States in Crisis: Citizenship, Immigration, and the Nation State: the nation-state is the only form of political organization that can sustain constitutional government and the rule of law. No empire has ever been a constitutional democracy or republic, nor will constitutional government exist in global government. If, as is widely alleged, the dialectic of History is inevitably tending toward global governance and universal citizenship, then it is also tending toward tyranny. The universal homogeneous state will not be a constitutional government based on the consent of the governed; it will be an administrative tyranny based on the rule of scientific experts. Science, not the consent of the governed, will be the basis for rule. There will be no citizens in this universal state; there will only be clients of the administrative state. We see clearly a presage of the future of the world in today’s United States, where administration has replaced politics and the Constitution. 

In that sense, Trump’s victory in 2016 was a defeat of the Washington Establishment, including the leadership of both the Democrats and Republicans. His unexpected victory did not go unchallenged. The legitimacy of his election was questioned before inauguration day and talk of impeachment began almost immediately. The Washington Establishment doesn’t take defeat lightly. 

Both Republicans and Democrats had a large stake in defending their entrenched privileges. The shared interest in maintaining those privileges for the most part transcended party differences. The Russia election collusion conspiracy began almost immediately and was given life by the appointment of a Special Counsel. After a lengthy and costly—not to say highly partisan—investigation, the conspiracy was revealed to be a mere hoax manufactured in a frantic defense of the old order. What was most shocking about the allegations of Russian interference in the election of 2016, still vociferously maintained by Hillary Clinton and her co-conspirators in the Congress and the media, was the extent to which the intelligence agencies and the FBI were involved in actively abetting the conspiracy. President Trump was, however grudgingly, cleared by the investigation, though denialists and dead-enders in both parties maintain his guilt.

The First Impeachment of President Trump

An otherwise unremarkable phone call that President Trump made to Volodymyr Zelensky, newly-elected President of Ukraine, on July 25, 2019, mischaracterized and sensationalized by a national security officer, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, himself a naturalized American citizen born in Ukraine when it was still part of the Soviet Union, was the event that finally led to the thinnest pretext for impeachment. The House voted a bill of impeachment on December 18, 2019, charging the president with “Abuse of Power” and “Obstruction of Congress” resulting from the phone call. President Zelensky himself reported that Trump made no demands or attempts to exert improper influence on him. Trump had asked him to cooperate in an investigation that was being conducted independently by the Justice Department which, by all accounts, was a proper request. After all, it was well known from a video that was widely circulating that Vice-President Biden, while still in office, had bragged about asserting his influence to have a prosecutor fired in Ukraine who was coming uncomfortably close to his son Hunter’s financial dealings in the country. 

Revelations about the call originated with an anonymous “whistleblower” who possessed only hearsay evidence, almost certainly from Vindman himself. The Establishment members of the State Department and security agencies, of course, could only allege that President Trump had deviated from the ordinary “norms” or established ways of conducting foreign policy. They were anxious to defend their entrenched bureaucratic prerogatives from an innovator who had a different vision of how to represent America’s interests abroad. Trump’s view was “America First,” decidedly not the view of the Washington foreign policy establishment. Perhaps impeachment would signal to the international community that the old world of multilateralism was still alive in the Washington Establishment, and that “America First” was just a passing fancy, supported by the American people perhaps, but rejected by the foreign policy elites. Impeachment might serve to chastise the president and show that members of the deep state—even those appointed by the president—were willing to defy his leadership by invoking their elite policy experience. A Senate conviction, however unlikely given the requirement of a two-thirds vote, would be a show of strength.

The ensuing Senate impeachment trial presented high comedy on the part of the Democrats. They were unable to present any evidence of an impeachable offense. There was no evidence presented of any abuse of power beyond the president’s legitimate assertion of himself as the chief foreign policy officer of the United States. The members of the deep state foreign policy and security establishment simply resisted the president’s attempt to occupy his proper constitutional role. To the deep state this was indeed an “abuse” of presidential power. The House managers’ presentation of their case against the president was a comedy worthy of Aristophanes: the representatives of the Washington Establishment claimed they were acting to protect democracy against a president who was challenging the hegemony of the Washington oligarchy. The Senate trial was, perhaps more precisely, a farce masquerading as comedy. 

 “Territorial Integrity” for Ukraine, Open Borders for the U.S.

Anxious to eliminate any vestiges of Trump’s foreign policy, President Biden moved quickly to cancel “America First.” Biden has meekly restored the multilateralism demand by the foreign policy elites who opposed Trump. The multilateral alliance has warned Putin that any advances on the territorial integrity of Ukraine will trigger severe consequences: economic sanctions, international condemnations, but probably not the promised membership in NATO that Ukraine desires and that Russia opposes. The Biden Administration blusters that “all options are on the table” and several foreign policy pundits predict this may actually lead to war. This seems unlikely, but in the light of the hysteria that seems to drive the administration and the war-like posturing of many elements of both the Democratic and Republican parties, a misunderstanding or an accident could be the spark that leads to a conflagration.

But the real conundrum is the fact that the Biden Administration is willing to defend the territorial integrity of Ukraine while deliberately destroying the integrity of the border of the United States for political purposes. The Trump administration had effectively secured the southern border and had made significant progress in solving the illegal immigration problem. Open borders, however, became the priority of the Biden Administration. The president issued open invitations to foreigners and soon his intentions were revealed to be perhaps the most cynical and politically destructive ever adopted in American history. It was to encourage and subsidize massive illegal immigration and use government resources to settle them in politically strategic districts that would benefit the Democratic Party in future elections. Many reports have surfaced about late-night flights moving newly-arrived illegal immigrants to swing-districts for resettlement. They arrive without advanced notice to local or state authorities, who are expected to accommodate them. These illegal immigrants will no doubt be expected to express their gratitude to the Democratic Party for the extraordinary efforts it made, however illegal it may have been, to accommodate these future voters. Efforts are already underway to make it legal for aliens—legal and illegal—to vote. And, it must be noted, there are no constitutional barriers for states to make aliens eligible to vote, and voters in the states eligible to vote for members of the most numerous branch of the legislature of the state are eligible to vote for members of congress. All of the pieces of the puzzle are falling into place. It is only a question of whether the Biden Administration will last long enough to assemble all the pieces. It is no mystery what the finished puzzle will look like. 

Meanwhile, the president and his minions in the CDC seem unconcerned by the fact that the hordes permitted to stream illegally through the open border are unvaccinated and untested for COVID. The COVID mandates seem to be ignored when it is politically advantageous to do so. But when a rigid enforcement of COVID mandates is politically advantageous, as in the case of mandatory vaccines and testing, then they are rigidly enforced. Thus, COVID is not so much a health issue as it is a political issue. When it involves illegal immigrants intended to become future voters in the Democratic Party, enforcement is lax or nonexistent; but for American citizens enforcement is draconian and bureaucratically heavy-handed and arbitrary—i.e., typical of the administrative state. 

How America Became an Oligarchy

What was revealed in these events was the extent to which American democracy had in fact transmogrified into oligarchy. An alliance of corporate elites and the Washington Establishment had been developing since World War II. Washington has long been in the business of “picking winners and losers” in the corporate world and success has been increasingly dependent upon government access and government largess. In recent years, the most important alliances have been between government and Big Tech. The wealthy elites in the corporate world and the world of Big Tech have formed an open alliance with the Washington Establishment to complete the transformation of American democracy. This is a deadly combination—and it is easy to recognize for anyone who is willing to look.

The American regime still retains the form of a republic, but its substance has been transformed into an oligarchy, the rule of the few for the benefit of the few. Politicians of both parties, but most strikingly Republicans, have found it easy to ignore or evade promises made to constituents. It is necessary for politicians in an oligarchy masquerading as a democracy to speak the language of the people and express interest in their concerns, whether they consider those concerns real or imagined; but in a representative democracy where the news cycle is short and panders to the sensational, it is easy for politicians to “talk the talk,” but delay or obfuscate the “walk,” counting on the people’s short attention span. The Tea Party movement, for example, raised populist concerns that could not be easily ignored, but the movement was easily quelled by extravagant promises of reform in taxation and immigration. But almost everyone seemed to realize that the promises were insincere—the old “Washington shuffle.” There were many excuses, but there was never any intention of keeping those promises when they harmed the interests of the Washington Establishment, as all the demands of the Tea Party did. The Obama administration, however, did take the Tea Party seriously and worked assiduously behind the scenes, using well-timed audits of donors, delays for approvals of tax-exempt status for Tea Party groups, leaks by IRS employees of the names of Tea Party donors and other dirty tricks to delay and disable the movement. The Tea Party was shrewdly taken out of play by these tactics in Obama’s reelection in 2012. The Republicans, on the other hand, and the representatives of the oligarchic elites paid little attention to those Hillary Clinton called the “deplorables.” Trump, however, demonstrated that the memory of the people was not as fragile as the ruling elites thought.

Why would Trump betray his own class—the oligarchy? Self-interest is not always the dominant motivating force in some men—sometimes an instinct for justice prevails or sometimes a reputation for justice might be a primary self-interest. But it took an oligarch—an insider and a traitor to his class—to make plain that the American regime had become an unjust oligarchy. 

His class reacted to his effrontery with deadly purpose. How dare he take the side of the people! How dare he invoke justice! The elites, in and out of government, mobilized against him with resources that no individual could match. In the 2016 presidential election, Trump dominated the media because he was newsworthy. He received free coverage, much of it live, where he could speak directly to the people. He also had free access to Twitter and Facebook which allowed him to bypass the mainstream media. In the 2020 campaign, the so-called Masters of the Universe and the mainstream media would continue their opposition but with greater boldness and recklessness, simply printing rumors and outright fiction as fact. Their 2016 campaign turned on the Steele dossier and “Russian collusion,” both of which turned out to be hoaxes, but a steady stream of misrepresentations and fabrications became standard fare in 2020. The Masters dogged Trump unmercifully, censoring him at crucial moments that amounted to clear instances of election interference.

And the media were almost uniformly against Trump, suppressing news of the incriminating evidence of corruption found on Hunter Biden’s laptop—which the FBI said was credible—trading on his father’s connections with Russia, China, and Ukraine, news which if allowed to circulate openly in a free press and internet would certainly have benefited Trump’s reelection and destroyed the credibility of Biden. When asked about the corruption charges that might arise from the laptop revelations of Hunter Biden, the former vice-president’s answer was a studied non-sequitur: “I am proud of my son,” he said as he rushed off stage. He didn’t linger to specify what exactly it was about his son that made him particularly proud.

The role of the Dominion Voting system, which is easily manipulated, may be revealed in the future, but the likelihood that there will ever be another free election in America is remote if the 2020 election is not thoroughly investigated. An alarming percentage of the electorate no longer believe that the 2020 election produced a fair result. More than 70% of Republicans believe the election was fraudulent, if not stolen. More than 74 million voted for Trump, the highest vote total for a presidential candidate ever recorded, except for Biden. Confidence in the nation’s electoral system is at a low point; electoral manipulation—mail-in voting, extended time for voting, lack of voter I.D. requirements, lax signature verification requirements for absentee ballots, vote “harvesting,” ballot curing, and other measures inviting voter fraud—are obvious to everyone. Some just pretend it is justice.

Two new bills pending before Congress, the Freedom to Vote Act, and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, would federalize elections, and expand these opportunities for voting fraud that were prevalent in blue states in the election of 2020. The Freedom to Vote Act is nearly 600 pages of detailed federal regulations to nationalize state elections. Attempts to establish any integrity in voting, such as requiring voter i.d.—long ago endorsed as constitutionally sound by the Supreme Court—is stigmatized as “voter suppression” and an assault on democracy. Extended voting periods will be mandatory, as will mail-in ballots, liberal standards for absentee voting, and mandatory requirements for drop boxes for drive-by voting. Automatic and same-day registration would be required and election day would become a federal holiday. There will also be restrictions on congressional redistricting and campaign finance. The John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act is designed to overturn the Supreme Court’s ruling in Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder (2013) and restore its pre-clearance coverage formulas, especially those involving redistricting. This is a desperate attempt on the part of Democrats to pass legislation that will ensure the same access to potential voter fraud schemes that worked so well in the election of 2020. The attempt to federalize elections will certainly provoke constitutional challenges; the Democratic Party is attempting to push legislation through as part of its campaign to portray the Republicans as the party of Trump, supporters of insurrection, and the enemies of democracy. It is desperation on the part of the extreme Left which seems to have gained control of the Democratic Party.

The Insurrectionist Smear

In a shrill, divisive, and ultimately unsuccessful January speech this year urging passage of the two election bills, President Biden drove the wedge of racial division further than he ever has in a shameful attack on those who opposed the legislation. Opposition to the legislation, the president angrily shouted, is not only racism—it is insurrection! Voting rights are the very foundation of democracy, the president said, and any opposition to extend and protect those rights is simply an extension of the “insurrection” of January 6.

The President even suggested that the midterm elections in November of 2022 might be “illegitimate” if the new election laws are not passed, thus casting doubts on the integrity of an electoral system in an election that the Democrats are widely predicted to lose! House Majority leader Steny Hoyer echoed the President’s suggestion that this fall’s election might not be valid without reform of popular state efforts to protect election integrity such as instituting voter ID laws, tightening absentee voter requirements, and eliminating automatic distribution of mail-in ballots, all invitations to voter fraud. The kind of “free and open” elections that the Democratic Party touts as suitable for democracy is obviously more amenable to fraud and manipulation; it is the kind of electoral system that an oligarchy masquerading as a democracy would need as part of its deception. A genuine democracy, in contrast, demands an orderly electoral system where the vote—which is the true foundation of the regime—is protected by restricting the franchise to citizens who can show proof of citizenship and residence.

Opposition to the new voting rights legislation, the president declared, is also redolent of “Jim Crow”—it is “Jim Crow 2.0.” The country has to make a choice: “Do you want to be on the side of Dr. King or George Wallace? Do you want to be on the side of John Lewis or Bull Connor? Do you want to be on the side of Abraham Lincoln or Jefferson Davis?” Biden does not mention that Jim Crow is the legacy of the Democratic Party, and that his own mentors in the Senate, including James Eastland, Robert Byrd, and Strom Thurmond, were arch-segregationists and opponents of key civil rights legislation. John Lewis was, of course, a civil rights activist in the era that passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, perhaps the greatest expression of a color-blind constitution understood as “the equal protection of equal rights,” until, under the tutelage of successive Democratic administrations, the color-blind Constitution was transmogrified into affirmative action and its requirements of racial quotas and proportional racial results. During these years “racial consciousness” became the meme of the Democratic Party which has always refused to accept colorblindness as the moving principle the rule of law.

Finally, today the Biden Administration touts the benefits of “equity,” the most racist notion of distributive justice ever to exist in America since the passage of the Reconstruction Amendments. As for the admonition that we should take the side of Abraham Lincoln over Jefferson Davis, of course that is correct and has never been questioned except by Democratic Confederate sympathizers. But it has no application as the president suggests. The Fourteenth Amendment’s Section 3, which prohibits anyone who has committed “insurrection” or “rebellion” against the U.S. from holding office under the Constitution, was aimed at Confederate leaders such as Jefferson Davis, who had undoubtedly engaged in insurrection. Section 3 was the basis for the charge against President Trump in his second impeachment. Thus, in President Biden’s view, you either endorse the two voting rights bills or you are committing insurrection against the U.S. And who are the insurrectionists? None other than the Republicans in Congress who oppose the bills, and the January 6 rioters. The Justice Department views those who voted for Trump—both Republican, Democrats, and Independents, but mostly those who were white, as the greatest source, not only of white supremacy but “anti-government ideology.”

The administration is scouring the country to find the “insurrectionists” who invaded the Capitol on January 6, aided by a newly created unit in the Justice Department to investigate domestic terrorism. White supremacy and the ideology associated with it has been declared the greatest source of domestic terrorism. White supremacy, according to the president, inspired the January 6 rioters and Trump supporters. The president’s views have been seconded by the Attorney General and the nominees who will head the new domestic terrorism agencies. The security state expands and has become dangerously political.

Trump’s Second Impeachment

President Trump would become the only president impeached twice. From the beginning, the impeachment appeared to be an obvious overreach on the part of the House managers. The bill of impeachment was passed one week before the president was to leave office, but it was not delivered to the Senate until January 25, 5 days after Trump was no longer in office. The House leaders never intended to have a Senate trial while he was still in office. Granted, it would have been a very short trial had the House transmitted the Bill of Impeachment to the Senate immediately upon its passage, but if the president’s actions were as outrageous and as dangerous to democracy as the House managers made them out to be, conviction should have been simple since the Senate makes its own rules of evidence and due process rights do not apply. Impeachments are in their nature political—not legal—and an up-or-down vote with only a simulacrum of a trial might have resulted in conviction and removal, if enough Republicans were convinced that something as outrageous and threatening to democracy as an “insurrection or rebellion” had taken placed.

But the impeachment was never intended to remove Trump from office, only to prevent him from ever holding office again. Democrats have an abiding suspicion that Trump is still the biggest threat to the Washington Establishment. There was considerable dispute among legal experts about whether a former president can be impeached. Most of the experts believed that the Constitution provides no obstacle to such an impeachment and, even though a former president cannot be removed from office, he can nevertheless be disqualified from holding future office. It is the latter—disqualification from future office—that was the obvious purpose of both the House and Senate leadership, along with some complicit Republicans. 

The second impeachment of President Trump failed. It was as much a farce as the first. It was first and foremost an attempt to remove Trump from politics because, according to the Democrats, he was a danger to democracy. He was accused of fomenting what has come to be known as the “Big Lie,” the belief that the 2020 election was stolen. There is no evidence, say the defenders of Biden’s election—none whatsoever—to support the Big Lie. A multitude of courts have ruled against it. This last point is only partially true because almost all the decisions, in particular the Supreme Court ruling in Texas v. Pennsylvania, have been made on issues of standing and have not reached any of the merits of the substantive claims of election fraud. Very recent cases and challenges raise serious substantive claims, but the election itself will not be overturned. Still, the Washington Establishment continues to characterize the riot at the Capitol as an insurrection that posed the greatest danger to American democracy, as President Biden recently stated, “since the Civil War.” It was fomented by Trump followers who, for the most part, were inspired by “white supremacy.” White supremacists are the greatest source of “domestic terrorism” and the Justice Department and the intelligence agencies have announced they will make the elimination of domestic terrorism that is connected to white supremacy their priority. Speeches by the president and Attorney General Merrick Garland have come very close to identifying Trump supporters as the “white supremacists” who are most likely to be “domestic terrorists.”

The nation was recently scandalized when information surfaced that the Department of Education and the Justice Department, ostensibly acting at the request of the National School Boards Association, was prepared to declare parents who protested against school board education policies, particularly those involving Critical Race Theory and vaccination and mask requirements, “domestic terrorists.” In hearings before Congress Attorney General Merrick Garland’s feeble attempts to deny the revelations about this policy fell embarrassingly flat when the evidence appeared overwhelming. The Justice Department on the one-year anniversary of January 6th announced the creation of a domestic terrorism unit to meet “the elevated threat from domestic violent extremists in the U.S.” Assistant Attorney General Matthew Olsen testified before Congress. In other remarks made before the January 6 Committee General Olsen said that “we have seen a growing threat from those who are motivated by racial animus…and extremist anti-government and anti-authority ideologies.” Racial animus means primarily the white supremacy that animated the January 6 rioters and that seems to go hand in hand with anti-government and anti-authority ideologies.

One wonders how much Olsen knows about the American founding. Surely, he must have heard of the American Revolution, the greatest “anti-authority” movement probably in the history of the world. Those who are passionately enamored of “social justice” deny the relevance of the Declaration of Independence (wasn’t it written when there was still slavery in the country?), but anyone capable of thinking knows that it was a revolution in world historical consciousness which not only made constitutional government possible but, in Abraham Lincoln’s words, its central principle that “all men are created equal” was intended to be a “standard maxim for free society.” It was meant to be a “stumbling block,” Lincoln said, “to those who in after times might seek to turn a free people back into the hateful paths of despotism. They knew the proneness of prosperity to breed tyrants, and they meant when such should re-appear in this fair land and commence their vocation, they should find left for them at least one hard nut to crack.” The central principle of the Declaration—that “all men are created equal”—is the best defense against what is alleged to be “white supremacy.” But as we have seen over and over again, the Democrats and Progressives have refused to accept equality as a constitutional or legal principle. That “hard nut” was “cracked” long ago by the Progressives and their assault on the principles of the Declaration and the founding. It is now mere detritus left on the political battlefield. Progressive Democrats have abetted “white supremacy” by steadfastly refusing to accept equality as a principle of political life.

It is poignant to recall that in Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, published almost 75 years ago, we were informed that, in the official language of regime power, “it would have been impossible to render [the central passage of the Declaration of Independence] into Newspeak while keeping to the sense of the original. The nearest one could come to doing so would be . .  . the single word crimespeak.” But the principles of natural law and natural right adumbrated in the Declaration are as sound today as when they were written in 1776, and because those principles are non-historicist, they are applicable to all human beings at all times. Progressivism, despite its best efforts, has been unable to repeal human nature. The task of reviving natural law and natural right principles will not be easy, but not impossible, especially when right and natural justice is on the side of an appeal to first principles. According to the Declaration, the right of revolution is the most valuable right that human beings possess; it is the right that guarantees every other right and always resides in the people. It can never be given up and can never be surrendered or delegated to government as our Assistant Attorney General erroneously seems to think. It is the right “to alter or abolish” government and “to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.” The “Safety and Happiness of the people was the end or purpose of government to which the people consented in the first place. When government proves unwilling or unable to secure those ends, the people have the natural right to withdraw their consent and establish new government. Tyrannical government may suppress the exercise of the right of revolution for a time, but it can never extinguish it as a fundamental right of the people as long as human nature exists. General Olsen may continue to be an anonymous cog in the ever-expanding security state, but the love of freedom which is an eternal aspiration of the human soul will always embrace the natural right to an “anti-government ideology” when government acts to deny the people of its right to “safety and happiness.” I have now thus declared myself, it seems, to be a “domestic terrorist.”

White Supremacy and Domestic Terrorism

No reasoning person or anyone with the slightest degree of common sense can possibly believe that January 6 was the greatest danger to American democracy since the Civil War. The president may be indulged a certain amount of hyperbole, but this goes beyond the kind of hyperbole that graces legitimate rhetorical flourishes—it is a damnable lie. It does have something in common with the Civil War however. The Democratic Party before and during the Civil War insisted on dividing the nation by race and making race the persistent characteristic of the human persona. President Biden and the Democratic Party today are on a crusade to do the same. The Democrats have a long track record of racial politics and show no signs of abandoning those long-established political goals. Before and during the Civil War, the Democratic party was the party of slavery; after the Civil War, it supported Black Codes, Jim Crow, and segregation; belatedly seeking to make amends, it supported a new kind of segregation, affirmative action and its terminus ad quem, equity, a racial spoils system.

President Biden and his Attorney General, under the guise of prosecuting insurrectionists, are dividing the nation on racial lines. This is the real tragedy of January 6. Anyone who would deliberately and self-consciously advance racial division as the Biden Administration is doing does not have the nation’s best interests—nor democracy—in mind. Since the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the nation has made an extraordinary effort to overcome racial division, but it has faced massive obstacles from the liberal-Left. The emergence of “equity,” in all probability, has signaled the end of that great piece of legislation, as race has become openly and explicitly the basis of decisions guiding public policy. Whereas it was once thought necessary to disguise racial decisions as “goals and timetables” or as “equitable remedies” for the lingering effects of past discrimination, now the need for disguise has been thrown off and the ugly face of race is brazenly displayed. Equity means that goods and services—public policy—can be based on racial characteristics alone; there is no longer any need for justification.

Was It an Insurrection?

The hysteria surrounding the events of January 6 has been astounding. This was an attempted coup by an armed mob that sought to place Trump in office on the false claim that the election had been stolen from him. Democracy was under attack; the Constitution was endangered, and the fate of the constitutional republic was teetering on the edge of anarchy. The odd thing about this “armed rebellion” was that none of the insurrectionists were armed. One carried a folding knife, another showed up armed with bear spray, and another wore a bullet-proof vest—all of these “armed” insurrectionists were surely conscious of the fact that they had to transit one of the most dangerous cities in America that had recently been in the grip of riots orchestrated by BLM and Antifa in order to get to the Capitol. What rational person wouldn’t carry bear spray or wear a bullet proof vest? I am frankly surprised that more didn’t resort to such protection. Leaving that aside, what serious insurrectionists show up to an insurrection without weapons? Or without the military or an armed militia to back them up? This was never intended to be an “armed insurrection” and no amount of hysteria can turn it into one.

Early press reports that a Capitol police officer had been beaten to death by “insurrectionists” proved to be false; this was typical of the day’s media coverage. Several police officers did suffer injuries, none of them life-threatening. One officer died days later of a previous condition unrelated to the riots. He was treated as a savior who saved countless lives. I don’t minimize his contributions, but his efforts were magnified to exaggerate the actual “terrorism” of the rioters. The only person killed was a rather petite woman, a military veteran and Trump supporter, who was deliberately shot (by his own admission) by a Capitol policeman against whom the Justice Department, after a cursory investigation, has refused to file charges. The officer was never interviewed in the investigation and admitted that before he shot the unarmed Trump supporter, he could not see her hands. In other words, he did not know whether she was armed or not. The officer nevertheless said he shot her because she posed a threat to the Capitol, although he did not explain why others who were crowded around her did not pose a similar threat. This officer does not appear to have legally shot an unarmed person who was guilty, at most, of trespass. Yet the officer has since been promoted. The rioters are not the only ones who threatened democracy and the rule of law on that infamous day.

The Justice Department has launched the largest manhunt in its history in an extraordinary effort to track down everyone who crossed the barriers or entered the Capitol. The public has been asked to help identify rioters who have been subsequently charged with a variety of offenses, including trespassing, obstructing or impeding a government meeting, destroying government property, and assaulting, resisting, or impeding an officer. There have also been conspiracy charges: conspiracy to obstruct a congressional proceeding; conspiracy to obstruct law enforcement during civil disobedience, and conspiracy to injure an officer. Notably absent is that no one has actually been charged with “insurrection” or “conspiracy to commit insurrection,” for the simple reason that under the law it would be impossible to prove that an insurrection had taken place.

An FBI report has alleged that there is no evidence that the so-called insurrection was planned. Who would support the insurrectionists in their attempt to install Trump as president? Had they even thought that far? This was a comedy of errors—a riot, but not a coup. There was violence in the Capitol, typical of a riot, but no large-scale fires or property destruction such as occurred in the riots led by BLM or Antifa in the lawless months leading up to this unparalleled event. There was illegal trespass, and an illegal attempt to disrupt a congressional meeting, but hardly a threat to democracy. Did the United States come close to regime change on January 6th? The troop of clowns who invaded the capitol might better be described as “merry pranksters.” How else can you describe the “rioter” in fur robes and Viking horns—called “QAnon Shaman” by the media, who spoke in a friendly manner with a Capitol police officer in the House chamber? He was nevertheless so dangerous, that he was held without bail, in solitary confinement, and ultimately sentenced to 41 months in prison.

U.S. District Court Judge Royce Lamberth, who issued the sentence, acknowledged that the Shaman had not engaged in any physical violence but asserted that “what you did was terrible. You made yourself the epitome of the riot… what you did here was actually obstruct the functioning of the whole government. It’s a serious crime.” At least Judge Lamberth didn’t say the Shaman engaged in insurrection. Perhaps he recognized that the insurrection exists only in the febrile imaginations of President Biden and the radical Left of the Democratic party who seek to divide the nation once again along racial lines as did the Democrats of old. Insurrection has fallen on hard times. It has been replaced by the low art of race-baiting. That is the real threat to democracy.

The American Mind presents a range of perspectives. Views are writers’ own and do not necessarily represent those of The Claremont Institute.

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