A Coup d'Etat? Seriously?

          My cell phone blew up mid-afternoon yesterday. Was I watching what was going on in Washington, D.C.? The Capit0l was being stormed! There was a coup taking place!

          I never turned on the television, or did more than scan a few Internet accounts of the events. I even asked that the television be kept off at home, the better to avoid the breathless hysteria of cable news.

          Yesterday, protestors stormed the Capitol. They drove Congress into a bunker and, for a short time, disrupted the people's business. They were eventually ousted from the building, with minimal property damage. At least one protestor was killed.       

          There were no tanks headed to the Capitol. No military units supported the crowd. Mass communications weren't cut, bombs weren't detonated, fires weren't set. There was no threat to the republic on display yesterday. Indeed, by evening's end, Congress was back at work, the Electoral College votes tallied, and Joseph Biden became president-elect. He'll be sworn into office on January 20 at noon.

          I did not for a moment consider democracy imperiled.

          Did Donald Trump instigate this? Yes. He is discreditable. He'll soon be gone. For four years, he served as national canary in the mineshaft of our collective life, tweeting rage at all those who cared, or felt compelled, to listen.

          We're four years deeper into the mine now, and the air is a little thinner; there's a chill afloat, and intimations of danger ahead. But to say Donald Trump caused the danger or sowed division in this country mistakes effect for cause. A candidate like Donald Trump was elected because of divisions already extant. He was a showboater and an opportunist.

          I posted photographs on Facebook today, asking viewers to compare and contrast the shots of a man in the Capitol carrying a Confederate flag with a protestor carrying an American flag upside down as he walked down a street of burning buildings. The photos are a litmus test. What you see reflects your politics.

          Me? I felt far more threatened by the summer's riots and scenes of widespread looting, arson and destruction of public monuments in cities coast to coast than I felt by the rioting in Washington, D.C. yesterday. What I saw yesterday were folks registering misguided protests about a stolen election; what I saw last summer was massive uprisings across the country demanding that their demands be met lest my city, too, go up in flames. In the former case, police officers quickly restored order; in the latter cases, police stood by while the media declared the protests "mostly peaceful."

        I guess I am a captive of my skin, my "white privilege," the politically correct will mutter.

        But there is a different view. Both the unrest in Washington yesterday and throughout the nation this past summer are signs of a broader crisis of legitimacy. We don't dream the same dreams as a people. That's dangerous. Angry people take to the streets to destroy and disrupt things. Folks on both the left and right do this.

        Will it come to civil war? No. There aren't broader defining issues sufficient to moblize a divided populace into warring camps. Slavery ended generations ago; so, too, did Jim Crow. Playing the race card is a losing hand.
I took a cold sort of comfort in yesterday's uprising.

          Sen. Chuck Schumer was filled with joy yesterday as a result of the the Georgia run-off election, an election which seated two new Democrat Senators. The result will now be a Senate divided evenly between Republican and Democrat caucuses, giving to Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris the deciding vote in the Senate. Schumer's message: "Buckle Up!" He earlier promised to "transform America" if given control of the Senate. I suspect that Schumer and House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi have big plans.

        I'm hoping Senator Schumer was discomfited by the events in the Capitol yesterday. Not so fast, Chuck, the crowd was saying. You may have won an election, but you govern by consent. You can't push people where they are unwilling to go.

        There was no coup attempt yesterday. The government still stands. There will be a peaceful transition of power in a couple of weeks.

        But what happens after that is an open question.  I'm not optimistic. But neither am I filled with dread. Yesterday was no Kenosha. Not even close.


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Comments: (7)

  • I wish ...
    I wish that journalism was still independent and that science still invited dissenting scrutiny ... I suppose that truth is no longer considered to be "antifragile" (a la Nicholas Taleb) by those entrusted with its care ... if journalism and science were functioning properly the polarization which we now see would be greatly reduced
    Posted on January 7, 2021 at 4:30 pm by George Duhaime
  • Much to Agree With, Much to Disagree With
    You are right that Trump is a canary in a coal-mine cage. And, you are right that he did not cause the divisions. But, he manipulated, enhanced, and aggravated them greatly. You brush that off. You, admittedly necessarily, cherry pick photos and extrapolate conclusions from them. The Capitol -- and the statues of Franklin and Jefferson, for example, removed removed from my law school campus -- are ALL sacred monuments to me. Sitting in the Speaker's chair is as defacing to my monument as sitting on the face of Abraham Lincoln in his monument would be to both of us. These people, illegally in the Capitol, scoff at our political norms and sacred values. You shrug off the "canary in a mineshaft" message this sends about their respect for our political norms and respect for our republican values and practices. This bodes ill for the future of our republic as much as the quickly fizzled out George Floyd riots. We do share some dreams. Possession of property and freedom in that possession is the most widespread. What we differ about is what entitles us to that property. Property rights, sadly, are the unifying value of America. But, we differ about what rights we have to acquire it. Finally, you ignore the conservative voting record of Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia. He's now the real tie breaker in the Senate. As often as not he votes with the Republicans. Not much will change in the Senate. Our national temple of democracy was invaded, crassly and criminally, often by breaking and entering and almost always by trespassing yesterday. That too, along with the George Floyd rioting is very alarming symbolism to me. And I think you have minimized it.
    Posted on January 8, 2021 at 1:51 am by ANDREW L WARREN
  • police
    Posted on January 8, 2021 at 9:16 am by John Eaton
  • Your article on infowars!
    That was quite the stupid article you posted on infowars. It was devoid of facts, and your information is highly inaccurate. And yeah seriously it WAS a coup d’etat! I guess you couldn’t take the time to do any research on the internet. If you had, then you would have discovered that Capitol Police (or persons posing as Capitol Police)were motioning in, waving in and directing Antifa to initiate the breach at the Capitol. Why would Capitol Police do that unless they were instructed to? It was all STAGED! There is video footage of it on the internet that backs up what I’m saying, if you care to look at it. Please in the future, do your homework before posting an article.
    Posted on January 8, 2021 at 2:45 pm by JB
  • As usual you're wrong. ;0)
    That election was stolen. Biden is an illegitimate president. You say I'm wrong? Then give me conservative partisan witnesses to attest to the validity of the election in Philadelphia, Detroit, Milwaukee, and Atlanta. You say there aren't any because poll watchers and poll challengers were not meaningfully allowed to perform their function? Kept at a distance and sent home after being told the counting was done for the night while the counting continued? Then all those counted ballots are fraudulent (and most likely driven up in a van in the middle of the night and stuffed into the ballot boxes). Those counts need to be removed from the results. We have big a problem. We need photo id, proof of citizenship, and signature verification. All of which Democrats have spent 40 years undermining in the courts under the rubric of systemic racism and the courts have given them the cheat. This time around again the state legislatures failed and the courts legislated. Those people in DC and I are fed up with the steal that has been going on for very many election cycles now and the last being the most egregious. But you keep trying to talk yourself to sleep.
    Posted on January 8, 2021 at 3:31 pm by frank
  • Perceptions
    When you live in truth, you become strong. A strong person does not need the approval of peers; A lion does NOT need the approval of sheep. ONLY the poor little sheep (the weak sheeple) need a herd to feel good. Only the wise understand this. The ignorant have no clue...is why they are ignorant and do not know things because they refuse to be curious to learn. The ignorant sheep stay in a herd because they are afraid...this is also why they are stupid. INSPIRATION: I n   t h e   r e a l m   o f  p o s s i b i l i t i e s , w e   a r e   o n l y  l i m i t e d,  b y   o u r   i n a b i l i t y   t o   i m a g i n e . The only thing we can perceive are our perceptions, in other words, consciousness is the matrix upon which our cosmos is apprehended. People only see what they are prepared to see.. - Ralph Waldo Emerson When the student is ready, the teacher will come. ADMONITION: Losers need to step aside; Lazy squatters need to exercise; Leaders need to step up; Doers need to get going The margin between success and failure is so narrow that most people miss it; The devil is in the details, so should WE BE;
    Posted on January 8, 2021 at 7:54 pm by Frank
  • Coup d'Etat?
    Looking at the comments you stirred up a hornets nest with your post – what happened at the capitol was not to be condoned, but seen as an expression of discontent, to quote you; “ I'm hoping Senator Schumer was discomfited by the events in the Capitol yesterday. Not so fast, Chuck, the crowd was saying. You may have won an election, but you govern by consent. You can't push people where they are unwilling to go.” – no doubt the U.S. is ideologically split and I see no solution other than the battle of minds in the democratic process unfolding in the halls of congress. As far as the protestors, there were many more who did not vandalize the congress and of those, at this point, we can’t be sure if some were paid agitators to fire up the vulnerable in the crowd. The press reports that John Sullivan, Insurgent was there. He’s from Utah and the founder of “Insurgence USA,” which is a group dedicated to “racial justice and police reform.” According to numerous news reports, he has a history of organizing leftist protests and identifies with Black Lives Matter. In any event, whoever and for whatever reason the capitol was attacked it was wrong and not even the remotest possibility that it was an attempted coup. Now, I want to move on to perhaps the paranoid side of my thinking. For a variety of reasons, I believe this election was manipulated in at least six states and on the day the capitol was breached, various members of congress were going to oppose the results of the election, after the breach, the will to contest the electoral college vote was diminished and Biden was certified the winner. I do not mean to suggest that minus the breach the certified results would be different, but to point out this incident was convenient as it deprived the American people of the opportunity to hear from elected officials the arguments for voter manipulation, a lost opportunity. The election results show Mr. Trump with 74 million votes is a force to be reckoned with, and the democrats with the new impeachment effort continue their efforts to crush him so he does not rise again from the ashes. That effort is a fool’s errand as Mr. Trump represented the ideology of his voting block and the democrats need to recognize that fact.
    Posted on January 10, 2021 at 9:15 am by Raymond Sitar

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