Worst Interregnum In History

Derrick Evans (R), was just elected-- with just 37.3% of the vote-- to the West Virginia state legislature to represent Wayne County, the westernmost piece of West Virginia, right up against Kentucky. Parts of West Virginia are DC suburbs. Wayne County isn't; it's far-- a 7 hour drive. In the 2016 primary, Bernie won with 2,898 votes. On the same day Trump scored 2,662 votes in the GOP primary. People wanted change. In the general election Trump beat Hillary 68.7% to 26.5%. Trump did even better this year against Biden-- 74.3% to 24.1%.

The 7 hour drive wasn't an obstacle for the newly-elected Rep. Evans. He was in DC this morning, among the rioters and terrorists who broke into the Capitol. He even filmed himself screaming "We’re in! We’re in! We’re in! We’re in! Derrick Evans is in the Capitol." He posted the film on Facebook and then removed it. He hasn't been removed from the West Virginia House yet. Speaker Roger Hanshaw (R) issued a tepid statement saying "He will need to answer to his constituents and colleagues regarding his involvement in what has occurred today. While free speech and peaceful protests are a core value of American society, storming government buildings and participating in a violent intentional disruption of one of our nation’s most fundamental political institutions is a crime that should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."

By evening yesterday, the NY Times had a full fledged editorial and several Op-Ed columns calling for Trump's removal. "Trump is to blame for the Capitol attack," wrote the editors. "The president incited his followers to violence. There must be consequences." They went on to include "his Republican enablers in Congress" as being responsible for the violence. "Trump’s seditious rhetoric prompted a mob of thousands of people to storm the U.S. Capitol building, some breaking onto the House and Senate floors, where the nation’s elected representatives had gathered to perform their constitutional duty of counting electoral votes and confirming the election of Joe Biden as president. It is fitting that some carried the Confederate flag as they attacked the seat of American government and forced the suspension of congressional debate. They shattered windows and broke doors, clashing with overwhelmed security forces as they shouted their support for Mr. Trump and their defiance of the lawful results of the 2020 election. One woman was killed. The nation’s leaders were sent scurrying for shelter. Explosives were found in the Capitol and multiple locations around Washington. Pro-Trump protests also shut down statehouses around the country... The president needs to be held accountable-- through impeachment proceedings or criminal prosecution-- and the same goes for his supporters who carried out the violence."

Former Arizona Senator Jeff Flake (R) came right to the point: My Fellow Republicans, Trump Is Destroying Us. "Trump," he wrote, "has taken many in my party with him, all of whom seem to have learned the wrong lessons from this anomalous presidency. George Orwell, after all, meant for his work to serve as a warning, not as a template. How many injuries to American democracy can my Republican Party tolerate, excuse and champion?"

It is hard to comprehend how so many of my fellow Republicans were able-- and are still able-- to engage in the fantasy that they had not abruptly abandoned the principles they claimed to believe in. It is also difficult to understand how this betrayal could be driven by deference to the unprincipled, incoherent and blatantly self-interested politics of Donald Trump, defined as it is by its chaos and boundless dishonesty. The conclusion that I have come to is that they did it for the basest of reasons-- sheer survival and rank opportunism.
But survival divorced from principle makes a politician unable to defend the institutions of American liberty when they come under threat by enemies foreign and domestic. And keeping your head down in capitulation to a rogue president makes you little more than furniture. One wonders if that is what my fellow Republicans had in mind when they first sought public office.

Nick Kristof dedicated his column to the same theme: Trump Incites Rioters, comparing Trump to Benedict Arnold and to coups in Third World banana republics. "What the pro-Trump rioters attacked was not only a building but also the Constitution, the electoral system, our democratic process. They humiliated the United States before the world and left America’s enemies chortling... After a year in which Trump presented himself as the law-and-order president and denounced protesters as rioters, he summoned supporters to Washington and unleashed them as rioters on the Capitol as the Electoral College votes were being counted. 'Be there, will be wild,' he tweeted."

Charlie Warzel reminded readers that The Pro-Trump Movement Was Always Headed Here. "For years, professional grifters, trolls, true believers and political opportunists have sowed conspiratorial lies. We are now witnessing the reaping. It is likely to get worse... For close observers of the pro-Trump and far-right extremist movements, this dark moment has felt almost inevitable. You can draw a straight line from the message-board fever swamps to Mr. Trump’s rallies to Charlottesville to 'Stand back and stand by' to this. It is a desperate attempt to overthrow the democratic process. It is also the crash of a universe of toxic conspiracies against the rocks of human reality." How did this happen? Warzel offered a few examples-- just from the past few weeks-- of the long-term effects of an endless stream of propaganda, conspiracy and lies.

  • A group of at least 13 Republican senators and more than 100 Republican House members said they would refuse to accept President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory.

  • The president of the United States was caught on tape for over an hour angrily spouting QAnon conspiracy theories about voter fraud in an attempt to pressure Georgia state officials to overturn the election results.

  • In Nashville, federal investigators announced they are looking into evidence that suggests the Christmas bombing suspect believed in lizard people and other far-fetched conspiracy theories.

  • A Wisconsin pharmacist who believed the coronavirus vaccine to be harmful intentionally sabotaged more than 500 Moderna vaccine doses. In Georgia, state officials announced recently they are expanding vaccine access because many rural health care workers refuse to get the shot.

  • On Monday, a man with an online history of extremist right-wing views was detained in Queens after a hoax 911 bomb call that shut down a mall parking garage.

He wrote that this type of Trumpist crap "is the culmination of more than five years of hatred, trolling, violent harassment and conspiracy theorizing that has moved from the internet’s underbelly to the White House and back again. While that hate and violence has on occasion spilled into the streets, it appears we’re only beginning to understand its true impact."

Ben Jealous, president of People for the American Way, sent a message to his board last night: "The reckless incitement of violence today by Donald Trump leads to an inescapable conclusion. The president is unwilling or unable to understand the danger of his actions or the reality of his election loss. He is unfit, as well as unable or unwilling, to serve for even the few remaining days of his term, and allowing him to stay in office is an unacceptable threat to national security. We don't make this demand frivolously or casually, but because it is the only safe and responsible thing to do. We urge the Vice President and the Cabinet to proceed with removal of President Trump under provisions of the 25th Amendment. Today's events show us that our nation is at grave risk for as long as he remains in office."

By the time I turned in last night there were 43 members of Congress who had signed on as supporters of impeaching Trump and 43 members-- some the same-- who had voiced agreement that the 25th Amendment should be invoked.