American democracy is under an unprecedented attack. Not from Russia. Not from China. Not from Iran. Not from any outside force. The attack aimed at the heart of our nation is from the President of the United States, his band of Republican co-conspirators in the House and Senate, and a mob of fierce Trump loyalists.
The deadly chaos that erupted on January 6th in Washington was fueled by four years of President Trump’s violence-igniting rhetoric, repeated irrational conspiracy theories, appointment of too many incompetent sycophants to crucial cabinet and sub-cabinet positions, and his denigration of the establishments that are basic protectors of constitutional democracy (i.e., the media, national security institutions, inspector generals across government, and an independent Department of Justice).
The fire under this already-roiling pot of discontent was lit yesterday at a gathering of thousands at the Ellipse, first by angry speeches from (among others) Rudolph Giuliani calling for “a trial by combat,” and Donald Trump, Jr. warning members of Congress that if they were “going to be a zero rather than a hero, we’re coming for you, and we’re going to have a good time doing it.”
The heat was turned up in a rambling, incoherent speech by Trump in which he told the band of malcontents that they will “never take back our country with weakness,” that they will have to “fight harder,” and he closed by telling them to march to the Capitol. His words blew the lid off the cooker and the walls of Congress were breached by insurrectionists bent on destruction and obstruction. And they succeeded in doing both, leaving shattered doors, broken windows, five people dead and more than 50 police officers injured.
Those thugs overpowered the Capitol Police, paraded through the halls of Congress waving Trump and confederate flags, occupied and looted congressional offices, and shut down the work of Congress. Their actions were unquestionably criminal. So, there can be no doubt: the actions of Donald J. Trump yesterday were also a crime.
He is, at the least, guilty of aiding and abetting a criminal act. The Federal law states that “whoever aids, abets, counsels, commands, induces or procures the commission of an offense is punishable as a principal. Whoever willfully causes an act to be done, which if directly performed by him or another, would be an offense publishable as a principal.”
I can also argue that he is guilty of sedition (“inciting a revolt of violence against a lawful authority with the goal of destroying or overthrowing it…” or, perhaps, even of treason.
I Changed My Mind
Until yesterday, it was my opinion that the goal of those of us who believe that Trump is a clear and present danger should be to defeat Trump and his Congressional enablers at the polls, and to move on to reconstructing our democracy and renewing the soul of our nation. I felt that if the new administration focused on punishing the former president for his many wrong doings it would consume resources, energy and time needed for the crucial restoration work and lead to four years of frustrating combat with the Trump supporters.
But after watching yesterday’s chaos I now believe that the perpetrators must be held accountable for their law breaking. To ignore them will only lead to escalation. This must end. These violent thugs must be held accountable, and that includes the president and those in Congress who aided and abetted his actions.
Note: The pictures were taken from my television, which was tuned to MSNBC
Bill Jamieson’s career has included leadership positions in business, government, and education. He was also an ordained deacon in the Episcopal Church and his ministry centered around advocacy for low-income families and children.