President Donald Trump talked a lot about “we” during his rally that preceded violence in the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. “We” will never give up, and “we” will never concede the election Trump lost two months ago.
“After this, we’re going to walk down, and I’ll be there with you … we’re going to walk down to the Capitol, and we’re going to cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women. And we’re probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them,” Trump told the crowd.
Of course, Trump didn’t show up at the Capitol, where hundreds of people breached security and disrupted government business for several hours. Trump was safely away at the White House while his disciples risked arrest, injury and even death in their misguided devotion to a crackpot criminal.
Iowa’s U.S. senators, supporters of the president, had front-row seats to history. Joni Ernst was visible in the live broadcast of Senate proceedings, sitting just behind a fellow Republican who was delivering remarks about imaginary voter fraud in the 2020 election. Chuck Grassley, Senate president pro tempore and third in the line of presidential succession, interrupted him to call a recess before being whisked away to a secure location.
Politicians issued statements condemning the violence, but few Republicans spoke directly to the cause of the despicable scene — it was caused by Donald Trump, the incompetent wannabe authoritarian who they have enabled for the past four years.
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Many stood silent while Trump promised before the election that he would dispute any results where he didn’t win. They rarely spoke up when Trump repeatedly flirted with outright endorsements of thug violence throughout his 2016 candidacy and his whole presidency.
At best, most elected Republicans and party operatives offered feeble disagreement or cynical whataboutisms. Too often, they gave defiant and nonsensical defenses of Trump’s un-American antics and his attacks on conservative values.
Some of them ignored the fact that Trump lost on the very same ballots that elected a larger Republican caucus in the U.S. House, which was seated this week. And they abandoned local election administration as a key piece of our Constitutional system.
You can’t say you didn’t know about the unique threat Trump poses to the republic. Dissenting Republicans and honest constitutionalists have been sounding the alarm for years.
Two credible challengers ran against Trump for the Republican nomination in 2020, but nobody cared. Trump won 97 percent in the 2020 Republican caucuses, which Iowa GOP officials boasted was among the best attended incumbent nominating contests in recent history.
I was furious and heartbroken at the images from Washington, D.C. this week, but also by the response on social media and in the news, where I saw dueling factions variously call for fellow Americans to be shot on sight by federal police, or explain away the uprising as no big deal.
Finally on Wednesday night, a few Republicans took the floors of Congress to forcefully affirm the election results and rebuke Trump and his violent fanatics. All it took was a mob and bloodshed.
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