Internet pundits have been quick to point out that what we saw yesterday wasn’t a coup because it didn’t involve the military. Pedantry aside, what we witnessed was a violent insurrection carried out at the behest of the President of the United States in order to undermine Constitution, government, and the lawful, peaceful transition of power from one administration to the next. The fact that this president still occupies the Oval Office more than 24 hours since attempting to overthrow the government is a mark of moral cowardice on every Executive Branch official who has the power to do something about it and has failed to act decisively. At a minimum, each and every cabinet secretary should have, by now, called on the president to resign to his everlasting disgrace.
I have even less use for these right wing insurrectionists than I did for the lefties who burned and rioted their way through the summer. I hold them to a higher standard because when and where I come from, “conservative” implies rational, thoughtful decision-making of the head rather than zooming off in whatever direction the heart demands. Republicans very recently claimed to be the party that supported the police – the party of law and order. It’s hard to give credit for “backing the blue” when you’re in the streets and in the halls of Congress swinging on them.
I’m a Republican (capital “R”) and a republican (lower-case “r”). I believe in the virtue of small government and lower taxes, of free people and free markets. I am never going to get next to this strain of contemporary MAGA-ism that rejects science (because they don’t understand it) or rejects election results (because they don’t like who won). I’m never going to get next to the idea that we should be embarrassed by being in some way intellectual. I’m never going to get behind the idea of twisting the Constitution with wild contortionistic abandon, throwing over 232 years of precedent, to suit the aims of a single man. I’m never going to understand a group of people who want to buy whole cloth into whatever blatant lies and wild-ass conspiracy theory the internet spits out, because believing the patently unbelievable is more comforting than dealing with hard realities of the actual world.
More importantly, I will never stand with those who seek to subvert the Constitution by force or otherwise. These insurrectionists, with the President of the United States as their leader, and with the support of sitting senators and members of the House of Representatives, betrayed of not just our history and our laws, but also the spirit of America. Those who participated in, agitated for, support, condone, or in any way provide aid and comfort to them are treasonous bastards who deserve all the scorn and derision we can heap upon them and to should prosecuted to the fullest possible extent of the law.
This afternoon a vile and seditious mob stormed and attempted to occupy the United States Capitol at the direction of the President of the United States. Their intent was to subvert our laws and Constitution by preventing the Congress from formally counting the votes of the Electoral College.
At best it’s insurrection. At worst it’s treason.
Today we’re watching an attempted coup d’état in the United States of America.
January 6, 2021 should forever be condemned as the darkest day in the history of our republic.
Inmate Manning was arrested for and convicted of one of the most grievous breaches of national security ever committed by a single individual. Inmate Manning was was accused and convicted of violating the espionage act and sundry other charges for making public 750,000 military and diplomatic documents. The inmate may have been convicted of espionage, but in my mind those actions are nothing less than treason. I can’t imagine a crime more vile or a creature so loathsome than a traitor.
Even more appalling, of course is that after serving only seven years Inmate Manning was granted clemency by the outgoing administration. It seems the inmate couldn’t even manage to find the personal fortitude to serve the time for the acts admittedly committed. It was clemency offered by and accepted from an administration that’s spent the last few months raising three kinds of hell about foreign influence on American elections, freeing known terrorists from confinement, and and generally leaking like a sieve.
This… “person”… betrayed the United States of America, put American lives at risk overseas, and was belatedly rewarded for the effort. I’d dearly love to say I’m surprised, but it feels ever more like business as usual in a world where up is down and good is evil.
I like to think that somewhere beneath my polo shirt clad exterior lies a rebel heart. I want to imagine that if I were forced into making a choice between running the machine and tearing it down, I’d opt into the later group.
When I look at a few dozen western ranchers who decided to make their stand over issues of cheap grazing on federal lands, I realize I really don’t have much sympathy for rebellion – at least not as they have packaged and sold it. As much as I bitch and complain about the way things are, serving the machine has done well by me. Decent enough pay. Plenty of vacation time. Even a respectable, if not gold plated, retirement plan. There’s money to be made in rebellion, of course, but they tend to offer precious little by way of security.
I can certainly imagine circumstances where I might be tempted to take up arms in order to uphold my long ago oath to support and defend the Constitution, but those scenarios are exceptional. I enjoy rousing the rabble as much or more than the next guy, but rising up against lawfully constituted authority, it seems, is against my nature in except all but the most fractious of circumstances.
Hitching your star largely to issues of western range land management feels like grievances best redressed by the courts and doesn’t do much to inspire my inner revolutionary spirit. Bring me a cause with some real meat on the bone and I could be persuaded to get behind it with my life, fortune, and sacred honor. Going to the mat over a couple of convicted felons just seems like wasting good powder.
A year ago, hell, six weeks ago I would have called Edward Snowden a traitor. Handing information to the press, especially classified information, goes against the grain and against a decade worth of training and experience. I can’t fathom a circumstance under which I’d do it… I’m philosophically opposed to finding myself in a federal prison or being “disappeared” by some of the more clandestine elements of our government, you see.
Maybe the country would be a happier place if we were all left fat and ignorant of what happens behind the fence line. With reality TV and the celebrity of the moment to entertain us, I wonder how long our collective national focus will remain fixed on what I think we can agree is at best an egregious violation of our collective rights as citizens of the republic. I’m sure it won’t be for as long as it should.
Look, our data is out there. We’re giving it freely to companies like Apple and Google every second of every day. It’s not that I have a problem with Uncle having a peek now and then, it’s that he’s blatantly said for so long that he’s not doing it. If the president or the Director of National Intelligence stood up and said “yep, we’re keeping an eye on phone calls and email and we’ve stopped X, Y, and Z as a result,” I’d probably be on the government’s side of this one without a second thought.
It’s the lie that chafes. It’s always the lie. That’s why I’m conflicted. And that’s why I can’t quite bring myself to condemn Mr. Snowden.
Last night, a member of the United States Congress stood in front of a campaign fundraiser in New York City and told the crowd that “The country is ripe for a true revolution.” Worse yet, he had the unmitigated gall to use this call to revolt as nothing more than an applause line. I suggest you study your history, Mr. Paul. Revolutions are brutal affairs. Look to our own Civil War and War for Independence as your examples. Look to France’s Reign of Terror as a guide if the fields of Antietam, Shiloh, Lexington, and Bunker Hill aren’t bloody enough for you.
Words, Congressman Paul, are important. How we use them is important. The meaning we convey, whether intentionally provoking or simply aimed at garnering easy applause, is important. And by God, sir, when you as use your status as a duly elected member of Congress to call for revolution against the government of the United States, you’ve saved us all the trouble of deciding and branded yourself a traitor.
We had our revolution, Congressman, and with it we secured the right to replace our government through legal means. As a twice failed candidate for president, you’ve not garnered the support of enough of your own party to even be the nominee, let alone convince half the electorate at large that your ideas are right. No sir, we don’t need a revolution. What we do need is to get back to the spirit and intent of the revolution we fought to win our independence. I’ve been a capital “R” Republican for most of my adult life, but I’ve been a lowercase “r” republican for much longer. The founders gave us all the tools we need cure what ails this nation. We must fix the foundation, but you want to tear down the whole house and then set the rubble alight. You may couch your rhetoric in populism, but a call to revolution, intentional or otherwise, is a supreme act of cowardice from a man who’s run out of legitimate ideas. Shame! Shame!
This Monday Rasmussen released a poll that proclaimed a “pre-revolutionary” sentiment in the United States. Watching the home grown violence gripping our allies in the UK, in Spain, and in Greece, we should take a hard look at what it means to be “pre-revolutionary.” A revolution isn’t just tearing down the machine with no ideas about what the next best thing should look like. Can you imagine George Washington or Ben Franklin simply throwing out the British and then going home to hope for the best… but only after looting all the stores in Philadelphia?
I know there are plenty of people out there agitating and that there are a few of them who have no purpose other than just wanting to see the world burn. Our forefathers granted us a republic and we owe it to ourselves and our own posterity to avail ourselves of every built in electoral and procedural safeguard to maintain it. I swore an oath to defend the Constitution against enemies foreign and domestic. When I took that oath, I never dreamed that it would be the latter that most worried me.
If there is doubt for anyone reading this, let me go on the record in as loud and clear a voice as I can muster: The faceless mob, the rabble, who use the present adversity to feed into this call for insurrection deserve nothing more than a traitor’s death. In a turbulent world, we are still the last great bulwark between civilization and the abyss. Should be stumble or if we shrug, beyond here there be monsters.