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Rebuilding America As ‘A More Perfect Union’

By Reed Anfinson
Swift County Monitor-News
“I hate it to end this way. Oh, my God, I hate it.” These words came from Republican South Carolina U.S. Sen. Lyndsey Graham, one of President Donald Trump’s most ardent supporters during his four years in office.

And while he briefly applauded Trump as a “consequential president,” recognizing what he had done for conservatives on judicial appointments, taxes, and immigration, he outright dismissed Trump’s challenge of the presidential election results. He also laid the blame for the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol by his most extreme supporters that killed a Capitol police officer at Trump’s feet. Four others died that day as well.

“When it comes to accountability, the president needs to understand that his actions were the problem, not the solution,” Graham said at a news conference last Thursday. “I more than anyone have to say, enough is enough.” Later, as he left D.C. for home, Trump supporters at the airport yelled at him that he was a “traitor.”

We know that many of Trump’s supporters were also dismayed by the destruction caused by the militant and extreme supporters. They also feel a sense of something lost.

Finally, later Jan. 6, with members of Congress preparing to resume the counting of Electoral College votes certifying President-elect Joe Biden’s win in the ransacked Capitol, Trump aired a short video. He first gave a scripted denunciation of the sacking saying he was “outraged by the violence, lawlessness, and mayhem.” Then he acknowledged his defeat.

“Now, Congress has certified the results. A new administration will be inaugurated on Jan. 20. My focus now turns to ensuring a smooth, orderly, and seamless transition of power,” he said. Many have said his words were far too little, far too late.

Some entering the Capitol Jan. 6 carried large zip ties intended to secure members of Congress. Some carried weapons. One had a car full of Molotov cocktails. “Murder the media,” was scratched into a door. They smashed historic pieces of Capitol furniture, ransacked offices, and stole property.

Enraged and motivated

The crowd gathered at the Capitol had been called to Washington by Trump to support his baseless claims that the election was rigged. They were to help him pressure Congress to reject the Electoral College votes.

 “We’re going to walk down, and I’ll be there with you,” he said of going to the Capitol. “You’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength, and you have to be strong.” He fired them up, then left for his office to watch the result.

Trump lost 59 court challenges to election results. Among them was one at the U.S. Supreme Court with its 6-3 conservative majority thanks to his appointment of three justices. Republican governors and secretaries of state approved election results even after extreme personal pressure from Trump.

“President Trump claims the election was stolen,” Senate Majority Leader Republican Mitch McConnell said on the Senate floor Jan. 6. But “nothing before us proves illegality anywhere near the massive scale that would have tipped the entire election. . . . If this election were overturned by mere allegations from the losing side, our democracy would enter a death spiral.”

“What happened on Capitol Hill yesterday (Jan. 6) is a direct result of his poisoning the minds of people with the lies and frauds,” John Kelly, Trump’s former chief of staff, and a retired four-star Marine Corps general, said.

Loyal Trump supporter former Attorney General William Barr, who was essential to frustrating efforts by Democrats to impeach him, said: “Orchestrating a mob to pressure Congress is inexcusable. The president’s conduct yesterday was a betrayal of his office and supporters.”

But Republican elected officials, opportunists looking to secure the Trump base for their own political ambitions, zealously repeated the misinformation about widespread voter fraud.
Consequences will last

“Words have consequences and we have seen them at the most dangerous level,” conservative West Virginia Democrat U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin said Sunday morning. Actions have consequences.

“We are going to have a pack of troubles overseas as a result of this,” retired Adm. James Stravridis, former NATO Supreme Allied Commander, said. “Think about how this is being received. Moscow, Beijing, Iran…talk about high fives. Talk about opportunity. If you are sitting in Beijing, you are thinking, ‘What can I do to take advantage of this? Our allies are weakened, our opponents are strengthened,” he said. American exceptionalism is dead in the eyes of the world. It will take an extraordinary effort of Republicans and Democrats alike to restore our image.

A strong message of accountability must be sent so those who contemplate such actions in the future so they know there will be a severe price to pay.

U.S. Attorney for the District of Minnesota Erica MacDonald was appointed by President Trump. She is now saying that any Minnesotans who were part of the sacking of the U.S. Capitol will be prosecuted. “The storming of our nation’s Capitol building is not protest—it’s despicable, disrespectful and a violation of federal law,” MacDonald wrote last week.

Many in the Republican Party now say a transformation is required.

“I think our identity for the past several years was built around an individual, we got to get back to where it’s built on a set of principles and ideas and policies,” South Dakota Sen. John Thune, the second-ranking Republican, said.

Former Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a long-time supporter of Trump who helped him prepare for debates with Biden, said Republicans must “separate message from messenger,” because “I don’t think the messenger can recover from yesterday.”

Repairing the damage done to America last week will take a renewal of the democratic principal of both sides working together to create a ‘more perfect union,” not tear us apart into warring camps.

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