Alan Zendell, December 3, 2020
As the nation counts down the days until Joe Biden’s inauguration as president, we have a tendency to relax. As Trump’s baseless lawsuits continue to be thrown out of court, we want to believe each defeat brings us a step closer to the end. If we had a rational leader who took his oath of office seriously, rather than as a blank check to enrich himself and behave in any manner he wants to, it might be reasonable to believe that.
Whatever Trump is, he is not a rational leader who cares about the American people. He has his own agenda at all times, with the consistent thread that every decision he makes is designed to increase his personal wealth and power. He never stops clawing, fighting, lying, and cheating, with no regard for the collateral damage he causes. To those who still believe he will cease and desist, and accept the will of the voters, I say, “Wake up!” If he has made anything clear during his five-and-a-half-year tenure as a politician it is that he recognizes nothing as excessive. He knows no limits.
In 2016, Republicans continually underestimated the depths to which he would stoop to get what he wanted. Many of them knew what they were dealing with, but they lacked the will and courage to organize an attempt to stop the Trump juggernaut in the 2016 primaries. When he was elected, we were told to wait and see. Trump would surely not govern the way he campaigned. But every time we thought we’d hit bottom with a president who had no respect for the Constitution, who indirectly cheered on right-wing extremists, and who refused to listen to experts when hard decisions had to be made, we were wrong. Trump only got worse.
He will not stop claiming the election was rigged until the Republican Congressional leadership forces him to, and as long as those people we like to refer to as “moderate” Republican Senators are unwilling to break ranks and challenge Mitch McConnell, that will not happen. They’ve been called craven cowards, but there’s a better way to describe them. They are people who crave power and influence whose only priority at every turn during Trump’s administration was assuring their own re-election. Fear of Trump’s base made it game over for any chance of keeping him in line.
Now Trump is playing with a different and far more dangerous kind of fire. He never directly encourages his supporters to take up arms to defend his paranoid reality, but in every indirect way possible he does exactly that. It was only after Republican election officials who received death threats for following the law spoke out publicly that Trump was forced to issue an empty statement condemning violence.
Today, recently pardoned Lt. General Michael Flynn joined forces with the right-wing “We The People Convention” (I hate the perversion of those words) who demanded that Trump declare martial law and order a new election to be supervised by the military. If he refuses, they and General Flynn threaten Civil War. Joint Chiefs Chairman Mark Milley immediately rejected the idea, calling it insane.
If these far-right groups staged an armed insurrection, the army and National Guard would make mincemeat of them. But that’s not the point. These people are capable of causing mayhem and death. They won’t win, but in losing, especially in the middle of a pandemic with a teetering national economy, they can severely damage the nation.
That kind of talk is treason. To the extent that Donald Trump looks away and refuses to specifically condemn these groups and order them to stand down, he too is guilty of treason. In case you forgot, for anyone but the president, treason is a capital crime. In most countries, leaders who advocate insurrection against the established order are removed by coup and either exiled or executed.
We don’t do either here; we have a better way to make this madness stop. Vice President Pence claims to be a moral Christian. He has sucked up to Trump without exception, making many wonder if he has any Christian virtues left. It’s tough for an ambitious politician to navigate the fine line between what is best for himself and his responsibility to his constituents. It’s useless to appeal to Trump’s better nature – he doesn’t have one. If Pence does, now is the time to act. The remedy is right there in the constitution.
Pence has the power, with the support of Trump’s Cabinet, to declare him incapable of serving as president and designating him a clear and present danger to the nation by invoking the 25th Amendment. Trump is out of control, an angry, spiteful child who can wield massive destructive power. Now is the time, Mr. Pence. If you’re worried about your political future, perhaps your best course is showing some balls. The country might even hail you as a hero.