Are You Surprised?

Alan Zendell, January 6, 2021

If you are surprised by Wednesday’s insurrection in Washington, you shouldn’t be. If, even now, you’re waiting to see if Trump will finally step up and act responsibly, I’ll make it easy for you. He won’t. Not ever. He can’t, because the presidency is about doing the people’s work, not placing self-interest above everything else, and he is literally incapable of caring about anything but himself.

Are you surprised that the same president who rushed to send unidentified federal enforcers to Portland, Oregon to forcibly dispense a crowd of legal protesters who were peacefully demonstrating against police brutality sat on his hands for hours watching mobs in MAGA hats invade the Capitol? Are you surprised that although his justification for using storm troopers in Portland was the need to protect federal property, he didn’t consider the U. S. Capitol and the House and Senate Office buildings under siege worth defending? Are you surprised that our president who claims to be a champion of law enforcement remained silent while Capitol Police were being attacked by his supporters and called traitors? You shouldn’t be.

Are you surprised that when Trump finally, grudgingly released a recorded message to the mob suggesting that they go home so that they can have peace, most of his statement was a continuation of the lies and conspiracy theories he had used to incite the insurrection in the first place? Were you surprised that he told the out-of-control mob he loved them and they were special people?

Were you surprised when Rudy Giuliani rallied the mob to engage in armed combat and Donald Trump Jr. encouraged them to enjoy the havoc and destruction they caused? Did you ever think Donald Trump was capable of accepting defeat allowing a peaceful transfer of power? Did you really not believe today was inevitable, even necessary, the final act in his stress test of our democracy, so that even doubters would understand why someone like Trump can never be allowed to hold the power of the presidency again?

Here’s why you shouldn’t be surprised by any of this. It was the natural consequence of Mitch McConnell’s calculated decision to coddle and enable this president, because not doing so threatened McConnell’s agenda, and possibly even his re-election on the same 2020 ballot as Trump. Trump’s belief that he was untouchable, in which he was entirely correct, removed what limited boundaries he may have possessed when he took office.

After Trump’s refusal to condemn the neo-Nazi march through Charlottesville was cheered by his supporters and Fox News; after Robert Mueller, shackled by an Justice Department opinion that has never been tested in court, failed to recommend criminal charges against the president despite citing a dozen acts which violated the law; after Democrats foolishly impeached him knowing there was no chance McConnell’s caucus would convict him; after spreading ever more outrageous lies and dangerous claims about election fraud and receiving no pushback from even one of his supporters in the Senate, no other outcome was possible. Appeasing wannabe dictators who abuse their power instead of standing up to them always results in bad endings, sometimes including acts of war and genocide.

Trump has escalated his attacks on the fundamental institutions of our republic since he took office. There was never any reason to believe he would relent, never any reason to think enough would ever be enough. Nothing less than absolute control would ever satisfy our severely mentally ill president. As his term approached its end and Trump expected to lose the election, and therefore the legal protection of the presidency, he faced the prospect of dealing with massive debts and multiple jurisdictions gathering the evidence they needed to prosecute him for past crimes. He feels out of control and that makes him extremely dangerous.

The deliberate way the law enforcement agencies that protect D. C. handled the mob was impressive, despite the fact that their actions were described as an insurrection by former President George W. Bush. They reserved the use of force that could turn deadly as a last resort. But it was embarrassing for the world to see the Capitol Police Force so easily overwhelmed and the Capitol itself invaded and occupied by the raging, treasonous mob, and the tragedy of a woman being shot and killed.

The restraint demonstrated by law enforcement won’t last, and it shouldn’t. If the mob returns, especially if some of it is armed (carrying loaded firearms is a felony in the District) they will be met with a well-organized and prepared response. If further blood is shed, it will be on the head of Donald Trump. Added to the hundreds of thousands of deaths he caused by refusing to take COVID seriously, what’s a few more deaths? Does anyone think Trump cares?

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