I’m glad we kept this guy.
It’s hard to write about yesterday’s events over my overwhelming disgust. What can one say? The clownishness and absurdity of yesterday’s desecration doesn’t diminish its horror.
I think the comparison to Hitler’s Beer Hall Putsch is apt; and remember no one took him seriously in 1923.
Hitler drew important practical lessons from the failed putsch. First, he understood that the Nazi movement could not destroy the Republic by direct assault without support from the Army and police.
It sure sounds like the police were less than completely hostile to the MAGA occupation of the seat of democracy. But no matter, the call was coming from inside the House: There are 147 Republicans in Congress who voted to overturn the election. If there were more of them, the coup would have succeeded. Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri is making un-subtle support of a coup his political calling card, his ticket to the White House in 2024.
The right wing has freaked out at any Democratic victory for as long as I can remember — certainly since 1992, where Clinton’s victory was regarded by the right (and its media enablers) as a usurpation, not an ordinary transfer of power. There is a sizable chunk of America that no longer believes in any kind of democracy — the rules of the game, the sense of fairness and justice that we all live by. You can say it’s as old as the Republic; you can say it’s only 55 years old (since the Voting Rights Act). You could also say that the Supreme Court itself, certainly its Chief Justice, doesn’t believe in democracy.
In thinking of Trump’s many Republican enablers … I’m reminded also of our neighbors to the north, who in their wisdom saw fit to return Susan Collins to the Senate. In the moment that will define her well beyond the six long years of her new term, Collins had said that Trump had “learned his lesson” in being impeached. To Maine voters: I’m sure Senator Collins is a “known quantity”; but like stale bread, it should be changed out from time to time. I hope you outgrow your blithe parochialism. It hurt the country yesterday.
I never would have imagined that Mitt Romney would be an example of courage. It is a recent development. And yet here he stands. He has been harassed on planes by Trump supporters. It actually requires more courage for Romney to take his position in Utah, than for Markey to make his stand in Massachusetts. (That is not at all to slight Markey — only to note that at least he is in agreement with his constituents.)
The best way we can show respect for the voters who are upset, is by telling them the truth!
A Republic, if you can keep it.
Your comparison to the Beer Hall Putsch is apt. I’m not sure our BMG community appreciates how terrifying yesterday’s riot was for my German-born wife. How do I reassure her while the terrorist who sat in Nancy Pelosi’s chair and vandalized her office trumpets his actions in the media without apparent consequence? A sitting member of the West Virginia House of Delegates brags that he was PART OF the attack — without consequences.
The most terrifying aspect of yesterday’s events for her and me was the complicity of uniformed authorities. Members of the Capitol Police were actually taking selfies with the terrorists! There are eyewitness accounts of Capitol Police officers moving barriers aside and actually helping terrorists up the marble stairs.
I have absolutely zero doubt that if a similar-sized crowd of angry black men and women had done what these terrorists did yesterday, there would have been an ocean of blood. Troops would have opened up with machine gun fire to prevent yesterday’s assault. When was the last time a Secret Service detail failed to open fire on an intruder breaching the fence at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue? I grew up just outside Washington DC., the US Capitol is just as familiar to me as the dome of our State House in downtown Boston. It is UNIMAGINABLE to me that this could happen without prior planning.
I do not believe that yesterday’s successful invasion of the U.S. Capitol could have occurred without the explicit approval of the several agencies charged with providing security.
We’ll hear expressions of shock and astonishment from all the usual sources when it is revealed a few days or weeks from now that staff for Mr. Trump, the GOP insurrectionists in Congress, and the Capital Police have been planning yesterday’s events for at least days or weeks. The New York Times said, in a headline this morning, that Donald Trump “practically circled the date” in speeches leading up to yesterday.
Each and every person identifiable in the multitude of images collected yesterday needs to be tracked down and held accountable. This crowd was overwhelmingly white — automated facial recognition software should work just fine in spite of its inaccuracies with people of color.
These criminals needed to be arrested, prosecuted, and jailed RIGHT NOW — starting with the terrorists who stormed the building, and going all the way up to the terrorist currently occupying the Oval Office.
There were in fact dozens of arrests and I hope you are not advocating a form of justice that is too swift for due process. Politifact has a very different interpretation of law enforcement behavior yesterday than you do.
Washington DC police told the media, after complaints about the lack of security, that there 68 arrests for curfew violations overnight. I’ve seen reports of 10-20 arrests during the siege itself.
I’m saying the security fence around the U.S. Capitol should be protected in a similar fashion to the similar fence around the White House.
I actually have about the same interpretation as that of your politifact link.
The closing paragraphs of your link are significant (emphasis mine):
People who breach the fence around the White House are ordered to stop. There is enough space that attempts to physically stop them are made. If those attempts fail, and the intruder attempts to enter the White House, the intruder is shot.
Can you please explain why the security for a joint session of the House and Senate and the Vice President (and his family) should be less secure than that around the White House?
Like Van Jones on CNN, I am appalled by the gross disparity between the way BLM protesters are treated and the kid glove treatment of these White Supremacist insurrectionists.
Law enforcement agencies knew this was coming for WEEKS. I have a very hard time believing that the completely unacceptable lapse of security was not intentional and planned. You are asking me to believe that the Capital Police, Secret Service, city police, and National Guard — in a COORDINATED plan — did not anticipate that a few thousand people might attempt to storm the perimeter. I suspect that these events transpired very much as these agency “coordinators” expected them to.
In the anti-war protests of 1969, DC police arrested more than FIFTEEN THOUSAND protesters and transported them to DC Stadium. They were, of course, released by judges in short order.
My point is that authorities have been dealing with huge protests — MUCH larger than this — for centuries. This is the first time, since 1814, that the building has been breached.
I am advocating whatever is necessary to stop ANYONE from threatening the very lives of our elected officials.
I agree things could have been better, but I’ll need evidence that law enforcement conspired to make it easy on the mob (and as the Politifact item points out the pictures we’ve seen don’t tell the whole story). The chief of the Capitol Police and the House Sergeant-at-arms have now resigned. I look forward to the inquiries which I believe I have heard Pelosi, Schumer, and McConnell have all called for. From what I recall from when I hung out more on Capitol Hill the security on the grounds focused on keeping vehicles from getting too close and the buildings had airport style security. I suspect there is some sentiment based on the philosophy of our government that the Capitol where the people’s representatives meet should be more accessible than the White House.
Larry Hogan, the Republican Governor of MD, is all over MSNBC this evening saying that he wanted to send in the MD National Guard, and was blocked from doing so by the acting Secretary of Defense — who would not take his repeated calls.
A retired general who has handled inauguration security in the past was on the Brian Williams 11:00pm report. He pointed out that troops can be mobilized separately from being deployed. He was appalled that national guard and FBI forces were not mobilized in anticipation early in the day, so that they could be deployed in minutes rather than hours. He pointed out reports that various Pentagon and FBI officials asked Capitol Police if they needed help, and were told that no help was needed.
The word that guest used was “complicity” — he said that he believes that “45” was complicit in an active conspiracy to enable the invasion of the U.S. Capitol.
I too eagerly await the various investigations into this lapse.
Of course. Joint sessions with the Vice President in attendance are very rare. I assure you that Washington DC is very well accustomed to a much-heightened security perimeter around the Capitol building during special times like inaugurations.
The other somewhat ironic (and possibly flat-out cynical rear end covering) explanation I’ve heard suggested is that they did not use the fullest possible force precisely because they did not want a repeat of scenes from the BLM protests of law enforcement overreaction.
When I worked at the State Department six summers after 9:12, the Capitol was a fortress you needed tickets to get near. I am not sure if that changed after the visitors center was open, I do recall being able to climb the steps near on the side where the Grant statue is, but not to get inside the building or near to windows.
We need a top to bottom review of who failed and why. The Capitol Police lost one of their own officers, and usually when a person (especially a black person or Muslim) kills a law enforcement officer, people clamour for the death penalty. I oppose the death penalty, but I do think we need to throw the book at anyone responsible for that officers death including the politicians who ultimately incited this mob. All five deaths are on Trump’s hands and Josh Hawley’s in my opinion. No lies about losing the election leading to a pressure for objections, no objections from a Senator, no riot, nobody dies.
Trickle up says
Grudging props to Romney. (No mask, though.)
I expect the hard core to regroup. This is after all a cult. “Antifa did it” will be the new “voter fraud.”
They can’t be stopped now, but important to take votes and take names for later. A second impeachment and trial in the senate could be useful for that purpose alone.
Utah votes very GOP when given a choice, but they have been less pro-Trump on spec than some places.
Sen. Warren was also very good in this regard, but I believe her remarks that I saw were during “Morning Business” rather than the official debate.
Sen. Markey fell into the historical fallacy which has become popular on the left, but is a pet peeve of mine as a historian that the electoral college is about racism. That said I find abolition even more urgent because this year has shown how much you can try to manipulate it state by state.
Explicitly restricting voting to property-owning males wasn’t racist (and sexist)?
Yeah, I know. It doesn’t say “white”, so it’s not racist. If you tried to push that on a child of mine, I’d be in front of the school committee complaining about you pushing your personal beliefs as “history”.
Did you perhaps mean “abortion”? I suspect there’s some humor in that particular slip, if so. Although who knows, I guess “abolition” works just as well.
Well, second thing first – I did mean abolition, as in getting rid of, the electoral college. I see no connection in this discussion to terminating a pregnancy or any election procedures.
You are conflating a couple of things regarding presidential electors. My argument, which being very familiar with the constitutional text and the debates surrounding creation and ratification absolutely stand by, is that the system bequeathed to us by the Framers to choose our President is not per se grounded in racism. The thought experiment would be can you imagine this system being in place even in a monoracial society without slavery. I for one absolutely can in 1787.
The Electoral College (which we’ll call it despite never being so named in the Constitution) was actually thrown together very late in the Federal Convention, having been put aside because the delegates couldn’t figure out how to elect a President. (One way you can tell it was haphazard is this was one of the first things that had to be tweaked by constitutional amendment.) They knew for sure that they did not want either Congressional or direct popular election, the former because they did not want the President beholden to them like a Prime Minister and the latter because in 1787 there was no way most people could make an educated choice. They created a body that was only charged with this election and forbade members of Congress from participating, a prohibition that still holds.
More than the slave/free tension in Philadelphia was the large/small tension. The three large states at the time were MA, PA, and VA – a free state, gradual emancipation state, and a slave state respectively. Representation in Congress was of course resolved by the House being by population and the Senate equally among states. For the Electoral College they simply added the Senators to the Representatives, which had the effect of making the EC basically based on population, but with a thumb on the scale in favor of small states. Yes, the House was impacted by the 3/5 clause and therefore so was the EC, but that was incidental to the EC itself. One way that could make the EC more representative today would be to enact the Wyoming Rule tying apportionment to the smallest state and thus expand the House by several seats.
Regarding voting rights it’s important to remember that nobody’s voting rights are enshrined in the original Constitution, not even propertied white men, and especially not for presidential electors. The Constitution punts on this question for the House saying that the franchise shall be the same as for the most numerous branch of the state legislature (and extended to the Senate via the 17th amendment), which was determined by the state legislature. Technically that’s still the case except that amendments forbid denial on account of race, color, sex, age 18+, or failure to pay any fees or taxes. Electors don’t have to be chosen popularly at all though every state has decided to do that. In early years other methods were used, but just prior to the Civil War South Carolina (figures!) was the last holdout to switch. Nothing about the EC ever required states to limit the franchise. I am in no way suggesting the universal suffrage did not leave something to be desired in the early years, but I AM saying such restrictions were neither cause nor effect of the Electoral College.
I meant to also point out that there is nothing in the Constitution that requires states to allocate their electoral votes on a winner-take-all basis, but that is the biggest problem with the EC in terms of distorting the will of the people.
I appreciate your clarification. I grew in a MD suburb of Washington DC. The Civil War dominates the history of that area in the same way that the Revolution dominates ours here in MA. That’s one of the reasons I’ve always felt more at home here. I grew up spending days at Harpers Ferry the same way my children grew up spending days at the Old North Bridge.
I therefore grew up in culture where the word “abolition”, standing on its own as a political issue (as you used it in your original comment) always means the abolition of slavery.
I agree with you that allocating electoral votes by proportion of the popular vote will be a huge improvement on what we have.
Fundamentally, though, I support Mr. Markey’s approach.
Well I certainly hope we are not still debating the abolition of slavery. Sorry for the confusion about the context.
I’ve been on a bit of a Civil War kick lately and have passed the time watching videos on the American Battlefield Trust website, which includes some Rev War and 1812 material as well.
I’ve probably spent as much time at Antietam, Bull Run, and Gettysburg as I have at Concord, Lexington, and Bunker Hill. I’m surprised how few people know that Arlington National Cemetery is sited on land that Robert E. Lee acquired through marriage — it originally belonged to George Washington Parke Custis, an adopted son of George Washington who was also a grandson of Martha Washington.
My parents and grandparents are buried at Arlington.
The deep wounds of that insurrection have festered for more than 150 years. I will go to my grave believing that the decision to pardon ex-Confederates was a huge mistake that enabled the “Lost Cause” narrative and has been a huge contributor to the most toxic aspects of today’s GOP.
Yeah, I thought the Lee-Arlington connection was common knowledge as well. After all, his mansion overlooks the Kennedy gravesites (and, I must say provides IMO the most spectacular view of the Mall from its front yard). I’ve considered writing a diary here on the weaponization of history which frankly both left and right have been known to engage in. The left acts as if the USA has done nothing right and the right seems to think we have done nothing wrong. As with many things in life the most accurate information lies somewhere in the middle.
I think Christopher is right that the intent behind the Electoral College compromise at the time of the founding was legitimately a compromise between small and large states, including some that were free and some that were slaveholding. I think the reason Sen. Markey and Tom call it racist is that when combined with the separate 3/5th’s Compromise, it distorted both the House and Senate (and by extension) the electoral college to benefit slave owning states to the detriment of free ones.
One of the difficult parts of teaching 9th grade civics as a first year white teacher in a mostly
black school was explaining why from an abolitionists standpoint-which our Commonwealth’s delegation was at the time-it was the South that wanted slaves to count as 5/5ths and later 4/5ths of a person since they wanted to inflate their voting power and the North that wanted slaves to count as 0/5ths since they were not citizens. Of course the idea that any person could be considered property in the first place is an abomination beyond the pale.
Lastly what the founders feared most when created the Electoral College, being students of Roman history, was that a populist demagogue would ride in on his horse and become an American Caesar. They thought the cooling saucer of an indirectly elected Senate and the additional layer of protection from democracy that the electors provided would mitigate against this.
Perhaps the first contingent election where Congress nullified the will of the people in 1824 is an example, although that populist figure came back to win two more terms as President, ignore the Supreme Court and destroy the banking system before ultimately returning to his farm. Ironically it is the people who had the wisdom not to do this in 2016 and 2020, while the electors and sadly too many representatives senators wanted to overrule the people’s will to install that demagogue last week alongside a violent mob.
The Electoral College like many examples of structural racism in this country is race blind in theory and racist in practice. At present it overweights the values of rural white voters and undervaluing the urban voters and voters of color. Proportionality would solve much of this, but is unlikely to pass and adds even more complexity where Occam’s razor would just say a direct election is the simplest and easiest way of solving this problem.
Don’t forget the 3/5 compromise was also about taxation. The thought at the time was that states would be taxed according to their wealth and population, and the original Constitution forbade direct taxation. Both sides wanted it both ways – the South to count slaves for representation but not taxation, and the North the other way around. The compromise was to count them as 3/5 for both purposes. Just as a side note, this only applied to the enslaved population. Free blacks counted fully for representation and not considered anyone’s property for taxation purposes despite in most cases not being able to vote.
As for teaching your students I would counsel that while it is OK to empathize with their feelings of discomfort over slavery, try not to let emotion get in the way of the facts. Emotional history is why it has taken forever to calm hot spots like the Holy Land, Northern Ireland, the former Yugoslavia, and Kashmir; it even prevents us from getting completely over our own hangover from a war that is now 155 years in the rearview mirror. It’s just the way it was and not the fault of anyone currently living. When I mentioned above that both sides weaponize history one way the left seems to like to do it is with a healthy dose of the presentism bias. It is imperative IMO not to see the past through the mores of the present. If you do lead discussions on this, use primary sources as there are certainly plenty of people who believed slavery was wrong at the time and were not shy about saying so.