How To Begin Healing and Moving On

Republicans claim to be the party of morality and personal responsibility, yet Republican members of Congress are already insisting that Democrats let bygones be bygones. They say that holding our criminal president accountable for the insurrection by removing him from office would only antagonize the rabid, radical right, i.e. millions of Republican voters, which would lead to more violence. Fortunately, a few Congressional Republicans have announced they support impeachment, not appeasement.

Jennifer Rubin of The Washington Post argues that there are several ways to unify the nation and begin healing:

The furniture the seditionists smashed in the Capitol has not yet been repaired. The trauma inflicted on those who experienced the event will not vanish for months or years. . . . And neither President Txxxx nor a single Republican lawmaker who held aloft the sedition banner in Congress by objecting to electoral votes has apologized. Nevertheless, Republicans are calling for unity and demanding healing, which entails “moving on” and forgetting about impeachment. . . .

Sorry, it does not work that way. Healing requires accountability and remorse from those who attacked our democracy, stormed the Capitol (or incited, funded or supported the mob) and set out to overthrow our democracy. The culprits do not get to set the timeline for reconciliation before they can be held responsible for their participation in an attempted coup.

Lots of things would be unifying or provide healing. Let’s start with these:

  • The House and Senate could unanimously affirm there was no irregularity or fraud in the election that would have changed the outcome of the presidential vote one iota.

  • The House could impeach Trump, and the Senate could come back in session to hold a trial and remove him swiftly.

  • House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who pulled his caucus over the cliff in the desperate hope to maintain the Big Lie and cater to Trump, could resign.

  • A combination of Democrats and all Republicans who voted to certify the electoral college results in the House and Senate could expel or censure members who objected to certification. As my colleague Michael Scherer writes, “The central question now hovering over America’s political landscape is whether one of its two major parties will allow itself to function as an extension of QAnon and other online conspiracy theory movements that have taken hold with a vocal segment of the GOP, or if it can emerge from the Txxxx era as a potential governing coalition built around ideas and some shared agreement on facts.” This action would help settle that question.

  • Corporate donors could permanently cut off support for anyone who objected to the electoral votes, an attack on our democracy.

  • Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms could volunteer to make entirely transparent how they “curate content” and how their “algorithms decide what speech to amplify,” as Yaël Eisenstat, a former Facebook executive, suggests. We should find out how they “nudge users towards the content that will keep them engaged … [and] connect users to hate groups, who recommend conspiracy theorists.” The companies could also agree to follow the guidelines recommended by the Stop Hate for Profit campaign headed by the Anti-Defamation League and major corporate advertisers.

  • A nonpartisan commission could determine the extent to which state and federal law enforcement has been infiltrated by adherents of violent extremist groups. (The Post reports, “At least two U.S. Capitol Police officers have been suspended and more than a dozen others are under investigation for suspected involvement with or inappropriate support for the Wednesday demonstration that turned into a deadly riot at the Capitol, according to two congressional officials briefed on the developments.”)

  • Right-wing media outlets, pundits, talk-show personalities and TV hosts who perpetrated the lie that there was widespread election fraud could retract their statements and affirm there is no factual basis for these assertions.

  • The voters in the 18 states whose attorneys general filed a brief to throw out other states’ electoral votes could recall or vote out these officials.

That should be enough to get us started. Beyond that, there are many good ideas for enhancing civics education, media literacy and access to voting on a permanent basis (e.g., pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act; make available universal, secure voting by mail). You can never have too much healing.

Unquote.

Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee today released a 70-page document, “Materials in Support of H. Res. 24, Impeaching Donald John Trump, President of the United States, for High Crimes and Misdemeanors”. It says “Impeachment is not a punishment of prior wrongs, but a protection against future evils” (which would include Donnie being president again).

The third-ranking House Republican, the ultra-conservative Liz Cheney, released a statement:

Much more will become clear in coming days and weeks, but what we know now is enough. The President of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack. Everything that followed was his doing. None of this would have happened without the President. The President could have immediately and forcefully intervened to stop the violence. He did not. There has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.

I will vote to impeach the President.

Also today:

The acting US attorney for the District of Columbia, Michael Sherwin, has indicated that many amid the hundreds of pro-Txxxx rioters who violently invaded the US Capitol  . . .  are suspected in a “mind-blowing” range of crimes, including felony murder and sedition and conspiracy.

There are at least 160 federal criminal cases open. [He said the FBI and other agencies] are ready to track down individuals all across the country, apprehend them wherever possible and arrest hundreds if not thousands of people.

“The range of criminal conduct was unmatched,” Sherwin said. He warned lawbreakers “You will be charged and you will be found.”

Yes, let the healing begin!

It’s Time To Be Divisive

Deutsche Bank announced it will no longer do business with our criminal president. It’s a divisive decision, creating a division between their business and one of their customers. A number of big corporations have decided to divide themselves from Republican lawmakers who rejected the presidential election. They’re no longer giving them money for their political campaigns. Sometimes we need to draw clear lines between us and them. From Jamelle Bouie of The New York Times:

The Republican Party has devised its response to the push to impeach the president over his role in the attack on the Capitol last week, and it is so cynical as to shock the conscience.

“Now the Democrats are going to try to remove the president from office just seven days before he is set to leave anyway,” said Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, who voted with 146 other Republicans in Congress not to accept the results of the 2020 presidential election. “I do not see how this unifies the country.”

The House minority leader, Kevin McCarthy, also said that impeaching the president “will only divide our country more.”

“As leaders, we must call on our better angels and refocus our efforts on working directly for the American people,” McCarthy said in a statement given two days after he also voted not to accept the results of a free and fair election in which his favored candidate lost. . . .

I’m reminded, here, of one particular passage from Abraham Lincoln’s 1860 address at Cooper Union in Manhattan, in which he criticized the political brinkmanship of Southern elites who blamed their Northern opponents for their own threats to break the union over slavery.

But you will not abide the election of a Republican president! In that supposed event, you say, you will destroy the Union; and then, you say, the great crime of having destroyed it will be upon us! That is cool. A highwayman holds a pistol to my ear, and mutters through his teeth, “Stand and deliver, or I shall kill you, and then you will be a murderer!”

There are a handful of Senate Republicans, like Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, who are open to impeachment. But much of the Republican response is exactly this kind of threat: If you hold President Trump accountable for his actions, then we won’t help you unify the country.

Or, as another Republican, Representative Kevin Brady of Texas, said on Twitter,

Those calling for impeachment or invoking the 25th Amendment in response to President Trump’s rhetoric this week are themselves engaging in intemperate and inflammatory language and calling for action that is equally irresponsible and could well incite further violence.

These cries of divisiveness aren’t just the crocodile tears of bad-faith actors. They serve a purpose, which is to pre-emptively blame Democrats for the Republican partisan rancor that will follow after Joe Biden is inaugurated next week. It is another way of saying that they, meaning Democrats, shot first, so we, meaning Republicans, are absolved of any responsibility for our actions. If Democrats want some semblance of normalcy — if they want to be able to govern — then the price for Republicans is impunity for Trump.

House Democrats have already introduced their resolution to impeach the president, formally charging President Trump with “incitement of insurrection” for his role in the attack on the Capitol. There is still a ways to go in this process, but it is a stronger start than I expected. But there may still be some hesitation about taking the most aggressive stance, as evidenced by Majority Whip James Clyburn’s proposal to hold off on a trial until after the first 100 days of the Biden administration.

This would be a mistake.

There is no way past this crisis — and yes, we are living through a crisis — except through it. The best way to push forward is as aggressively as possible. Anything less sends the signal that this moment isn’t as urgent as it actually is. And as we move closer to consequences for those responsible, we should continue to ignore the cries that accountability is “divisive.” Not because they’re false, but because they’re true.

Accountability is divisive. That’s the point. If there is a faction of the Republican Party that sees democracy itself as a threat to its power and influence, then it has to be cut off from the body politic. It needs to be divided from the rest of us, lest it threaten the integrity of the American republic more than it already has. Marginalizing that faction — casting Txxxx and Txxxxism into the ash heap of history — will be divisive, but it is the only choice we have.

This does not mean we must cast out the 74 million Americans who voted for the president, but it does mean we must repudiate the lies, cruelty and cult of personality on which Txxxx built his movement. It means Republicans have to acknowledge the truth — that Joe Biden won in a free and fair election — and apologize to their voters and to the country for helping to stoke the madness that struck at the Capitol.

The alternative is a false unity that leaves the wound of last Wednesday to fester until the infection gets even worse than it already is.