What follows is my attempt, however limited, to make sense of what happened yesterday in this, our nation.
Understand, I am not a political scientist, nor do I have any unique expertise in American government. What follows is purely my own speculation. It is no more valid than yours, and may be less so. Yet, I feel the need to make some sort of sense of what has happened in my country, and what may happen shortly.
Basically, I believe that some weeks ago, Donald Trump realized that he had genuinely lost the popular and electoral votes and that he could not overturn results via the court system. Further, it became clear to him that he could not count on Vice President Pence to somehow magically disregard the results of the election and return him to the White House. He further realized that while his loyalists in Congress could obstruct the certification of the 2020 election results, they could not prevent Biden from becoming president.
Ergo, he decided on a remarkable gamble — not exactly a coup d’etat, nor a soft coup, but a sort of coup de theater. He would encourage his militants to come to Washington while at the same time organizing his supporters in the Senate and the House to object to the certification of the vote. Then, he made certain that there was almost no security at the Capitol.
Donald Trump's America
He then encouraged his Proud Boys et al to storm the Capitol, this to be done in co-ordination with the vote on certification. The result, he assumed, would be a Congress too cowed or confused to effectively certify the 2020 vote. This might, he thought, allow him to keep the White House for four more years, or even longer.
However, he made the classic error of those who fail in carrying out successful seizures of power — to wit, he had not actually obtained the active support of the people he thought he had in his corner. In particular, he did not have the support of the Department of Defense, even though the Acting Secretary of Defense Chris Miller was one of his appointments.
In addition, it seems the members of Congress upon whom he counted to legitimize his seizure of power were more opportunists than loyalists, and either did not know or did not expect that Trump’s plans included violence against Congress itself…that is, against them, personally.
So, when The Big Day came, the result was a fiasco. The Capitol building was duly stormed, but Acting Secretary Miller and the DOD declined to actively support the Putsch, which is another way of saying they passively opposed it. Indeed, as the day went on, and the things became increasingly unsettled, they moved into direct opposition by activating the National Guard …something which they did without consulting Trump himself.
Meanwhile, the Trumpian members of Congress who were supposed to be on the floor supporting the coup found themselves in real danger for the first time. The Deplorables who stormed the Capitol were as violent towards them as they were toward Liberals and Democrats. Suddenly, the whole business was no longer a game.
And thus the coup came to an abrupt end.
What happens next? Again, I’m only guessing. And my guess is only as good as yours. But…
I am assuming that prior to the coup attempt, Trump thought that even if it venture didn’t pan out, he would not be tarred by it. Somehow, he would wiggle free of its entanglements and emerge on the other side, apparently innocent of wrongdoing, or innocent enough, anyway, to avoid punishment.
I suspect, too, that he believed that if the coup failed, that wasn’t a problem particularly. He had plenty of time to think of a next move. After all, he is in office until January 20. That would give him plenty of opportunities to plan another coup attempt, or maybe something more brutal…say, a war with Iran, which would require him to stay in office…. “Stay the course,” and all that. “Can’t change the president in the middle of a war.” (Except people have done just that, and doubtlessly would again.)
But, I am guessing that this gamble has cost Trump more than he knows. He has alienated, now, not only the military, and the civil service, but also even many in the GOP who were perfectly willing to go along with the ride…until they found themselves facing armed men screaming for their blood. A few of his pet Congressmen, like the excretable Josh Hawley, may continue to follow orders, but others…
And maybe, just maybe, they’ll be willing to consider removing him from power…now…while there is still time…before he can cause more harm. I’ve heard rumors of invoking the 25th Amendment, or even a snap impeachment. And, I think, either of those would be a very good idea.
Still…I’m guessing that the Powers That Be will draw back from that fatal step. It’s just too dramatic. Too destabilizing. And governments do not thrive on a diet of instability. Well, competent ones, don’t. Trump’s was another matter.
So I’m guessing that what the Democrats and responsible Republicans in Congress will do is sort of ignore Mr. Trump. He’ll be president, but no one will listen to him. Government will be done by Pence or other members of the cabinet, or informally, by National Guard commanders, mayors, and police chiefs. Trump will still be the president, but no one will pay the slightest attention to him. He’ll huff and puff in whatever bunker he selects, but no houses of sticks or bricks will fall.
I still think that removable would be better, but maybe reducing him to impotence would hurt him almost as much.
And then, in just a few days, he will no longer be President even in name…he will be fair game…
And all the law suits and Federal Investigations that he’s evaded for so far will come after him…and his family…and his friends…
That, I believe, will be worth watching.
In all its horror and shame.
Until next time.
Onward and Upward.
P.S. Since I wrote this, there have been yet more developments. Trump has appeared on television pledging himself to a peaceful transfer of power. He is also said to be heading to Camp David. In other words, it looks like he’s being removed from the centers of government and isolated as much as possible.
Whether this will work remains…as they say…to be seen.