Well there it is. Trump defense attorneys were well prepared and just made incredibly valid points supporting their claim that he should not be impeached by the senate for the capital siege. They are in the process of presenting countless examples of extremist calls for violence and uprisings by people on the left as a means to justify and defend Trump’s words and actions.
The unfortunate result will be a stalemate that leaves America ever more prone and vulnerable to further violence as the people on both sides fight amongst themselves for some kind of middle ground.
As someone who’s been in the center of large marches and protests all over the country for the last 25 years I will freely admit that yes we were always aware that we were primarily comprised of people either on the left or staunchly independent — it never occurred to us that Republicans would take to the streets. Activism and grass roots movements seemed to always belong to the radical left. It was a given. Taken for granted.
And though we never participated in any kind of violence or vandalism we were always keenly aware those activities followed grassroots movements around. We witnessed it constantly and always tried to dissuade others from doing it.
Yes the BLM movement was often punctuated by incessant violence throughout the summer. I personally expressed concern repeatedly on social media about us having to fall asleep to the sound of bombs and gunshots all night for months in NYC, and witnessed three men gun down another in the street right in front of me. A surreal and traumatizing event. Posted it to Instagram. Didn’t feel like it helped our mission.
After two and half decades active in mass change movements I have almost come to expect and accept that a little bit of violence and vandalism is a natural part of the path towards massive sociopolitical change in our culture.
Do I feel differently now that those on the right have suddenly woken up to discover the value of activism? Let me answer it this way: mid-summer I was so frustrated by and pissed off at elected officials on both sides of the aisle for not doing anything to pass stimulus quicker for the millions of Americans who were hurting, while corporations were receiving billions of aid, that I seriousky considered promoting a campaign of mass vandalism of banks, financial institutions and governmental buildings. I would be the first to do it to inspire others.
But before I acted I reached out to several trusted friends to ask them what they thought of my plan. They all encouraged me to NOT do it. They said I could achieve the same results and help express peoples’ discontent through cooler less violent means. More aligned with The Ambassador. So I didnt proceed. Looking back I am grateful for those friends and their sage advice.
And that’s where I come down in regards to the Right’s sudden discovery of street activism. Activists are notoriously smart. Intimidatingly so usually. I can tell you that personally from experience. They’re well read on the issues and well informed.
There were and are two distinct groups active for Black Lives Matter: one was the initial emotional RE-action of the mob, highlighted by quick impulses to commit violence vandalism and mayhem, a phenomenon we often see whenever humanity encounters events that are shocking and atrocious. The other was the more subdued and rational but resolute actions in the streets by the majority who chose to peacefully march chant and carry signs for months everyday to get the basic message across: Black Lives Matter.
The problem with the Trump supporters’ sudden foray into activism were multifold: what they were protesting was a lie. There was no stolen election. There was no underlying issue they were fighting for. They had been deceived and they hadn’t taken the time to research the issue itself. Secondly, their initial response was a primitive irrational and emotional rush to violence which ultimately killed 6 people.
Behind every street protest you see there is always a compound of insanely intelligent folks in rooms working the research, the phones, communicating with the media, honing and steering the message and the ship at large. They inform how those in the street act and what they do. They give intelligent data and direction to the people in the streets so it’s not just unplugged emotion and pandemonium.
The mob that stormed the capital on January 6th had no inteligencia posted in a room guiding them or giving them direction. If they had they wouldn’t have stormed the capital. They would have understood like the majority of Americans that there was no underlying issue to protest. They also would have chosen a safer, less violent, more intelligent and compassionate and more creative manner to express their dissent (had their dissent been in any way justifiable, which it wasn’t.)
Consider for a moment the massive Women’s Marches and Anti-Trump Marches we witnessed the week after the Trump inauguration in 2017. Both Princess little tree and I were in those marches. We were millions strong. All over the United States. No one got hurt. The issue was valid. The message was clear — we support women, immigrants, Muslims, Latinos and the LGBTQ community and we object to Trump’s policies that deny their rights. The spectacle was creative. The events were peaceful.
The marches and protests and activism exhibited by pro-Trump supporters over the last four year’s have been consistently plagued by violence ugliness and an underlying xenophobic racist and homophobic tone. It’s undeniable. It doesn’t imply that all republicans share those views. But the onus is on every single Republican to shake loose the stain that Trump has left on the party by his refusal to reject or denounce the actions taken in his name by these groups of misguided thugs.
The GOP will never again garner the respect of Americans or the world if it does not take this action decisively. And until such time those of us who’ve been in the trenches of grassroots activism for years will always look upon any attempt at activism by those on the right with fear and trepidation.
The goal of activism is a noble goal. The mission is founded in purity of heart, compassion, peace, intelligence; it is well thought out and it never resorts to violence. Most importantly it has an underlying issue it supports that it believes is vital. It is not blind. It is not a mob. It is never waged behind the false and incoherent ramblings of a madman or a sore loser spewing lies.
Regarding the senate impeachment hearing of Donald Trump, at this point it doesn’t matter what we believe one way or the other. Their defense team’s arguments have been enough for senate members on the right to feel safe and justified to vote no to impeaching.
Truth is we’ve been heading down a road of more and more violence in the streets from both sides. Both sides feeling justified. And both sides are justified in feeling “horrified” by what they’ve seen by those who they perceive as being “the enemy”.
The problem America may face after these proceedings is a shared feeling of righteous justification to incite further violence and insurrection in the streets and against our elected leaders and governmental seats nationwide. This is the big risk Republican lawmakers face. Through their fear of retribution by Trump supporters in their own party and through their cowardly desire to maintain their seats of power, their no votes may be viewed as condoning the barbarous acts of January 6th, inflicting an increase of violence on American life in the months and years to come.
If you ask me I believe we just barely escaped the worst outcomes after the disturbing attempts made by radicals on the right to threaten the lives and homes of elected officials as they tried to reverse the election results. In my humble opinion things never would have veered so far astray had those on the right not been lied to repeatedly about a “stolen election” by the president, or if he hadn’t repeatedly encouraged such behavior or even if he would have just chosen at some point to talk his supporters down for the sake and safety of the country.
I am reminded of that rally in ‘08 when a McCain supporter yelled out “Obama is an Arab islamic terrorist!” and an obviously disturbed McCain nobly spoke up and reprimanded the man saying “Hey hey we don’t say those kinds of things. That’s not true. It’s not true.” I was so proud to be American in that moment.
Unfortunately for all of us Trump was never able to embody the integrity decency or nobility of John McCain. And because of that unfortunate fact his supporters and the GOP itself has lost all memory of those once cherished values. Fortunately, Joe Biden seems to be cut from the same cloth as McCain and is now displaying for us all how valuable those values are. He embodies them.
The problem is that Trump never stepped up to the role of president to decry or denounce the barbarous acts taken in his name on January 6th. Instead he looked upon them with glee and enthusiasm. He praised those who perpetrated them, going so far as saying he loved them. He never spoke up to defend the constitution or the democratic ideals that govern us by simply announcing that the results of the election appear in all manner to be legitimate and that he humbly accepts the loss and encourages his supporters to do the same. He never acknowledged that Joe Biden is now the president.
Because of these unfortunate facts we may be facing an unparalleled escalation of violence in the streets and against public officials by rightwing extremists who still believe the big lie that Trump has never taken back. I must admit I am fearful for our president, for our Speaker, for the former Vice President and for anyone on either side who doesn’t happen to side with Trump or his murderous band of extremist thugs.
It is also for the above reasons that I believe that a good case can be made for the senate to impeach Trump and be perfectly justified. Forget whether he instigated or incited the siege on our nations capital. The real crux of his unforgivable and treasonous transgressions is that he stood by and did nothing while his supporters perpetrated the crimes.
And he never once had the integrity honor or even patriotism of a valid president to denounce their heinous actions on that day. We would expect no less from a president. And yet he couldn’t find within him an ounce of that courage or moral fiber to do what we all not only expect but need as a nation. That’s reason enough to impeach and convict the man. As sad as it may be for all of us, it is vital and necessary.