Bloody Wednesday: never again

What should Congress do?

Good morning, though it’s been a sleepless and prayer-filled nightmare.

Congress has completed its duty in grim unity. President-elect Joe Biden will be sworn in on January 20th at noon. President Trump, though his deputy chief of staff for communications, Dan Scavino, stated that though he objects to the election, “nevertheless there will be an orderly transition on January 20th.”

As I wrote over at The First, the thousands of MAGA folks who descended on the Capitol consider themselves patriots. The woman who was killed by Capitol Police, Ashli Babbitt, was a U.S. Air Force veteran. She and her husband run a pool supply company in Ocean Beach, California. She, along with most of the rest, was a hard-working, decent person who got caught up in our demagogue president’s message. She believed the “Flight 93 election” rhetoric, just like Trump does.

The basic problem with that rhetoric is that it always leads to violence and illegal actions. It undermines our republic, because it frames the fight as one of cultural survival. And to many of the MAGA folks, the fight will go on. Babbitt will become a martyr, and Trump will remain their leader, even out of office.

I am absolutely convinced, as we wrote earlier, that President Trump should resign or be removed from office. We are joined by so many others (the New York Times is filled with these calls), including Bret Stephens. Republican leaders and Trump’s cabinet are floating the idea of using the 25th Amendment. I think that would be the most appropriate way of Trump leaving office: defiant to the end.

The Republican Party, to survive, will need to defenestrate the Trumpists, in whole. They must be ejected along with their leader. But their concerns must not be ignored.

To move forward, Congress will have to deal with election reform. Democrats, who now control both chambers, will inevitably introduce legislation to repeal the 12th Amendment and replace it with a national popular vote. This would be a disaster for our nation, and should be universally opposed by conservatives. But I do think we need some kind of reform, some kind of federal guidance and oversight to prevent the absolute sh*t-show we had this year, with states scattering rules to the wind in every direction.

While you might think this is the messy way a federal republic should work, it’s obvious that it no longer works. Blaming Donald Trump, and him alone, for this failure, though tempting, isn’t going to stop it from happening again. There needs to be a more structured way of dealing with federal elections, especially the presidential election. Let there be some kind of “electoral math” here, because the founders were wise in including it, yet the procedures and processes by which the election is held need to be better coordinated, or we are doomed to have claims of suppression, corruption, and utter lunacy haunt us for decades.

The fallout from Trump’s claims, which echoed claims made by Stacey Abrams, perverted the runoffs held in Georgia and affected their results, suppressing Republican turnout. It, more than anything, is responsible for the outcome, and handing the Senate to Democrats. If Democrats use that result—tempting as it is for them—to ram their agenda down our throats, they are playing with fire.

At this point, Congress has only one mandate. That is, to ensure that Blood Wednesday never happens again. They can start with a two-thirds vote of each chamber to make Mike Pence Acting President for the next two weeks. Then they need to move on to the concerns of those who really believe the “Flight 93” story. When Joe Biden is sworn in, he needs to have more than just words to offer, being “our president.”

If Democrats, and Biden, fail to listen, they will reap the same carnage that Trump created.