Wednesday was maybe the most disheartening and embarrassing days in history for all of us as Americans. But, in the end, it was a day to be proud of.
In 1787, Ben Franklin was walking out of Independence Hall after the Constitutional Convention, when he was asked, “Doctor, what have we got? A republic or a monarchy?”
Franklin responded: “A republic, if you can keep it.”
We kept it. Within hours of the mob's debacle at the Capitol, the Congress met, and in what turned from one of the most partisan to bipartisan sessions in a long time, they quickly affirmed the 2020 election and began the traditional peaceful transfer of power.
A number of things from this week:
- Mike Pence rose above his loyalty to Trump and showed us his first loyalty is to his oath of office and the rule of law. And you can say that about the overwhelming number of those in the Congress, in business, and even many in the Trump administration.
- The 25th Amendment will not be invoked. If Trump had weeks or months to go, it might well be. With 12 days to go, it would be more trouble to invoke than it is worth. The House may well impeach Trump next week and I expect to see many fewer Republicans rising to his defense. The Senate doesn't have the time to hold a trial in order to convict before January 20th but a trial is still possible even after he leaves office. A conviction would prohibit him from ever running for president again.
- And, implementing the 25th Amendment, which calls for a majority of the cabinet to agree, is made more problematic with all of the cabinet vacancies including Justice, Defense, Transportation, and Education.
- Trump has been neutered. Mark my word, when the memoirs are written we will learn that Pence, the Secretary of State, the Joint Chief's, the FBI Director, and the Secretary of Homeland Security have reached an understanding about Donald Trump's last days. He is now in a box.
- During the mob takeover of the Capitol, Trump refused to directly authorize federal troops via the DC Guard while he watched the rampage on TV. Pence had to step in and go over Trump's head to get the troops on the Hill––probably illegally because only the President has that power, but necessary. It was the DC mayor and the governors of Maryland and Virginia that sent the first reinforcements.
- One of my biggest concerns in recent months was over whether we would have a vibrant two-party system with the Republicans in a virtual civil war split over what I expected would be Trump's ongoing domination of the party––maybe even as a viable presidential candidate in 2024.
- In spite of the Georgia Senate debacle for Republicans on account of Trump, that concern was only exacerbated as I heard Donald Junior at Wednesday's rally threaten to "primary" any Republican who voted to certify the election. That was the moment the Trump family was at their apex of political power in America.
- Less than two hours after that, Trump, and his family, were finished as major players in American politics in the wake of their mob's actions. Yes, Trump will still lead a marginalized bunch of the less than brightest bulbs on the tree and he may get himself a spot on one of the fringe cable TV networks, but what changed so dramatically for Trump and the Republican party is that Republican officeholders are no longer afraid of him.
- As Senators were still in shelter at an undisclosed location, Ted Cruz gathered the dozen Republican Senators who agreed to the election challenge and led them in deciding to halt it with the first state––Arizona––rather then do themselves more political damage.
- Only Missouri's Josh Hawley insisted on taking it to Pennsylvania but the vote on Arizona had already eroded to 93 to 6. Cruz and Hawley have done themselves huge political damage. Highly respected former Missouri Senator John Danforth was quoted as saying his very important support and mentoring of Hawley was the worst mistake he has ever made. Apparently, Republican House Leader McCarthy, and the more than 100 House Republicans who still voted not to certify the election, are a little slow on the uptake.
- Will there be consequences for the mob participants? Not only is the FBI in hot pursuit of the people they are identifying, there has been a ground swell of activity from private social media wonks outing the participants. A number of them have been identified by these folks and many have already lost their jobs and are being held to account by their local media.
- Trump will now have some very serious business problems. What corporation will schedule their next meeting at a Trump resort? Which bank will support this already money losing business? Why should foreign business leaders take him seriously? Which mainstream network will have anything to do with him or his family?
- Look for Trump to finish his time in the White House by pardoning himself, his family, and his cronies for any future indictments. But a federal pardon won't help him with the likes of the New York state attorney general hot on his trail over fraud concerns.
Our foreign critics enjoyed watching the debacle on the Hill.
What the world should be paying attention to is that the great American experiment in democracy, in the space of a few hours, finally had enough, rose up, and rid itself of a demagogue holding the most powerful office in the nation who thought he was bigger than our republic.
Be proud. We kept it.