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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

What are the Best Reponses to Trump’s Goon Riot?

In “Impeach and Convict. Right Now. Trump is too dangerous to leave in office for even another minute,” New York Times columnist Bret Stephens writes: “The duty of the House of Representatives and the Senate, once they certify Joe Biden’s election, is to reconvene, Wednesday night if possible, to impeach the president and then remove him from office and bar him from ever holding office again….To allow Trump to serve out his term, however brief it may be, puts the nation’s safety at risk, leaves our reputation as a democracy in tatters and evades the inescapable truth that the assault on Congress was an act of violent sedition aided and abetted by a lawless, immoral and terrifying president.”

From the Washington Post editorial Board: “The president is unfit to remain in office for the next 14 days. Every second he retains the vast powers of the presidency is a threat to public order and national security. Vice President Pence, who had to be whisked off the Senate floor for his own protection, should immediately gather the Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment, declaring that Mr. Trump is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.” Congress, which would be required to ratify the action if Mr. Trump resisted, should do so. Mr. Pence should serve until President-elect Joe Biden is inaugurated on Jan. 20….Now that the stakes are viscerally clear, Mr. McConnell and every other Republican, almost all of whom bear some blame for what occurred on Wednesday, have an overriding responsibility to the nation: stopping Mr. Trump and restoring faith in democracy….The highest voice in the land incited people to break that faith, not just in tweets, but by inciting them to action. Mr. Trump is a menace, and as long as he remains in the White House, the country will be in danger.”

Law profesors David Landau and Rosalind Dixon write in a New York Times op-ed,”First, Vice President Pence and a majority of the cabinet should invoke Section 4 of the 25th Amendment in order to make a declaration that Mr. Trump is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.” This would immediately suspend, but not remove, Mr. Trump from the exercise of his presidential duties and appoint Mr. Pence as acting president. The 25th Amendment would not and should not be used as a lasting solution in a case of this kind, but rather as a temporary measure to sideline a demonstrably unfit and dangerous actor who is fueling anti-democratic action….Second, the House should quickly draw up and pass articles of impeachment. And then the Senate should hold a fair — but immediate and efficient — trial both to remove President Trump from office and, as important, to disqualify him from serving in public office in the future….A public vote and rapid trial in the Senate would give much-needed legitimacy to actions to remove Mr. Trump from office. By forcing Republicans to stand up for democracy and against the president’s actions, it would also reaffirm bipartisan support for the fundamental principles of American democracy. Further, while the 25th Amendment is intended mainly for illness or other objective incapacities, impeachment offers an appropriate moral response to the president’s conduct, including incitement to violence and attacks on basic democratic norms.”

But anyone who expects the machinery of the 25th Amendment to work in time to prevent further Trump atrocities should read “Senior officials have discussed removing Trump under the 25th Amendment. Here’s how that could work” by Tim Elfrink at The Washington Post. Still, congress should take both steps to stand firm for the principles of legal accountability, no matter how long it takes. Congress should also do whatever they can to establish accountability for the security failures on the part of the capitol police administrators. Strong security measures to protect the inauguration should be put in place. Meanwhile, what can ordinary citizens do? Capture photos and videos of the rioters breaking the law and post them, so their employers will at least know who they are paying. Demand that they be arrested and charged with violations of the law. Going forward, continue to photograph Trump’s goons breaking the law and post their photos. Contact members of congress and senators and demand they stand up for accountability for the riots. Call for expulsion of members of congress and the senate who voted against certification of the Electoral College vote. Consider boycotts of corporate donors to these members of congress and the senate.

One comment on “What are the Best Reponses to Trump’s Goon Riot?

  1. Victor on

    Democrats need to tackle Federalism and not just culture or economics

    Democrats need to take seriously the distinct risks of the diverse strains of right wing philosophy that animate everything from Republican candidates to armed “militias”.

    a) These strains include libertarianism which is a dangerous utopian ideology that can only be implemented in modern times via totalitarianism and dismantling democracy. It is dominant among elected officials (and, more importantly, donors) even though it is not that popular among the electorate.

    b) It does not include conservatism as there are no longer any important conservative leaders. The few conservatives that aren’t greedy libertarians have already switched sides.

    c) The strain of white supremacy can’t be tackled because it can’t be reasoned with.

    d) With many dominionist “Christians” this is also the case, they oppose the rule of law as they see the law subordinated to their interpretation of the Bible and have a totally warped sense of US constitutional history.

    e) But the strains related to originalism, federalism and the 2nd amendment and the role of the militia need to be tackled head on.

    f) Finally we have economic populists and nationalists. Democrats can easily make common cause with these but they don’t aren’t institutionally organized inside the right and don’t have any funding from donors.

    Trump represented the potential of the economic populists and nationalists but ended up governing substantively too much in favor of the other strains and endangered democracy due to his abuse of support from the “originalism, federalism and the 2nd amendment and the role of the militia” crowd.

    The risks these strains represent include everything from systematic obstruction of both governance and even governing/government to an outright illegal taking of power.

    Each strain represents a unique constellation of risks. But it is the willingness of strains to support each other that makes them effective, unlike what happens so often with the components of the coalitions inside the Democratic party.

    All the strains have diverse degrees of support for authoritarianism and even totalitarianism.
    Democrats must therefore dismantle the constitutional, statutory and economic basis that underpin the legitimacy of the strains as much as possible so that the silent majority of the country can unite behind a program to oppose authoritarianism and restore governance.

    The elements of this program must include:

    1. Clarifying that weapons must not be allowed as part of democratic activities like lawmaking and protests. This will require codifying the Supreme Court’s dictum regarding weapons inside Capitol buildings and clarifying caselaw regarding the presence of weapons in protests.

    2. Pushing the right to withdraw financial support from groups and candidates that support the use of violence. This can include using a litmus test of “2nd amendment remedies” as disqualification.

    3. The statutes regarding the militia in the United States must be reformed to explicitly clarify that they have no extra-constitutional role in acting against elected bodies or mobilizing on their own initiative. Also clarifications are required regarding their constitutional rights and duties to bear arms and train.

    4. Serious discussions must take place regarding the role of federalism in governance. Democrats must acknowledge the United States is a federation and develop a philosophy that is consistent regarding this fact. The rule of law must be upheld and concepts like sanctuary cities must be rethought. Originalism needs to be treated with respect just as it needs to be confronted with its contradictions and limitations. Issues like statehood for DC need to be taken off the table, for example. The filibuster on the other hand should be abolished as it is not in the Constitution, preferably as part of a package of reforms (including preferably ones about judicial nominations by either partisan balance or consensus).

    5. If symbols matter then Democrats need also to take responsibility for their support for moves that are breaches of some of the most important constitutional compromises. This includes trying to get rid of the equal representation of the states or reforming the Electoral College in a way that is de facto the extraconstitutional adoption of the national popular vote. Serious discussions about constitutional reform need new formulas that can receive some degree of acceptance from the right.

    6. There needs to be absolute consistency in how we treat the rule of law. Tolerance for violent protests can’t be based on who is doing the protesting or for what causes. Issues like the abuse of executive orders also need to be reconsidered.

    7. Elections laws need far more uniformity. The right must be taken at its word when it comes to its supposed interest in addressing fraud. Democrats should take symbolic steps like withdrawing its opposition to voter id in exchange for Republican acceptance of a system of mail voting. Preclearance under the Voting Rights Act should apply to all states based on the nature of the voting measure.

    The irony of the events at the Capitol is that it is Democrats who have the moral right and probably the obligation to revolt. It is the left that should oppose a system that allows for institutions of minority rule. Instead Democrats tolerated the Gore-Bush debacle, took inconsistent steps regarding the filibuster, don’t take DC statehood seriously and generally failed to pass enough meaningful laws during Obama’s trifecta.

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