You Didn't See This Coming?
The last week was full of events in Washington, D.C., Olympia, WA, and communities all over the nation, events that will, in FDR's and Chuck Schumer's words, "live on in infamy." The dust is only beginning to settle. The stage-setting for the trashing of the U.S. Capitol Building by Confederate flag-waving terrorists has been visible in Eastern Washington and northern Idaho for decades. Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich (R) called out then Representative Matt Shea years ago for Shea's gun-waving theocratic militia nonsense. Knezovich warned that a local Republican Party that supported the like of Matt Shea was courting its own disaster. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, nonetheless, played footsie with that local domestic terrorist wing of the Spokane County Republicans. After all, it was good politics for her, the political chameleon with a toothy smile--she needed their votes to stay in the U.S. Congress. She strode in lockstep with Donald Trump for four years. Last Tuesday afternoon she said she would vote the next day with the seditious wing of the Republican Party in the House of Representatives to challenge the Electors from several states. She tried to conceal this pandering to Trump's siloed base by couching her position as supporting "investigation." After the trashing of the U.S. Capitol at the instigation of Donald Trump she hurriedly backpedalled, stating she would no longer vote with the insurrectionist representatives. All I can think to ask is "You didn't see this coming? Where were you?"
There was a discussion way back in 2016 on whether to take Donald Trump "seriously, but not literally" or "literally but not seriously." I've long suspected that we all should have taken him both seriously and literally, as the Wednesday storming of the Capitol amply demonstrates. The best column I've seen on this is by Ezra Klein in the NYTImes on January 7--"Trump Has Always Been a Wolf in Wolf’s Clothing." I highly recommend it as bedrock material for understanding present events. Trump has always been completely transparent; he has always believed exactly what he said, but what he said was so outrageous many were unable to imagine that he actually meant what he said.
Today I offer a copy of an email I received yesterday morning from Nicole Bishop, the chair of the Spokane County Democrats, that was sent to members of the local Democratic Party. It does an excellent job of wrapping the local to the national in terms with which I resonate.
Today is a dark day in our country’s history.
The world watched as armed terrorists stormed the U.S. Capitol Building as a means to protest the results and certification of the United States Presidential Election. Governor Inslee’s mansion has now been infiltrated by these domestic terrorists as well. This is a widespread effort.
The term “terrorism“ is used so often in incorrect circumstances that the term has become hackneyed. Terrorism is not a term reserved for peaceful protestors or people of color engaging in the political process, nor is it reserved for foreign extremists. It's reserved for insurgents who violently take over a government building in an attempted coup. These armed insurgents are domestic terrorists, and will be referred to as such. Today, our country faced a coordinated domestic terrorist attack.
Network and cable news appear shocked that this horrendous and violent coup would take place, but as Democrats, we saw the writing on the wall for quite some time.
Let’s first take a look at Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary:
Sedition (n): Incitement of resistance to or insurrection against lawful authority
For months, Republican leaders have been inciting resistance among their supporters. Until today, Cathy McMorris-Rodgers vowed to oppose the Electoral College results. She joined a litany of political leaders who made the same pledge, all while decrying the “stolen election”- the same stolen election, whose results they gladly accepted for their own victories.
It’s easy to blame Trump for this, and certainly Trumpism is a huge part of the problem. But the reality is, this problem existed long before Trump, and will continue long after January 20th when he ceases to be relevant. The real actors to blame are the Republican politicians who consistently opposed doing the right thing and who repeatedly supported the most extreme voices within the party.
Politicians who are complicit in this need to be held accountable to set a precedent that this cannot happen nor be swept under the rug. Our Democracy is at stake. We cannot accept months, years of language that incites resistance (sedition), and expect that one statement repudiating it to undo the years of destruction their sedition caused. At this point, we are seeing politicians (like CMR) speaking out as a form of damage control. And I appreciate that they finally now have decided to take a stand and do the right thing. But one statement does not reverse years of hostility that incited these insurgents to this point.
For the record, I do not place the preponderance of blame on the insurgents who are seizing the Capitol Building. They are scared individuals who have placed their trust in the wrong leaders. These leaders cannot now act as though the step these insurgents took is unimaginable; they’re merely following the implicit orders of the leaders they support.
And unfortunately, this is not new.
In 2009 when Former-President Obama was inaugurated into office, Mitch McConnell met with other Republican leaders at the time with a single pledge: Do anything in their power to make Obama a one-term president. Fortunately, their efforts failed, but along the way, they dog-whistled their way to the rise of the Tea Party. For eight years, Democrats endured the constant onslaught of Republicans insisting Obama was not born in this country, that he was not a true adherent of the religion he claimed to follow, that his tan suit was an abomination, that he violated the constitution on grounds unknown, that he should be impeached for the four lives lost in Benghazi.
As Obama worked against nearly impenetrable opposition to make improvements to the country, the Tea Party movement grew in equal measure, eventually resulting in the election of Donald Trump.
What we are seeing today did not grow in a vacuum overnight. And we need to hold politicians who led to this moment accountable to their culpability.
When Black Lives Matter protestors used legal means to peacefully protest, they were met with an onslaught of rubber bullets and tear gas and harsh decries from Republicans across the country that their actions are dangerous and unpatriotic.
Today, insurgents charged the Capitol Building and seized control, armed with guns and bombs. The response? Donald Trump told them “I love you.”
The past four years have highlighted all that is broken in our country- and has been broken for a long time. We have much to fix- from the deeply embedded relationship with white nationalism within our bureaucratic systems to the extent to which complicit leaders can produce violence and despotism.
How can we start to fix this incredible brokenness? We start by not forgetting the leaders who incited this violence locally and nationally: Cathy McMorris-Rodgers, Jenny Graham, Loren Culp, Matt Shea- the list goes on.
Their silence was literally violence, and our country’s future depends on us remembering.
Nicole Bishop | She, Her, Hers
ChairDon't forget to sign up for RCV 101 (go back to the top :-) and
Keep to the high ground,
P.S. For a more optimistic take on our present situation nationwide I recommend "The next era starts now."