Editorial: Trump leaves the GOP in tatters and disgraced
The scene Americans will likely remember of Trump’s disastrous four-year presidency will be when a mob of his supporters — egged on by Trump in an earlier rally — broke through the thin line of the capitol’s police force and stormed the nation’s capitol, breaking windows, occupying the Senate chamber and sending Senators and House members scrambling for cover in gas masks, as police inside the building drew their weapons in an harrowing incident that caused one person to be shot and killed.
It was an attack on the nation’s Capitol orchestrated by a president who has refused to accept his defeat in a fair election whose results have been proven accurate and unassailable time and again.
That this was a scene from America’s Capitol as Congress was in the process of a peaceful transition of power — not an authoritarian banana republic of a past century — illustrates how far America’s democracy has fallen under Trump and a complicit Republican Party.
It may also mark the moment when Trump split the GOP.
Already reasonable Republicans are calling for meaningful action against Trump. In a late statement Wednesday afternoon, Republican Gov. Phil Scott of Vermont called for Trump to either resign or be removed from office.
“This is a very disturbing time for our nation,” Scott said late Wednesday. “What we are seeing today at the U.S. Capitol is not a peaceful protest – it is an unacceptable attack on our democracy.
“The rioters have actively assaulted police officers, and they should immediately evacuate the Capitol building or be removed.
“Make no mistake, the President of the United States is responsible for this event. President Trump has orchestrated a campaign to cause an insurrection that overturns the results of a free, fair and legal election.
“The fact is the results of this election have been validated by Republican governors, conservative judges and non-partisan election officials across the country. There is no doubt that the President’s delusion, fabrication, self-interest, and ego have led us – step by step – to this very low, and very dangerous, moment in American history.
“The fabric of our democracy and the principles of our republic are under attack by the President.
“Enough is enough. President Trump should resign or be removed from office by his Cabinet, or by the Congress.”
Scott was not alone in his condemnation of Trump. Sen. Mitch Romney, R-Utah, was reportedly furious with Trump and blamed him for the assault on the Capitol, while Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Nebraska, issued a blistering rebuke: “Today, the United States Capitol — the world’s greatest symbol of self-government — was ransacked while the leader of the free world cowered behind his keyboard — tweeting against his vice president for fulfilling the duties of his oath to the Constitution,” Sasse said in a statement. “Lies have consequences. This violence was the inevitable and ugly outcome of the president’s addiction to constantly stoking division.”
In the heat of the moment, even stalwart Trump supporter House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, who was sheltering in place when the Capitol was locked down, said he “begged him (Trump) to go talk to the nation — don’t do it by Twitter,” and in an earlier live phone interview with CBS News, McCarthy said the situation within the Capitol still wasn’t controlled and that “help was needed.”
Hearing nothing from Trump in those crucial moments, and as the rioting unfolded on live TV, Biden went on television in Delaware with a clear message: “This is not dissent. It’s disorder. It’s chaos. It borders on sedition,” and then raising his voice, he added, “It must end now.”
The scene and the day will be a defining portrait of the Trump era.
His was not just a failed presidency in terms of policy and actions — foreign and domestic, and most particularly with his handling of the pandemic — but in how he pirated a too willing Republican Party, abused it for four years and trashed it on his way out of town — leaving Republican loyalists and critics alike reeling from his self-absorbed, obsessive and manic disregard for anyone other than himself.
That portrait, as damning as it is, has one silver lining for Democrats and the nation.
Tuesday’s election saw Georgia elect two Democratic senators — 33-year-old Jon Ossoff, who is Jewish, and Raphael Warnock, an Atlanta preacher who is the first black Senator elected in a southern state. That their victory was possible in a red state in which the incumbents were favored shows how damaging Trump’s irrational and autocratic behavior over the past two months has been.
In the end, that Trump’s one-term presidency handed Democrats the presidency, control of the House and Senate — and allows them to undo many of his ruinous actions — makes him one of the biggest political losers in the nation’s history. That’s certainly not the image Trump had hoped to create. And it’s far from over.
Trump faces multiple lawsuits and investigations into tax fraud and other criminal acts that will be pursued in state courts, and perhaps revisited by Congress with an eye toward his financial involvement with Russia. If that information proves damaging, his star is likely to fall quicker and further than many might have imagined just a week ago — and he might not have as many Republican friends in Congress to prevent those pursuits as he once imagined.
Finally, that he has exposed the GOP as a party without principle, outed several leaders for the craven politicians they are, and leaves the party in a civil war, will only add to the dark stain of his short, but destructive, era. Surely Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell regrets the day he embraced Trump and, symbolically, signed a pact with the devil.
It all came crashing down this Wednesday when Trump proved to be a modern-day Benedict Arnold. His presidency is an updated tale of traitorous behavior in broad daylight — with social media, Fox News and rightwing media as his accomplices — that will be instructive to students of political history for many decades and serves as a fitting lesson for the times in which we live.