On 24 August 1814, the United States Capitol was overrun and burned. In the aftermath, President James Madison and Secretary of State and War James Monroe rallied the people in the face of this national emergency. On 6 January 2021, the United States Capitol was overrun for the second time in its history. Though the physical damage was far less severe, the political damage remains far worse. While the damage caused in 1814 was due to a foreign threat during a time of war, the 2021 Storming of the United States Capitol consisted of a mob of Trump supporters influenced by treasonous politicians, such as the outgoing president and Senators Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz. The events of 6 January 2021 have been labeled a coup and a storming. I think a better term would be to call it the Trump Putsch of 2021. A putsch is defined as ‘a violent attempt to overthrow a government’ and is probably most familiar to American audiences for the Hitlerian Beer Hall Putsch of 1923 — a dark chapter in Bavarian and German history. The mob violence of the Trump flag-wavers was nothing less than a neo-fascistic attempt to subvert the democratic process in the name of a demagogue.
In the weeks between Biden’s victory in the United States Presidential Election in November and the date set for formally counting the electoral votes and certifying the election on 6 January, President Donald Trump engaged in a disinformation campaign trying to de-legitimize the election. Filing frivolous lawsuits, tweeting ridiculous utterances, and inflaming gangs of zealous supporters, the president has betrayed his oath of office, expressed his clear and utter contempt for the Constitution of the United States, and made it perfectly clear that he is completely unqualified for his job — something apparent from day 1 but made glaringly obvious in his poor handling of events on 6 January. Quite simple, the president has proven to be a buffoon, a con-artist, and a traitor.
President Trump is not the only member of the United States Government to be implicated in the treasonous putsch of 2 days ago — several sycophantic senators, most notably Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz, have supported attempts to challenge the legitimacy of the 2020 Presidential Election, despite overwhelming evidence of Biden’s clear victory. These senators have also violated their oaths of office and do not deserve to be in the halls of Congress.
The events of 6 January 2021 — the Trump Putsch — prove that significant numbers of among the leadership of the Republican Party of the United States are corrupt to the point that they need to be removed from positions of power and influence. Their transparently partisan fixations have blinded them to the duties they have to the people and the Constitution. Men like Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz are not representing the interests of the people. They are not conservatives! Were Edmund Burke alive today, he would be embarrassed and ashamed that conservatism is associated with such partisan hacks.
In 1796, George Washington delivered one of the most important messages in American political history — his Farewell Address. In it, he warned of the dangers of factionalism, something he witnessed with the emerging two-party system at the end of the eighteenth century:
“The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries, which result, gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of Public Liberty.”
Donald Trump failed as an executive to gracefully concede after his clear loss in November and failed again in the aftermath of the storming of the Capitol two days ago. This was his response to a violent ransacking of the Capitol by his supporters:
“This was a fraudulent election, but we can’t play into the hands of these people,” he continued. “We have to have peace. So go home. We love you. You’re very special. You’ve seen what happens. You see the way others are treated that are so bad and so evil. I know how you feel. But go home and go home in peace.” -Donald Trump, 2021
Donald Trump, to the end, repeats lies about the election and fails to call out the violent mob after they broke into the Capitol building. He is a threat to the people, to the government, and to the Constitution. He has proven that he cannot wield executive power without hurting people. He has proven to be the worst president in the entire history of the United States. Worse than James Buchanan — though the two of them share the dubious distinction of committing treason. It is incumbent on the powers that be to legally remove Donald Trump from office, even if he has only a week and a half left of his term. This is too long to wait! The man should be impeached or the 25th Amendment must be invoked.
It remains to be seen how historian will view the 2021 Trump Putsch. One can only hope that it constitutes a movement in its death throws and not the beginning of a path to a second civil war. Fascism may have died on the battlefields of the twentieth century but lack of vigilance can see it resurrected in the personality cults emerging around demagogues offering simple ‘solutions’ to complex problems and finding scapegoats to blame. Donald Trump has proven to be the most destructive, divisive, and dangerous man ever to occupy the Oval Office. One can only hope that his term as president will stand as a cautionary tale in the history of the United States for what not to do as commander-in-chief.