The fate of the constitutional republic of the United States of America remains unknown. Will it survive to celebrate its 250th anniversary? Will it dissolve into its constituent parts? Will it simply muddle along under constant strain because the alternative is too scary?
No one knows the answer to these questions. Before beginning a series of history blogs on the subject, I would like to note how easy it would have been for the constitutional republic already to have ended. A lot of things had to work out for us to get even this far and anyone one of them could have turned out differently.
THERE COULD HAVE BEEN A BIGGER TURNOUT ON 1/6
Approximately 8000 people showed up on January 6, not all of them armed. When I first wrote Seven Days in January: This Time It Is Not a Movie on January 3, I asked what would happen if different combinations of heavily-armed right wing militias had stormed the Capitol. I wondered if there were sufficient ground forces to stop them. Now we know. Even with the lower number of insurrectionists the defensive forces were inadequate to do the job.
1. Why weren’t there adequate forces to defend the Capitol?
2. Why was the turnout for the insurrection so low?
3. Despite the low numbers, what would the response have been if Mike Pence had been hanged and Nancy Pelosi had been killed?
SUPPOSE THE TRUMPICANS HAD BEEN AS WELL ORGANIZED AS THE WOKE
The Woke were prepared for the post-election attempt by the Trumpicans to steal the election; the Trumpicans were not. The Woke correctly anticipated the Trumpican attempt to steal the election. They had planning sessions as to what to do. More importantly, they had planning sessions on what not to do: No cries to “Defund the Police.” No toppling of statues. No burning of flags. They conducted training sessions. They planned for contingencies. They coordinated. They vowed not to provide Trumpicans with the slogans and photo-ops that would undermine their cause. They were organized, disciplined, ready and successful.
By contrast, the Trumpican side was true to their leader. He bought a lifetime of incompetence and ineptitude to managing his post-election attempt to steal the election. He was not prepared at all. He had no planning sessions. He developed no strategies. He organized nothing. When your legal effort is being led by Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, you know you have a weak case. Everything was ad hoc, impulsive, on the fly. The DOJ wasn’t ready; in the end a nobody from left field attempted to stage a coup within the department that went nowhere. In the end the corporations that were being accused of criminal activity based on wishful thinking decided to strike back through legal action.
The planning for the insurrection itself consisted of a call to show up, attend a rally, and walk to the Capitol – it will be wild. There was no planning about what the people should do once they got inside the Capitol. As Mary Trump said about her uncle, a child in the body of an adult with the emotional maturity of a three-year old, he “enjoyed every second…He is a physical coward but he’s perfectly happy when other people commit violence on his behalf.” Even the rightwing groups mocked the effort for being unorganized and inadequately planned. Once inside, the insurrectionists were busy taking selfies and souvenirs. Skilled revolutionaries they were not.
1. Suppose next time the insurrection leader is an adult?
2. Suppose next time the insurrectionists turn out in force and do have a plan?
3. Suppose next time the Woke aren’t as well organized and prepared to stop the steal?
WHAT IF THE CORONAVIRUS HAD OCCURRED EARLIER IN HIS TERM?
On numerous occasions during the pandemic, various people in the administration have made fools of themselves for their ineptitude, incompetence, and ignorance. They did not understand the science nor did they want do. One of the questions historians will ask, if they aren’t already, is why did the eventual loser throw away the opportunity to be a winner.
1. Imagine if he had worn a mask.
2. Imagine if had pretended to be sympathetic.
3. Imagine if he had put Mike Pence in charge.
Of course, he couldn’t change who he was even though it cost him the election. He simply was too simple-minded, narcissistic and lacking in mental necessities to transform the virus into a leadership challenge as a wartime president. Instead all he cared about was the Dow Jones and once that crisis was solved he lost interest.
But if the virus had struck earlier and if the vaccine had been ready earlier and if the vaccine had been distributed earlier and America was looking back on the virus on election day the way China is, he would have been re-elected. He will never understand that.
WHAT IF THE DEMOCRATS HAD NOT NOMINATED JOE BIDEN?
While 7 million votes is a lot numerically, in percentage terms, it is not that great. A small shift of votes in Georgia, Arizona, Wisconsin, and one congressional district and there would have been no need to try to steal the election. All things considered, that is not a lot of votes. It also shows how thin the Democratic bench is and how Democrats may need Biden to run again in 2024 to prevent a Trumpican victory.
Our next presidential election is the bicentennial of the election of 1824. That presidential election was one of the ugliest in American history. There were five candidates. American was transitioning from the First Party system of Federalists and Anti-Federalists/Republicans of Adams and Jefferson to the Second Party system of Whigs and Democrats with Clay/Webster and Jackson. I first wrote about it in September 2016 The Presidential Election of 1824: Lessons for Today and tried to resume the discussion in December 2020 Biden and Cuomo: The End of an Era. In that blog I wrote about the Diversity Party and the Democratic Party as two of the parties. The question was how long the two factions could remain united in one party. The answer is still unknown but I think it is safe to say both groups understand the stakes if they don’t.
In that blog, I deferred writing about the corresponding division of the other party between the Republicans and the Trumpicans. In a little more than a month since then, that division has become obvious to everyone. The actions of the state parties such as in Arizona and really-off-the-rails Oregon, the votes in the House on the electors and the impeachment, the vote in the Senate on constitutionality of the impeachment all show that there is no civil war in the Republican Party. The Trumpicans have won. The Republicans are retiring from the battlefield. The Lincoln Project Republicans aren’t welcome anymore and they know it. There is no place for them.
Mitch McConnell is four years too late to battle to save the Republican Party from the Trumpicans. He got his tax cut to help rich people get richer and he got his judges. If the price is the destruction of the Republican Party for the Trumpican Party, then he will have to decide if it was worth it. The people who need to set up a third party are the Republicans and not the Trumpicans. There is no Republican Party left to take back.
That is why the fate of the constitutional republic remains unknown and precarious. The United States of America now has one national party that is dedicated not to the rule of law under the Constitution but to the wishes of one immature individual with no conscience, no ethics, and no morals. For now at least, he is in complete control of his party. The vaunted Biden working relationships with members across the aisle means nothing. Those are the Republicans on their way out. He has no Senate experience with Trumpicans. He has no House experience with Trumpicans. They do not consider him legitimate.
The Democrats still control the House…by a little and the in-power Party tends to lose seats in the non-Presidential election. The Democrats barely control the Senate but there still are some Republicans left there so some legislation may be possible. The Democrats have no margin for error. The continued existence of the United States of America as a constitutional republic depends on them not making one.