What to do about Donald Trump - part 1

President Donald Trump invited supporters to gather in Washington on January 6, 2021, prior to Congress counting the Electoral College’s votes. Trump encouraged the crowd to walk to Capitol Hill where they should protest because the election results were “an egregious assault” on American democracy. He said, in part, “We are going to cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women and we are probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them – because you will never take back our country with weakness.”

Trump’s son, Donald Jr. (“We’re coming for you”), and Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani (“trial by combat”), who both spoke before the President did, were more explicit in suggesting violence.

How should the preponderance of US citizens who found the actions of the mob that invaded Capitol Hill and temporarily disrupted the certifying of the Electoral College results shocking, abhorrent and reprehensible?

First, outrage, excessive passion and exaggeration are unhelpful. Responding with too much emotion suggests that the mob posed an existential threat to US democracy, which is far from correct. Inflammatory language such as “sedition” and “insurrection” connote a level of organization, preparation and scale that were absent. The event was domestic terrorism not revolution. Authorities ended the attack quickly and Congress speedily resumed its work.

Second, persevere in efforts to end racism. Authorities’ response demonstrated the persistence of white privilege: Their response was more measured and less violent against the largely White mob than that of the authorities who responded to many Black Lives Matter demonstrations. The more measured response may reflect better training (this is very good). However, the more measured response to some degree also reflects a deep-set cultural bias that Blacks tend to be more violent than Whites, a bias suggested in photos that show police acting in ways that imply support for the mob or at least for its aims.

Third, truth – as much as we can know it - matters. Demand that politicians and others who make public allegations support their claims with facts. If hundreds of thousands vote illegally, where is the proof? Where are specific examples? Everyone occasionally misstates a position, incorrectly cites a supposed fact, etc. Honest people acknowledge their errors. Good citizens insist upon honest politicians and government, graciously forgiving those who forthrightly admit error. Dishonesty rapidly erodes trust. Lying disrespects others. Without trust and mutual respect neither democracy nor good government is possible.

Truth matters. Donald Trump is a loser. He lost the 2020 election. Donald Trump is a liar. On thousands of occasions, he communicated falsehoods with the intent to deceive. Donald Trump is self-serving. His presidential administration repeatedly acted in ways to benefit him; he demanded loyalty to him and not the Constitution, firing individuals who prioritized loyalty to the Constitution.

Part 2 of this post explores what legal actions, if any, should the government take with respect to President Donald Trump.

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