By Dan Spalding
WARSAW — Did you feel the political earth shift this week? I did.
It was actually two tremors connected to the same fault line, felt across the world in just a matter of hours. Three days later, the aftershocks continue to rumble and political damage is still assessed.
Americans woke up Wednesday morning, learning that two Democrats were the likely winners in the key Georgia runoffs for the US Senate. Suddenly, Dems would control the House, the Senate and the White House.
And then seven hours later, we watched supporters of Donald Trump storm the Capitol in a historic attack that left five dead and the world reeling in reaction. No doubt some of those unhinged Trump supporters were amped up even a little more than normal after learning of the Georgia election results.
New videos of the insurrection began surfacing on Friday night and further expose how ugly it became. The belligerent QAnon supporter being shot and killed as she tried to crawl through a door. An officer screaming in pain while being crushed against a doorframe.
Another officer died after apparently being beaten with a fire extinguisher by Trump supporters.
As I watched the Trump riots unfold Wednesday, it took a while for it to sink in. But one thought kept surfacing. A lot of the supporters looked like some of my friends and acquaintances in Warsaw.
Plenty of my friends fell hard for Trump five years ago. They liked his approach to guns, immigration, taxes and law enforcement. They thought he was a patriot like them.
I feel bad for most of these folks who are probably coming to grips with the fact that they got snookered by a guy who effused flaggy talk, patriotism and law and order. Some of them watched in horror Wednesday. Some probably would have been swept up in the emotion and climbed the steps of the Capitol. I would hope others would have stepped away when they saw things spiraling out of control.
Trump built a lie about the election being rigged. He incited supporters repeatedly. He let the protest fester for hours. And then he justified their deadly actions while never once admitting his role or acknowledging the dead.
And he also threw Vice President Mike Pence under the Trump Train when he urged the Hoosier native to help block the certification of Biden’s election.
Those who stormed the Capitol, planted explosives, trashed offices and stupidly celebrated with selfie photos are in a special class. After Trump attacked Pence on social media, there were calls by some protesters seeking to lynch Pence.
Do my friends really want to hang Pence?
And somehow, this is apparently OK with a segment of the Trump Republican Party. Some polls show as many as 20% of Republicans were OK with the attempted coup.
That appears to be the case with Indiana’s newly elected Attorney General, Todd Rokita, who tweeted Friday night that he “will always be for our President.” So yeah, the highest-ranking law enforcement officer in Indiana just endorsed Trump. I imagine that tweet will not age well.
More tremors were felt Friday night when Twitter banned Trump for life for fear he would incite more violence. Meanwhile, other tech giants began working to make it harder to join Parler, the new social media platform that embraces conservative ideals and hate speech.
The next 11 days will be a tinderbox. Impeachment efforts are set to begin Monday and others are still talking about the 25th Amendment. Some worry more riots are being planned as inauguration day nears. Will Trump resign and seek a pardon from Pence? Will he try to pardon himself?
Meanwhile, more Republican lawmakers are calling for his resignation, including Sen. Lisa Murkowski who indicated she’s rethinking whether to remain a Republican.
Trump will likely leave the White House with historically bad job approval numbers. His name and his brand and the photos of his rioting supporters will be used by White Supremacists, anarchists and other idiots for decades to come.
Any plans by Trump to run again for the White House are all but dashed, at least as a Republican, I would hope. I suppose he will continue trying to be a political kingmaker, but his credibility as a respected player in public politics is shrinking quickly.
In one day, Republicans lost the Senate and then watched Trump lose all credibility. They’re now left to work with a new president, Joe Biden, who finds himself sitting atop the moral high ground and more leverage with legislation.
I know that’s a tough pill to swallow for Republicans.
What is clear is that Republicans are in a new era of reckoning. You’re either part of the country or part of the problem. The party needs to reshape and reinforce the meaning of what it means to be a good, patriotic conservative.
I don’t know what will become of the Republican Party, but I hope they raise their standards and use Trump as an example of how not to run a campaign or a country.
Words matter. Honesty matters. Character matters.
When the dust settles and the tremors cease and the wreckage is fully understood, one thing should become apparent.
If Trump and his small band of seditious followers want to be a player in politics, the Republican Party would be wise to move on without them.
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Dan Spalding is the editor at InkFreeNews.com.
He covers city government and politics and always welcomes your input.
He can be reached at [email protected] or at (574) 855-7612.