Protestors at the Capitol


As was foreseen, last week the Senate voted to acquit former President Donald Trump for the crime of inciting an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6. Now, there are millions of Americans who have a choice to make. Republicans, conservativesand even some libertarianshave stretched their usual political norms to make excuses for Trump’s erratic behavior for years, but while the Congress and Vice-President counted the 2020 Electoral College votes on January 6, we finally saw in plain sight how far Trump and his rabid supporters would go. The riots at the Capitol were a direct attempt to usurp the democratic processes of our constitutional republic and any attempts by anyone to defend those actions are fundamentally flawed.

After all, there was nothing democratic or patriotic about the events of January 6. Trump supporters who still believe “The Big Lie” have been misled to think the 2020 presidential election was stolen, despite all the evidence to the contrary. And even if the results were suspect enough to warrant any recounts, this process would happen at the state level where the Electoral College votes are approved by the Secretaries of State and state legislatures. While there’s always the possibility of fraud in any electoral process, members of Congress are allowed to challenge any questionable states’ results, which has been done multiple times in recent history. Unfortunately for Trump and his enablers, there is nothing in the Constitution that says the Congress or Vice-President has the authority to simply change the results of the Electoral College. Thus, the Trumpers who stormed The People’s House in the name of their “king” were going against the very thing they’ve always claimed to love and protect – the Constitution.

Oddly enough, these rioters-turned-insurrectionists were also spurred on by several elected Republicans who attempted to procedurally perpetuate “The Big Lie” within the halls of Congress. These charlatans attempted to use the precedent of The Compromise of 1877as a case for their convictions, despite it being a historically bad settlement that followed the presidential election of 1876. Due to a tied Electoral College that year, the election had to be decided by the U.S. House of Representatives, which in turn formed a commission to create a good ol’ fashioned American compromise. Yee haw! However, this historical precedent was somewhat unrelated to the 2020 presidential election, because President Trump didn’t even come close to Joe Biden’s Electoral College vote count whatsoever. Furthermore, one of the repercussions of the 1877 compromise was the end of Reconstruction, which led to decades of racist “Jim Crow” policies in the South. Even Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) managed to make this point on the Senate floor in the waning hours of January 6.

So now is the time to ask -- how did so many Republicans and conservatives go along with Trump’s “conservatism” charade to begin with? How were these supposedly smart and well-meaning people -- loyal to the Constitution and believers in small government – duped into supporting a wannabe-autocrat like Trump, to the point where they almost stopped the constitutional process? Is that not the exact opposite of what conservatives are supposed to believe? Is that not the exact opposite of what The Founding Fathers fought for? Because of the oversight, now Trump has managed to hijack the Republican Party and conservatism in America is changed forever. While an odd hybrid of white supremacy and anti-government political beliefs have been brewing on the conservative side of our politics for decades, since the movement has now reared its ugly head in such a profound way under Trump, conservatives must choose a new path forward.

As evidenced by the number of Confederate flags carried by those who stormed the Capitol on January 6, it’s obvious most of Trump’s followers don’t understand or actually care about the true principles of individual liberty and constitutional government. They just care about themselves and the lives of the mostly white people around them, which they believe can only be protected by their “king.” It’ll be good for real conservatives (and everyone!) to reach out to these folks in the years ahead, as they’ll probably be looking for a new political home. As for the elected Republicans in Congress, as well as in the various statehouses and beyond, they too have a choice to make – will they finally decide to protect and defend the Constitution as they swore to do, or will they continue to bend the law to protect and defend one man? Unfortunately, sometimes it’s harder to do the right thing than it is to maintain a career in politics. After all, what’s to keep Trump from doing to elected Republicans’ homes what he did to the U.S. Capitol?