No quarter. No compromise. No mercy.
We’re still seething, and we’re in no mood for whataboutism, gaslighting and deflection. As President-elect Biden said last week while the U.S. Capitol was under assault, “Enough is enough is enough.” We will never be able to erase from our minds the grotesque images of the traitorous swine that invaded and desecrated our nation’s Capitol, taking the life of a police officer and injuring scores more. Each and every one of the perpetrators, including those who aided and abetted their heinous acts, can never be forgotten or forgiven. Justice demands that they be held accountable in every way possible. History must remember them as the traitors they so clearly are.
One might surmise that the insurrectionists are now chastened by their failure, or deterred by the idea that they might, like some of their co-conspirators, get arrested, prosecuted and imprisoned. This fails to comprehend the depths of their madness and mental defects. If anything they’ve been emboldened. They’re not angry about what happened; they’re exuberant. They feel empowered. Ushered out without incident or arrest, they left the Capitol building feeling like a world champion boxer looking for his next fight. And they continue to believe that liberal America stole the election, that Dear Leader is under attack, and that the (white) American way of life is at stake. The chances that they will just crawl back under their rocks and simmer down are zip, zero and zilch.
Here at home, Michigan’s traitorous triumvirate of Republican U.S. Reps. Tim Walberg, Jack Bergman and Lisa McClain, all of whom voted against the Electoral College certification mere hours after the attempted putsch was put down, are unapologetic seditionists and should be charged as such. Their too-little, too-late condemnation of the very violence they incited is as empty as their integrity. They should but won’t resign their positions. That’s why they should be expelled from Congress using the procedures outlined in Article 1 of the U.S. Constitution. After the Civil War broke out, 14 senators and three representatives were expelled from Congress for supporting the Confederacy. We see little meaningful difference between the circumstances then and now.
Make no mistake, we are a nation at war — with ourselves. And lest we forget: The Civil War may have ended slavery in America, but it didn’t end the subjugation and persecution of Black citizens. It merely transformed the institutions of slavery into a social and economic system explicitly designed to enforce the continued subservience of Black people to their white masters. Post-war America accepted the establishment and perpetuation of a system so thoroughly racist that 150 years later Black Americans are still suffering its aftereffects. It’s no coincidence that many of the insurrectionists are avowed racists and anti-Semites. They fly the Confederate flag and feel perfectly at home in the warm embrace of Trump and a Republican Party that welcomes them in a cynical and craven attempt to leverage their hatred and discontent for political advantage.
We recall this history as a warning against appeasement in any form. Already we’re hearing calls to delay impeachment by 100 days, which is merely a stalling tactic intended to blunt calls for the president’s immediate removal and move the nation toward unity and healing. We’re not ready for unity and healing.
Let’s be clear: There can be no reconciliation until justice is served. This is neither the time nor the place to give hatred and sedition an inch of accommodation or its purveyors an ounce of compassion. We mustn’t make the mistake of failing to identify and take strong measures to counteract the greatest danger to our republic since the Civil War.
Notwithstanding the indictments and convictions we expect to see in the coming months, where do we as a nation go from here? It may be inevitable that the current crop of Trumpsters will double down on their grievance narrative about stolen elections, which will almost certainly be stoked even further by craven Republicans looking to harness their anger and discontent to advance their own political fortunes.
How do we convince millions of our fellow citizens that the stories they were told were false? How will they react to the likely indictment of Trump and the various members of his crime syndicate, presuming he doesn’t pardon them all in the next week? Should we be preparing for an extended national conflict that will continue to tear at the very foundations of our republic for years to come?
The greatest responsibility to fix what’s broken belongs to the people who did the breaking: the Republican Party. It is now incumbent upon them to clean up their own house, to ostracize those who continue to parrot Trumpian lies, to recruit and support moderate candidates against right-wing kooks, and to humbly admit to the American people that they were wrong. The tenor of their approach to the Biden administration — whether as obstructionists or bipartisan collaborators — will tell us much about where they are headed. We’re happy to applaud Republicans like Congressman-elect Peter Meijer from Grand Rapids, who called out his GOP colleagues for misleading people about the election. Party leaders from top to bottom should emulate his approach.
Perhaps our best hope, though, is to ensure that the next generation of Americans learns the truth about our nation’s shameful legacy of racism, that they read about the time when a horde of violent, racist traitors tried and failed to overthrow our government at the behest of the president of the United States. That they learn how the perpetrators were held accountable — including the president — and how Americans learned important lessons: That violence is never the answer. That those who conspire to destroy our democratic republic will never succeed. And that those who try will pay a heavy price.
We are, of course, avowed liberals who believe in peace and justice to the depth of our souls. But there can be no peace without justice.
No quarter. No compromise. No mercy.