The Overlooked Lessons of Trumpism Gone Awry

The Overlooked Lessons of Trumpism Gone Awry

Do Trump supporters want to set a precedent that could enable Congress unilaterally to overturn the election of another conservative populist with something like a second wave of Russia collusion charges? If so, then count me out.

Much of the political future will depend on the record compiled by the Biden administration. Not only could the new president fail on the economic and virus-fighting fronts, but on the national unity front. Here, despite his reputation as a moderate and a healer, Biden is not off to a great start with his charge that Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) have used Nazi-like tactics, and with his comments accusing law enforcement of handling the overwhelmingly white Capitol rioters more gingerly than the racial justice protesters. As his harsh recent rhetoric suggests, Biden could also overreach greatly on other issues like climate change, immigration, and Cancel Culture and Identity Politics. Such overreach failures could even shore up some support for Trump.

How big is the violence-prone fringe on the American Right? The country will know much more on Inauguration Day, which is when law enforcement officers anticipate curtailing armed protests both in Washington, DC and many state capitals. What does seem alarmingly clear, though is that this faction is much bigger than the relatively small number of Capitol breachers.

Speaking of the breachers, the nature of the crimes they committed obviously varied among individuals. But even those just milling about were guilty of serious offenses and should be prosecuted harshly. The circumstances surrounding those who crossed barriers on the Capitol grounds is somewhat murkier. Those who knocked down the flimsy fencing were just as guilty as the building breachers. But lesser charges, or possibly no charges, might be justifiable for those who simply walked past those barriers because they were no longer visible, especially if they didn’t enter the Capitol itself.

I’m not a security expert, but one question I hope will be asked in the forthcoming investigations of the Capitol police is: why weren’t the Capitol Building doors locked as soon as the approach of the crowd became visible? The number of doors is limited and they’re not flimsy. This was obvious back in October 2018 when barred Supreme Court doors left anti-Brett Kavanaugh protesters futilely pounding from the outside when they attempted to disrupt the new Supreme Court Justice’s swearing-in ceremony. Window entry into the Capitol would have remained an option, but the number of breachers who used that tactic seems to have been negligible.

How ironic it would be if one of the worst days in American history hadn’t happened if one of the simplest and most commonsensical types of precautions had been taken.

Alan Tonelson is the Founder of RealityChek, a blog on economics and national security, and a columnist for In 2016, he advised both the Trump and Sanders campaigns on international trade issues.

Image: Reuters