“The United States Senate has a higher calling than an endless spiral of partisan vengeance,” Mitch McConnell said, defying Donald Trump just a half hour after Mike Pence issued a rebuke of his own.
“I believe protecting our constitutional order requires recognizing the limits of our own power,” McConnell went on to tell his colleagues, some of whom decided to lodge futile objections to the certification of Joe Biden’s Electoral College win, despite having no credible evidence to support allegations of widespread voter fraud.
Last month, McConnell attempted to convince Senate GOPers not to join House Republicans in a quixotic endeavor that was doomed by math to fail. And yet, last week, Ted Cruz announced he’d lead a group of 12 Senators in objection.
With Josh Hawley having set the stage, Republicans unwilling to incur Trump’s wrath were compelled to go along for the ride, despite knowing the road was a dead end.
McConnell, speaking on a day when he was poised to lose the Senate following the Georgia runoffs, said Congress cannot disenfranchise American citizens.
Overruling voters, as Trump asked the GOP and Mike Pence to do, would “damage the republic forever,” McConnell said, adding that contrary to the narrative pushed by many in his own party, there was “no massive election fraud.” The election wasn’t stolen from Trump, he emphasized.
Driving the point home, McConnell, chief antagonist to so many Democratic voters, said this: “I will vote to respect our peopleâ€™s decision and defend our system of government as we know it.”
And just like that, Trump was rebuffed by Pence and McConnell in the space of just an hour.
As protesters waving Trump flags marched on the Capitol, spurred on by the man himself and riled up by Alex Jones, who was on the scene, lawmakers were evacuated for their own safety.
The Secret Service was deployed. The Capitol was locked down. At least one person was shot and killed.
The Trump faithful in Wednesday’s melee were branded “criminals” and “insurrectionists” by members of both parties, just as the African Americans who destroyed property over the summer during racial justice protests were deemed “thugs” and “looters.”
But watching the spectacle, one was reminded that, for the most part, the president’s supporters are victims.
Victims of their own gullibility, sure. But also victims of an economic system that failed them. And continues to fail them.
Victims of an education system that failed them. And continues to fail them.
Victims of a healthcare system that failed them. And continues to fail them.
And victims of a government that failed them. And continues to fail them.
But beyond that, Trump’s supporters are victims of a fraudulent narrative sold to them by a man who spent his entire adult life peddling empty packages wrapped in gilded promises he never intended to keep.
The people protesting in D.C. on Wednesday were victims of a man whose business career was a case study in failure, resurrected, ironically, by a television show premised on a fabricated history of success.
In a video posted to Twitter before he was banned for 12 hours, pending a possible permanent suspension, Trump told his supporters he “loved” them.
In the end, Trump delivered on virtually none of his promises. No different from the way he ran his businesses.
His administration ends with the worst economic collapse in the nation’s modern history. It ends with mass disease. It ends with nearly 400,000 Americans dead to a pandemic. It ends with millions jobless, and millions more starving. His administration ends in tragedy.
America is isolated from its allies, mocked by friends and foes alike, and fractured along racial, religious, and economic lines, with no clear path back.
Not everything bad that happened to America over the past four years was Trump’s fault. And the blame for the conditions that brought him to power lies elsewhere.
But he leaves the country in immeasurably worse shape than when he entered the White House.
Like the human and economic toll inflicted by the pandemic, some of that damage is structural. It will never be undone.
On Wednesday afternoon, Trump’s supporters — his victims — breached the Capitol and broke into the Senate Chamber.
According to a Hill pool report, they roamed the halls screaming “Where are they?”