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OPINION: The Center Still Holds

OUT ON A LIMB/John Embry

Wednesday was historic no doubt.  As what appeared to be a few hundred rioters somehow made their way inside the U.S. Capitol building, Americans of all political stripes watched in disbelief.  It clearly wasn’t a coup attempt or an attempt to take over the government as talking heads were hyperventilating on television.  Rest assured, the operations and foundations of our government were safe and secure.  Nevertheless, it had been a long time since 1814 and the actions of a contingent of redcoats who engaged in similar antics.    

Following the debacle, many questions remain.  Who were these individuals?  Were they really part of the thousands that were legitimately exercising their First Amendment rights to peacefully assemble?  How in the world were security measures so easily compromised?  My family and I toured the Capital last December, probably the dullest time of the year, and the security that was in place then makes what happened on Wednesday seem impossible.  Why?  

What role did President Donald Trump and his rhetoric regarding the election outcome play in this series of events?  Equally important, what role did the relentless and vicious verbal attacks and lies (from the Progressive Left, media, celebrity class, etc.) on candidate Trump, President Trump, and his family and supporters have on building up to this moment of lawlessness?

Finally, what role did the lawlessness and anarchy of 2020 (i.e. rioting, looting, violence - many directed at government entities), on display in American cities that was tolerated in most all cases, ignored in others, and even encouraged in some, play in leading to the Wednesday’s events?  Many of those now screaming the loudest were silent a few months ago.  Hypocrisy anyone?  I wonder if any of the perpetrators from Wednesday will receive corporate donations or have a plaza named after them?  It’s hard to measure these contributors but no doubt each played distinct roles in bringing the political water to a boil.  It was all sad to watch.

As you might expect, many of the usual suspects have placed all blame at the feet of President Trump.  No surprise there.  I half expected CNN to show footage of him hoisting a rope over the walls of the Capitol donning a Viking helmet.  Nevertheless, I do think the President, with some of his actions and language since the election, had an unsettling effect on things and has made a bad situation even worse.  As a supporter of President Trump and the changes he brought to Washington, I am disappointed in some of the words and actions he has taken recently.  He is his own worst enemy at times and that lack of personal discipline that he shows sometimes in trying to navigate a treacherous political landscape helped cost the Republican Party control of the Senate, which will ultimately diminish the many policy achievements of his administration and tarnish his legacy and future political aspirations.  

Let’s rewind a bit.  Andrew Jackson felt like a “corrupt bargain” cost him the presidency in 1824 - a claim that Twitter would definitely flag as false or disputed.  “Old Hickory” used that righteous indignation to rally his forces and won landslide victories in the next two presidential elections.  A few years prior to that, incumbent President John Adams lost a nasty reelection campaign to Thomas Jefferson, making him the first “loser” of that scale in the history of the young nation.  He left office angrily, wore his loss on his sleeve for years, and remained bitter about it for much of the rest of his life before reconciling somewhat with Thomas Jefferson as they entered their twilight years.  President Donald Trump could have gone the Jackson route.  Instead, it seems he has gone the way of Adams...and then some.

While many folks are wringing their hands in despair, others are borderline hysterical, and a few are scheming about how to turn Wednesday into a political weapon.  Wednesday was about lawlessness and anarchy, much like we saw throughout the second half of 2020.  The stage was bigger for sure and that amplified the symbolism but make no mistake about it - what happened in Washington D.C. on Wednesday is simply an extension of what has been taking place in numerous American cities.  All of it is wrong and those who directly engaged in these actions should be held accountable.  However, I have found some much-needed renewed confidence in the institutions of American government.  The center still holds.  Order was restored.  Congress returned.  The business of government was conducted.  The process was completed.  The system did not fail. The Constitution was followed.  I can say this as someone who is not in any way happy about the results.  And, I do think some of President Trump’s claims about election fraud are legitimate and should be investigated further, especially those related to mail-in voting, which, if left unchecked, will continue to erode voter confidence in elections.  


2020 tested this nation in a big way.  The political extremes reigned much of the year but in the end the center still held.  To be more specific, the center approach to governing held (i.e. Senator Mitch McConnell, et al) and I am hopeful that as a nation we have pulled back from a mad dash toward anarchy.  This will be the challenge for President-elect Joe Biden moving forward.

What now?  Media outlets are demanding that President Trump resign immediately.  He won’t and nor should he.  Chuck is calling for the 25th Amendment to be invoked.  Silly.  Nancy is clamoring for Impeachment 2.0.  Foolish.  So much for their pretense of preaching unity and coming together to heal the nation.  In 12 days, this dynamic duo, their legislative cohorts and their Trojan Horse in the White House will no longer have Donald Trump to kick around.  That should be fun.  Stay calm and carry on.  The center still holds.  



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