The events of January 6 did not come out of the blue. They did not happen by chance. They were the inevitable consequence of a four-year presidency characterized by tantrums rather than truth, a presidency that was fueled by his mostly white supporters’ hatred of “the other.”
I was there on Wednesday. I saw with my own eyes and heard with my own ears how Donald Trump’s speech on that cold January day helped transform the demonstrators into an angry mob. There is not a shadow of a doubt that the president egged those people on before they stormed the Capitol. What else could he have meant by such statements as “you’ll never take back our country with weakness — you have to show strength, and you have to be strong”? He bellowed to the crowd and urged his supporters to head to the Capitol.
People told me they had come to Washington to march against a “stolen” election. The majority seemed to genuinely believe that Trump was the real winner in November. They have been brainwashed by his lies, become trapped in their social media bubbles. Galvanized by leading Republican politicians irresponsible enough to help weave this toxic web of lies — and whose personal greed for power led them to break their oath to support and defend the US Constitution.
The Democrats must now do everything in their power to prevent Trump from running for office again in the future. Trump has blood on his hands. People died in the Capitol siege. This alone is reason enough to pursue a second impeachment. Should the House of Representatives act, senators must come together to disqualify Trump from public office in the future. Any vote to remove the president requires a two-thirds majority in the Senate, meaning that at least 19 Republicans would have to come to their senses and join Democrats and independents.
Democrats will face difficult decisions in the next few days. If they seek a second impeachment, the first weeks of Joe Biden’s presidency could be overshadowed by continued discussion of Trump. Some of them are therefore arguing the case for waiting until the new administration has settled in and taken vital steps toward tackling the coronavirus pandemic. Daily COVID-19 deaths are regularly 3,000 to 4,000 in the United States. It may be unprecedented, but Trump could be tried on impeachment charges even weeks after he has left office.
Many Trump supporters will believe that such steps prove that the political system is rigged. So be it.
Trump has dominated the Republican Party. If he is able to run for reelection in 2024, he will again take the party hostage. More than 74 million people voted for Trump in 2020. A few million could be added to that in 2024 were he permitted to keep rewriting reality with a view to returning to the White House.
It must be made clear to anyyone with any political responsibility that spreading lies and inciting hatred has consequences — and can end political careers. If it is not, the storming of the Capitol could prove to be only the tip of the iceberg.
This article has been adapted from German.
After Capitol riot, Congress must impeach Trump The British Journal Editors and Wire Services/ Deutsche Welle.