Those Who Play With Fire…

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Rioters Storm Capitol

Yesterday was my niece Rose’s birthday. So the first thing I did yesterday morning was phone her. She lives in Denver. After we chatted about what she planned to do to celebrate (take a long hike in the mountains), I said, “Gee, I hope you don’t end up with some catastrophe on your birthday, like I did. November 27 is the day that Milk and Moscone were assassinated in San Francisco. So every year for a long time, there was a memorial march on my birthday.”

You see, I had a presentiment — just a funny feeling — that things might go terribly wrong in Washington D.C. on the day that Congress was counting the Electoral College votes. Gosh, I can’t imagine where I got that feeling.

Oh wait. Maybe it was when I read that the Proud Boys had arrived a week early, their numbers so large they filled a hotel. I guess nobody in charge of security at the Capitol heard about that. That must be what happened.

I don’t know at this moment (6am on January 7) who exactly made the decisions about security in preparation for yesterday’s counting of the Electoral College vote by Congress. But whoever was in charge couldn’t have known that a White Supremacist group committed to violence, a group that President Trump had actually told to “Stand by” on national television, had gathered en masse in D.C. a week early. Because if they had, they would have been concerned about the safety of the members of Congress, ALL of whom would be meeting in the Capitol to certify (eventually) that Trump had lost the election! And certainly, NOTHING could be a higher priority to Capitol security than the physical safety of the human beings in Congress!

Because look at what the government did when Black Lives Matter came to protest at the Lincoln Monument about George Floyd’s murder by a cop!

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National Guard at Lincoln Monument during protest over George Floyd's murder

And they were only protecting a STATUE! That’s a lot of firepower to protect a statue.

Well, of course it’s a very important statue. And they were protecting it from BLACK people! That’s right. That’s why they needed the National Guard. Black people are so scary, aren’t they?

So what can we take away from yesterday’s terrifying invasion of Congress by White Supremacists and various Trump minions, in an effort to stop the certification of Joseph Biden as the next president of the United States? What do we need to remember, to understand?

ONE:

The most important thing we need to remember is that Trump was not put into office by a majority of American voters. He was installed by the Electoral College. Yesterday never would have happened if we had had a democratically elected President in 2016. The Electoral College is a profoundly undemocratic institution and we must abolish it!

TWO:

Those who play with fire will get burned!

The Republican Party has been playing with fire — ie enabling Trump — for five years now. The Republican Party is responsible for pushing the lie that the Biden’s election was fraudulent. Yes, so has the right-wing media. But without all the elected representatives howling along with Trump, we would not have had that mob disrupting and threatening Congress. Yes, the Republican Party has been completely complicit with Trump.

And now, Trump turns against THEM, and the mob becomes out of control. Now they’re all about “We have to work together” and “This is a democracy.” Now, McConnell, the enabler-in-chief, gets all statesman-like and bi-partisan. IT’s TOO LATE, MITCH! You’re a total hypocrite! At least the Proud Boys are HONEST about their fascistic goals.

Kevin McCarthy, the House minority leader, had planned to join his traitorous colleagues in their protest of the Electoral College vote. But when he looked down from his office window on the violence of the mob, he was SCARED and he said, “We all have some responsibility” for the chaos and violence. No Kevin, we don’t ALL have responsibility. But YOU have quite a bit. And so does every single Republican senator who refused to even consider evidence for Trump’s impeachment. Yes, we could have gotten rid of him then. And you wouldn’t be talking about the 25th Amendment NOW.

But this is not the Republican Party of Nixon’s time, a party that turned its back on Nixon over issues that wouldn’t even be noticed in the Trump Swampfest. It was his own party’s desertion of him that caused Nixon to resign. This time around, the Republican Party chose to play with fire until it incinerated itself.

THREE:

All Congresspeople who questioned the election results were undermining a democratic election and the peaceful transfer of power. They were explicitly or implicitly fomenting the mob. These elected politicians have violated their constitutional oath. THEY ARE TRAITORS AND THEY SHOULD BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE. THEY SHOULD BE EXPELLED FROM CONGRESS.

FOUR:

TRUMP IS DESPERATE. And that is because he is totally screwed if he cannot inspire an insurrection that installs him as President. His business empire is a house of cards, he’s got half a billion in debt coming due soon, and he’s going to be indicted up the wazoo as soon as he’s out of office, for his endless criminal activities. So the question arises:

What’s happening with the nuclear football?

Are people near the President pondering the possibility that he will want to use it on Iran? On us? Or are these the same people who decided to have fifteen policemen control a mob?

FIVE:

WE ARE THE OLDEST DEMOCRACY BUT WE ARE NOT THE STRONGEST DEMOCRACY. In fact, we have what would be described as a WEAK democracy. The President is chosen by the Electoral College, which has ended up choosing the loser of the popular vote three times — all of which have been disastrous. Senate seats are not apportioned democratically. And the Supreme Court justices are appointed for life. Other countries with stronger democracies do not have such laws. In fact, the only democratic institution in the federal government is the House of Representatives.

Folks, it’s time to change these things. Other countries have constitutional conventions where they debate what works and what doesn’t and then make decisions to improve how the country is governed. We need to do that.

Let’s not wait for our elected representatives to act. I propose that we begin the process with informal People’s Constitutional Conventions all over the country. Let’s gather together, look at what other stronger democracies do, discuss what’s right for us. Certainly, we must get rid of the Electoral College for starters. But do we want to have a run-off a month later of the top two candidates? Give the victory to whoever has a plurality even if they don’t have a majority? Use ranked choice voting? Any of these choices would be a huge improvement over the Electoral College, which has brought us to our current collapse.

Have we reached Bottom yet? I sure hope so.

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Written by

Terry Baum is an actress, director, teacher, filmmaker, political activist, and award-winning lesbian playwright. Her blog BAUMBLOG is a “Top 100 LGBTQ Blog.”

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