Insurrection: Are We Really Surprised?

by William Ehrhart

Let’s review the facts.

Our 45th President openly bragged about grabbing women by their genitals and declared that he could murder someone in broad daylight in Manhattan without consequences. He has paid hush money to prostitutes he was “screwing” (please substitute the F-bomb) even as his third wife was nursing their newborn child.

Our 45th President has declared that he and North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un “fell in love,” and that Russian dictator Vladimir Putin “is really very much of a leader,” while calling German chancellor Angela Merkel “stupid,” French President Emmanuel Macron “nasty,” and Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau “two-faced.”

Our 45th President has gone through secretaries of defense, secretaries of state, and national security advisors like he’s trying on new shoes, Imelda Marcos-style, looking for a pair that might fit. He has had a 91 percent turnover rate among senior-level advisors since he took office.

Our 45th President has, from even before he took the oath of office, declared that any news he doesn’t like is “fake news,” while he himself has subscribed to what his senior counselor called “alternative facts.” Speaking of lies, our Liar-in-Chief has so far told over 20,000 of them, averaging 50 per day every single day of his presidency.

Our 45th President has openly mocked the disabled, urged police “not to be gentle” with Black Lives Matter protestors, incited his supporters to punch out his critics, praised “body-slammers,” called the leadership of the National Rifle Association “great American patriots,” repeatedly demanded that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton be thrown into prison, and described his own former secretary of defense and ex-Marine James Mattis as “the world’s most overrated general.”

Our 45th President has failed at just about everything he has put his hand to. Trump Taj Mahal, Trump’s Castle, Trump Plaza Casinos, Trump Plaza Hotel, Trump Hotels and Casinos Resorts, and Trump Entertainment Resorts have all gone bankrupt. Trump Steaks, GoTrump, Trump Airlines, Trump Vodka, Trump Mortgage, Trump: The Game, Trump Magazine, Trump University, Trump Ice, The New Jersey Generals, Tour de Trump, and Trump Network have all gone belly up.

Our 45th President promised to build a wall to keep Mexican immigrants out and insisted that the Mexicans themselves would pay for it. He promised to “drain the swamp,” but instead placed family members and close friends into key positions of power within his administration, earned millions of dollars by violating the Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution, directing U.S. taxpayers’ dollars to Mar-a-Lago, Trump Turnberry Golf Resort in Scotland, and various Trump hotels, and arranged for his daughter Ivanka to receive fast-tracking approval for seventeen different trademarks from the Chinese government in return for lifting trade sanctions.

Our 45th President has pardoned liars, perjurers, corrupt politicians, war criminals, and murderers. He has been exposed for defrauding the U.S. government and the state of New York of millions and millions of dollars in taxes, and cheated his own niece and nephew out of their fair share of their grandfather’s inheritance.

Our 45th President has called the white supremacist KKKers in Charlottesville, Virginia, “very fine people.” He has claimed that removing statues of men who waged war on our nation—that’s called treason, by the way—in an effort to keep millions of Americans enslaved is “an attempt to wipe out our history.” He has directed rightwing armed militia groups to “stand by.”

Our 45th President began laying the groundwork for his claim that his electoral defeat would be fraudulent many months before the election ever took place. He continued to claim the election had been stolen from the moment Pennsylvania’s electoral votes were declared for Joe Biden a few days after the election, and he has continuously claimed a “stolen election” ever since.

We have been watching this dangerous buffoon for the past forty years. He has been performing his disgraceful carnival act on the world stage for the past four years. He has been regularly and consistently demeaning the dignity of the presidency, to the detriment of the nation, while enablers from Ted Cruz, Mitch McConnell, and Josh Hawley to Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson, and Laura Ingraham have encouraged and egged him on.

And now we are shocked that Trump-inspired insurrectionists finally stormed the Capitol building in the capital city of the United States of America, smashing, looting, vandalizing, and desecrating the very heart of American government?

Now Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, Special Envoy Mick Mulvaney, Deputy National Security Advisor Matthew Pottinger, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce John Costello, Acting Chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisors Tyler Goodspeed, and Melania Trump Chief of Staff Stephanie Grisham have all resigned, claiming in various ways to have “reached a breaking point”? After One thousand, four hundred, and forty-seven days of this crap? Only now have they’re reached a breaking point? How courageous.

Now Lindsey Graham says, “Enough’s enough. Count me out”? Now Mitch McConnell says he never wants to speak to our 45th President again? Now Ted Cruz calls what happened Wednesday a “despicable terrorist attack,” but denies any responsibility for what happened on January 6th?

Oh, please! I mean, just, for cryin’ in a bucket: PULEEZE!!!

How could what happened on Wednesday surprise anyone?! You’d have to be deaf, dumb, blind, and living under a rock in Outer Mongolia not to have seen this coming for days, weeks, months, and years.

But what do we do now? What do we do with the 74,000,000 of our fellow citizens who voted for this madman even after the past four years of lunacy and chaos? I know what I’d like to do, but it would be neither ethical nor practical nor legal. So we simply have to live with them and hope that somehow there are still enough sane Americans to neutralize the damage these damaged people can do.

I may be pipe dreaming, but I find myself thinking back to when I was 16 years old and watching the Alabama police attacking peaceful civil rights marchers in Selma with vicious dogs, billy clubs, and high-powered fire hoses. A lot of Americans watched that unfolding, and had to ask themselves, “How could this happen in the United States of America?” Nothing changed overnight, but the weight of public opinion and political will did in fact begin to shift in favor of putting an end to the segregated South and Jim Crow America.

What happened last Wednesday in Washington was certainly a very different situation. Indeed, the perpetrators at the Capitol, in another time and place, would have been the ones using vicious dogs and billy clubs. But I can only hope that enough Americans watched what happened on January 6th, and have and will continue to ask themselves, “How could this happen in the United States of America?”

And then I hope they will make up their minds to be and act and do whatever they can to see that such a disgraceful scene is never enacted again. Nor such a disgraceful human being ever again elected to the presidency.


W. D. Ehrhart, Ph.D., is a former sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps with a Purple Heart and a Combat Action Ribbon. His latest book is Thank You for Your Service: Collected Poems, McFarland, 2019.

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