I have no empathy for the insurrectionists who tore through the Capitol, intent on overturning the results of our election and installing Donald Trump as some sort of king.
Many will be fired from their jobs and end up in prison, which is exactly what they deserve.
Nor do I believe that those involved in securing the Capitol who ignored warnings and put frontline officers in peril or those officers who posed for selfies or helped insurrectionists trample through the halls of Congress should avoid punishment.
But what about those who encouraged the actions of the insurrectionists — the elected officials, media outlets and corporate executives who profited from years of chaos and division? Will they be allowed to simply condemn the violence, then move on as if they couldn’t have predicted this outcome, as if they played no role in this shameful moment in our history?
For the past several years, many of us have reacted with shock and anger as Donald Trump broke one norm after another. We couldn’t understand how so many people, most especially our elected officials, could choose to ignore the president’s actions or worse yet, condone and embolden his disgraceful behavior.
Look at how he’s triggering the libs, they laughed when we took offense to him calling women dogs (among other things) and African nations shithole countries and telling sitting members of Congress to go back where they came from.
They shrugged off his Muslim travel ban, his “perfect call” with the Ukrainian president, and his attacks on federal judges and military families and attempted to justify and deflect blame when the children of migrants were taken from their parents and placed in cold, filthy cages fit for wild animals or serial killers, not toddlers in need of diaper changes and human touch.
And all of Trump’s lies? Totally worth it because he appointed conservative judges and cut taxes for wealthy Americans and corporations.
It’s only now — after a failed coup that sought to topple our democracy — that these same politicians and corporations and media outlets are finally alarmed enough to stop parroting and excusing Donald Trump.
But that’s not enough.
Some have recommended that Congress create an independent commission, much like the 9-11 Commission, to examine how we came to the events of January 6 and how we could prevent our nation from ever traveling down that same path.
I support this, though I believe many of us already understand how this happened. The question is, can we prevent it from happening again?
I believe we can, but not if our focus remains solely on security lapses and rioters. We must also hold the instigators and the enablers to account.
In Arizona, the seditious instigators have been obvious. They include GOP Chair Kelli Ward, U.S. Reps. Paul Gosar and Andy Biggs, state Rep. Mark Finchem and state senators Wendy Rogers and Kelly Townsend (among others).
This group of seditionists helped forward election conspiracies and lies in an attempt to disenfranchise millions of voters and overturn the election. Some even used not-so-coded language to hint at the possibility of using force. They haven’t backed down from their baseless claims, even after last week’s attempted coup, showing their allegiance is not to the country and our Constitution, but to Donald Trump. They should be removed from office.
But what about the enablers? State politicians such as Gov. Doug Ducey and Attorney General Mark Brnovich? Like so many elected Republicans, they courted and appeased Trump.
Some have suggested they’re off the hook. After all, Ducey certified Arizona’s election results, and Brnovich dropped his investigation into #sharpiegate when it became obvious it was nothing but an unfounded conspiracy.
But is doing what is legally required by law — basically, the bare minimum — really a profile in courage? Shouldn’t the governor and AG still provide a mea culpa for their love fest with a dangerous, dictator wannabe?
Ducey and allies have condemned the violence, but they’ve yet to condemn Donald Trump or take any responsibility whatsoever for their role in enabling dangerous rhetoric and the shattering of norms that offered Trump’s lies legitimacy and led to last week’s insurrection.
Instead, Republican enablers are using a new buzzword to talk about what comes next: unity.
We can hold the insurrectionists and officers accountable, but Trump — the individual responsible for inciting violence — is somehow above the law because, as the enablers now reason, consequences will impede unity. Let’s simply wash our hands of this debacle, unify and move on.
And if that’s what we do — simply move on — how will we prevent this from happening again? How will we convince millions of Americans who truly, honestly believe the election was stolen that they were duped?
MAGA diehards will not suddenly retreat or fade into the background. They have been emboldened, and some have already planned additional riots and violent attacks for the coming days and weeks.
We cannot thwart this until Trump and his instigators are removed from office and the enablers muster up the courage to do something they’ve failed to do these last four years: tell the truth.
Own up to their actions. Take responsibility. Commit to doing better.
If they cannot do this, then the voters who saved our country from fascism will need to do everything they can to fight against disinformation and ensure these enablers never hold office again. That is the only way our democracy will survive.