Tom Clyde: Banana republic time
President Trump lost the election in November. The idea that he will go gently into that good night, with any shred of dignity or sense of country, is clearly wrong. This whole thing is at once unthinkable and, at the same time, completely predictable. He’s been laying the groundwork for this for four years, with the help of too many Republicans in the House and Senate, and a media machine that is willing to spew hate and lies for the sake of selling pharmaceutical advertising in prime time. So here we are. The idea that 2021 was going to be a better year didn’t last long.
Wednesday had been shaping up to be a remarkable day. Deer Valley had just opened the X-Files trees, and the skiing was as good as it gets. The sun was out, the place was more or less empty, and from Empire, you could see forever. If the season had ended Wednesday (which given the plague mess all around us isn’t out of the question), it would have been completely satisfying. We did the hike three times and skied untracked all the way down on each run. There wasn’t anything left in me for another lap. On the way down to the base, my phone was pinging non-stop. Whatever it was could wait. I got to the car and learned that, from all outward appearances, there had been an attempted coup, and the United States Capitol was under the control of the tinfoil hat brigade, egged on by our deranged game show host president.
Shots were fired in the hallways, and members of Congress cowered under their desks. Although many of them have been spinelessly complicit in all of this crap, it’s not the way we do things around here. I was hearing it on the radio, and didn’t see the actual pictures until I got home. Flags not of the United States of America were draped about the seat of our government. Some redneck militiaman was seated at the receptionist’s desk in Nancy Pelosi’s office, taking selfies with his feet up on the desk. At least there is evidence for his prosecution, though apparently evidence, facts and reality don’t apply any more.
Since Trump’s loss in November, with each step of this descent, I’ve thought, well, that’s over. He can’t possibly take this farce any further. We can move on now. Math still works. This really can’t go on for another round of craziness from Four Seasons Total Landscaping. The election results were counted and recounted, the recounts challenged, the challenges duly heard. There was no actual evidence to support the claims being made. The counts were accurate. State election officials, state courts and federal courts rejected the challenges. The U.S. Supreme Court, with a third of them being Trump’s own appointees, declined to intervene. Trump’s own cybersecurity guy said the election was as secure as any election has been — and got fired for speaking the truth.
So the only thing left is an armed insurrection that seized the Capitol and prevented the Congress from doing its job. Meanwhile, the stock market went up 437 points while the nation’s capitol was under siege.
Over the next few hours, the police were able to gain control and clear the building. Eventually, members of Congress crawled out from under their desks and, looking surprisingly calm, pulled up their socks and masks and got back to work. The whole thing is such a fiasco, with so many members of Congress fully complicit in the whole caper, that there was little joy in seeing things functioning again. Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley did not withdraw his objection, though many others did. So the pointless debate about whether to accept the Electoral College vote dragged into the night.
The coup attempt was put down, at least for the night, and Congress did its thing. But it’s not over. Trump has gone mad as King Leer. There’s no telling what he might do in the next 11 days. Some news outlets reported that the National Guard was called out in Washington to deal with the violence not by Trump, but by Vice President Pence. I don’t know that he has that authority. It’s not clear who is in charge. Most likely nobody. The Cabinet is staffed with acting officials, filling out the rest of the terms of their fired predecessors.
We’ve got 11 more days of this insanity, and then Biden will be sworn in. Will the Marines have to escort Trump out of the White House? It feels like this once-great nation has officially joined the ranks of the banana republics. So much for Reagan’s “shining city on the hill.” We’ll get through it. We survived the Civil War, after all, though Joe Biden is no Abraham Lincoln.
I wonder what the North Koreans are up to this week?
Tom Clyde practiced law in Park City for many years. He lives on a working ranch in Woodland and has been writing this column since 1986.
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The transfer of power is one of the miracles of the American system of government, writes columnist Tom Clyde. On Wednesday, he was pleased to see that “normal prevailed” after a tenuous post-election period.