A Bridge Too Far

A Bridge Too Far

Trump has been defeated, humiliated, banned, censored, abandoned, impeached, and soon very possibly prosecuted, so what will become of the country he left behind?

By David Todd McCarty | Monday, January 11, 2021

In the waning months, of what turned out to be an endless summer, the signs appeared in yards across Cape May County declaring this to be “Trump Country.” We were told to prepare for a well of liberal tears, as there was no way Donald Trump could lose, such was the energy and excitement surrounding his rule across America. Polls and pundits were meaningless. This was a new world, with new rules. Political parties became secondary. You were either for Trump, or you were against Trump, and as Megyn Kelly said, those who stood against him would “rue the day.”

Then Trump lost. 

He didn’t lose by a little either, but by a lot. It wasn’t even close. After 42 legal challenges (of which they have won exactly zero), Trump was defeated by over 7 million votes and 74 electoral college votes. For comparison, in the 2000 Presidential election, which was contested in court for weeks and ultimately went to the Supreme Court, George Bush won Florida by a grand total of 537 votes, giving him a razor margin of 271 electoral college votes, despite Gore getting 543,895 more votes than Bush. Now that was a close election. Seven million votes are not close. It’s a pretty crushing, and decisive defeat with today’s polarized electorate. 

But Republicans have long believed that nothing should get in the way of a good story, so they went along with Donald Trump’s claim that the election was rigged, stolen, or otherwise somehow taken from him. As usual, Trump didn’t just claim that he had won, but that he had won huge, that he had in fact won in a landslide but that deep state actors had subverted the entire process. 

Trump and his usual band of sycophants didn’t present any evidence to support their claims, just one ridiculous, absurd lawsuit after another. All were dismissed, most with prejudice, meaning they were so meritless, they couldn’t be refiled or even appealed.

It soon became clear that there was no path to victory for Trump, and most of the Republican establishment began to reluctantly admit that there was no way forward. They still didn’t concede or admit defeat, lest they provoke the rage of their Dear Leader, who was ready to turn on anyone who didn’t follow in lockstep.

Then on the day that the electoral college votes would be certified by Congress, an event so dull in its formality that it typically passes without notice, the President called on his supporters, the angriest and most of brazen of them, the ones who had traveled to Washington, D.C. at his bidding, to march to the Capitol and demand that he be forced to remain in office despite the democratic process he had clearly lost. 

They did as he commanded. They marched down Pennsylvania Avenue, fought with police, crashing through their hastily-erected barricades, using pepper spray, clubs, and fists, driving the police back until they were forced to allow them to wander the halls of the Capitol building at will. They broke windows, searched for lawmakers and the Vice President himself, with evil intent. They defaced government property, broke windows and doors, allegedly smearing blood and shit, and terrorizing the country. 

One woman, trying to crawl through a broken window to get to lawmakers, was shot and killed by police. Later that same evening, a Capitol Police officer succumbed to injuries sustained while fighting the rioters and died from what was allegedly hemorrhaging of the brain, reportedly after being struck in the head with a fire extinguisher.

Photo by Asap PANG on Unsplash

A week later, there still have been no briefings by the White House, the FBI, or the Capitol Police. Nothing to tell us what happened or why or who was to blame.

This past week, lawmakers in New Jersey met to vote on a non-binding resolution denouncing the violent insurrection, and calling for the removal of the President either by invoking the 25th Amendment or through the process of impeachment. The resolution, sponsored by State Senator Ronald Rice, a Democrat from Camden and chair of the Legislative Black Caucus, “Strongly condemns President Trump and extremist protestors who breached United States Capitol and urges his removal from office.” 

The resolution accused the President of inciting his “extremist supporters” to occupy the United States Capitol in an attempt to disrupt and thwart the final certification of the 2020 presidential election. “These violent insurgents vandalized lawmakers’ offices and mockingly sat at the desk of the Speaker of the House; smashed in windows, looted art, and destroyed property; and infiltrated the chambers of the United States Senate, with one protestor shouting from the dais that ‘Trump won the election!’”

The resolution passed the Senate 24-4, and a matching resolution passed the Assembly 47-8 with 20 lawmakers abstaining.

State Senator Mike Testa, R-Cumberland, co-chair of Trump’s New Jersey re-election campaign, said “This resolution is not simply condemning the loathsome criminal acts. It is magnifying the polarizing rhetoric that threatens the very fabric of our republic… Rather than causing more divide, we should be bridge builders.”

Republican lawmakers called for unity to move the country forward and took exception to language in the resolution saying Trump “has consistently violated his constitutional oath to faithfully execute the duties of the office of president of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

That’s what Senator Testa believes Donald Trump is, a bridge-builder. Republicans on the news and on social media have done precisely what we have come to expect, to deflect, to blame others, to offer whataboutisms, to argue that everyone but Donald Trump and their precious party are to blame. Trump has taught them well and whenever they are in trouble, they revert back to the one place they are most comfortable, as victims.

On Sunday, Middle Township Mayor and Committeeman Tim Donohue took to Facebook to complain about what he called “cancel culture” and what he believes to be an attack on the First Amendment. 

He wrote, “People are now being fired from their jobs because they went to Washington to peacefully protest last Wednesday. These are people that never went near the Capitol Building. People who broke no laws. People are being silenced and purged from the hi-tech public square by the tens of thousands. Why? For daring to disagree. Anyone who ever worked in the Trump Administration is being blackballed from working in corporate America. 

“So it begins….mankind has been here before. Freedom is the exception in human history. Oppression is the rule. It begins with extreme propaganda, creation of lists of undesirables to convince the masses that a certain portion of the population is problematic for society. 

“It then moves on to the dehumanization of those people. Then businesses owned by these people are boycotted, looted, burned and shut down. Then these people are blacklisted. They can’t get hired. They lose their healthcare. They can’t get credit or buy a house. Their children are bullied and ostracized. Their neighbors are urged to rat them out. They face public shaming and might require re-education, for their own good. 

“They they start to round them up….”

Presumably, Donohue is also one of the “bridge-builders” Senator Testa was talking about—a unifier, a Republican, and the ardent Trump supporter that he is. You would hope that he too would be looking to move forward, accept the loss, and find a way to rebuild democracy.  

But instead, they choose to echo the incendiary language of hysteria to cause people to fear, not just policy decisions they disagree with, but the very people they disagree with. It’s not about the business of running the government, because they’ve made it personal.  

Over 42% of voters in Cape May County voted against Donald Trump. This is clearly not a majority, but it’s hardly a minute fraction. It is not an amount that an elected official should sneer at. But that is precisely the feeling you get when you look at the language Republicans like Donohue and Testa use when they refer to Democrats such as Governor Murphy or President-Elect Biden. They do not just disagree with them, they despise them, and those who voted for them as well.

Republicans have been demonizing Democrats for well over two decades and it has finally reached a fever pitch where armed insurgents are willing to take the law into their own hands, storm government offices, overrun the seat of government, to assault and even kill if they feel it’s warranted. Rule of law, democratic ideals, and the peaceful transfer of power are seemingly things of the past.

In the State Assembly, Minority Leader Jon Bramnick, R-Union, said that language in the resolution forced members of his caucus to abstain for fear of political retribution from Trump hardliners, and suggested that Democrats should work with Republicans on a more limited, bipartisan resolution that condemned Wednesday’s violence without invoking the President.

Sen. Troy Singleton, D-Burlington, pointed out that “calls for unity without accountability always ring hollow. In fact, unity is impossible without accountability.”

What should we take from these calls by Republicans to embrace unity, yet who are unwilling to admit defeat or accept responsibility? What does it say when your own mayor is posting fear-mongering rants to social media in an effort to inflame passions and incite distrust. What can we deduce from leadership that causes its citizens to fear their own government, or worse, to fear one another? 

They are not building bridges, not in America, because that is a bridge too far.

Follow David Todd McCarty on Twitter @davidtmccarty and The Standard @capemaystandard

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