OPINION — What should our elected officials do next, now that President Donald Trump has incited a riot that resulted in a mob of Trump supporters rushing and overtaking the nation’s capitol and causing five deaths?
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., is expected to introduce articles of impeachment today. There is talk that Vice President Mike Pence may be considering invoking the 25th Amendment. Pundits working for various “news” organizations are suggesting that GOP lawmakers must go to the White House en masse and tell Trump he must resign, as they did in 1974, forcing the Richard Nixon resignation.
Or, they could do nothing. (They’re particularly good at doing nothing.) But, this is different. Five people died, one who was a Capitol Police Department officer, trying to protect the center of our Democracy.
Social media acted swiftly. Mark Zuckerberg shut down Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts, at least until after President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration. Jack Dorsey has permanently shut down his Twitter account, saying he continues to break its rules on glorifying violence. Apple, Amazon and Google have made it nearly impossible for Parler to continue business. Is this censorship? Yes.
Banners at a Trump rally prior to the riot and insurrection declared: “Fight for Trump,” and “Stop the Steal.” The president invited them to come Oct. 6 for “something big.” The president’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani suggested a “trial by combat.”
Let’s not reduce the discussion to a debate about the right to protest. There is no right to riot. The very specific right is: “of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” That’s it. There is no language allowing violence – no matter if the geographic location is the nation’s capitol or the streets of Portland or Baltimore.
President Trump incited a riot that resulted in five dead United States citizens, among them a military veteran and member of the Capitol Police Department. He should not be allowed to run for head of household at Mar-a-Lago. And, any person who is proven to have entered the Capitol building through a broken window or door should be tried, convicted and incarcerated. One wonders if they would be included among the felons for whom liberals would like to restore voting rights.
Will congress impeach; Pence invoke the 25th Amendment or the GOP encourage Trump to resign? Pence will not invoke the 25th unless Trump does one more stupid thing in the next 9 days, and even then, he hasn’t the votes in the cabinet to get it done. This, also would likely end Pence’s political career, which would make his presidential term the shortest in history.
Trump won’t resign, even though he should, if for no other reason than to spare the nation more chaos. But he thrives on chaos.
The House will impeach for incitement to insurrection, but will have to wait until after Trump’s out of office for a Senate trial at which he’ll likely be convicted, effectively ending Trump’s ability to run again.
Finally, there is much talk of the First Amendment, free speech and social media. Social media are not content-neutral, nor have they ever been. Nothing requires the New York Times or the Black Hills Pioneer to print anything the president says. Nothing requires Facebook or Twitter to give, at their expense, a forum for any politician, including the President of the United States. Neither does the First Amendment require Apple, Amazon or Google to include Parler among its application inventory or to host its network.
Trump is supposedly wealthy. If he wants to communicate with his followers, he can buy his own hosting company upon which he can host his own social medium and say whatever his own standards (or lack thereof) allow.
Meanwhile, awaiting President-elect Joe Biden, COVID-19 is killing Americans by the thousand, without regard for their political affiliations.
Michael Sanborn writes from Rapid City.
To read all of today's stories, Click here or call 642-2761 to subscribe to our e-edition or home delivery.