Was The January 6th Riot An Insurrection Or A Coup?
Like just about everyone else, I watched the impeachment trial hoping against hope that Trump would get it right in the ass. I knew he wouldn’t, I knew there weren’t enough GOP votes to being him down. But hope springs eternal, correct?
The most powerful part of the trial, at least for me, was the testimony which revealed that Trump was asked again and again to mouth up and tell the rioters to stop what they were doing, leave the Capitol and go home. He never once issued any kind of verbal command to the rioters, almost all of whom were either carrying Trump flags, or wearing MAGA hats or both. His silence, as was pointed out again and again, was a tacit admission that he approved of the revolt.
Why didn’t Trump say something? Why did he wait until after the cops started to restore order and the rioters got bored before he tweeted that he ‘loved’ all of the Capitol invaders and that they should go home ‘in peace?’ I’ll tell you why.
I can’t think of another ‘coup’ or ‘insurrection’ that has ever taken place without someone designating themselves as the actual leader of the event. When Daniel Shays led the 1786 tax revolt which bears his name, he was out there, running around with his rifle, and ultimately hiding out in the woods for several years after the revolt failed. When a bunch of colonialists revolted against King George in 1776, they signed a Declaration of Independence, remember? When the slave-holding states rebelled against the United States, they elected a President who would have been strung up by his neck except he was pardoned after the Civil War. His inauguration in 1861 is pictured above.
What I find most interesting about the MAGA movement is the fact that Donald Trump has never claimed that he happens to occupy any leadership position at all. He happens to own the MAGA copyright, which lets him stick a buck in his pocket for every MAGA hat, t-shirt or banner that is sold. But while the letter he released after the impeachment vote says that the MAGA movement Has just ‘begun,’ I note that his latest defiant broadside doesn’t identify him as the leader of that movement, if only because he’s still pretending to be President of the United States.
If Trump were really serious about exercising some kind of parallel political authority based on the ‘illegal’ election of Kammie and Joe, he would set up a rival governmental structure, designate a physical location for the MAGA nation, call an inaugural meeting of a MAGA legislature and get down to work. Shouldn’t the MAGA headquarters already be established at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach?
That’s how you execute a real rebellion against a government; that’s how you give your supporters an opportunity to express how they really feel. You don’t lead a rebellion or a coup against an established government by standing up in front of a crowd, telling them to ‘fight like hell’ and then not saying another word.
I hate to say it, but I still believe that the MAGA movement is basically a marketing con job which is no different than Trump University or any of the other marketing gimmicks that Trump has rolled out over the years. And as long as my friends in the liberal media continue to treat anything that pops out of Trump’s mouth as ‘news,’ he’ll get away with it again.
If everyone is so worried about the possibility of a MAGA-led insurrection or a MAGA-led coup, why don’t they all simply decide to ignore Trump no matter what he says? Why did The New York Times, The Washington Post, Reuters and everyone else have to quote Trump calling the impeachment a ‘witch hunt?’ If everyone’s so worried about an insurrection, why give him any media attention or space at all?
Let’s just remember that the 1st Amendment gives everyone the ‘right’ to say whatever they choose. It also gives everyone the ‘right’ to ignore what someone else says. In that respect, I ask everyone to read this op-ed.