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Trump: The Riot and His Speech, Impeachment, and Legacy

Updated: Jan 27, 2021

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi displays a signed an article of impeachment against President Donald Trump. Photograph by Stefani Reynolds / Getty
Article of impeachment against President Donald Trump. Photograph by Stefani Reynolds / Getty

Americans on the right need to take an honest look at the damage done to conservatism under Trump's presidency, especially during the three months between the election and Biden's inauguration.

Our fellow citizens on the left, long angered and disgusted with Trump's loose relationship with the truth, schoolyard antics, and narcissism were given the golden goose with the riot at the Capitol. Every leftist caricature of the right was "proven" true by the New Yorker (and other) footage. Fanatical, lawless, vulgar, impetuous, violent, beyond reason... In short, a clear and present danger to law, order, unity, and democracy.

Listen to the rioter's "prayer" in the Senate chamber. Hear them invoke Christ's name. Now, the atheists and agnostics among us, who have long believed that religion was a pesky mosquito in the halls of civic discourse, now see it as a murder hornet that facilitates lawless, ignorant mobs that threaten our very way of life and must be crushed.

I'm not saying that this perspective is an accurate representation of legitimate conservatism - far from it - but the left believes it has now seen the "full spectrum" of the Republican party, from top (Trump) to bottom (riotous rednecks) and have, understandably, found it wanting.

The left will speak from the moral high ground, as they see it, with the full backing of the institutions of media, academia, and entertainment. That will translate into an increased fervor and self-assured righteousness as they seek to impose their agenda with little opposition. The Overton Window, already on a leftward trajectory, will move farther, faster.

The principles of conservatism and America's founding are not taught - at least not in our schools or our culture. There are a few clear, intelligent voices in academia, such as Lawrence Reed, Thomas Sowell, Shelby Steele, Jason Riley, Peter Robinson - and a few intelligent voices speaking to popular culture, like Ben Shapiro, Dave Rubin, Matt Walsh, and others - but each of these requires listeners to come up for air to even hear them... come up for air, because the water we are swimming in is Progressive and increasingly Wokeist, in nature. Progressivism, while well-intentioned, centralizes power and lays the foundation for authoritarian, even totalitarian, government. Wokeism, while drawing attention to legitimate inequities and suffering, directly advocates for oppression and the downfall of western civilization.

That is Trump's legacy, for as much good as he arguably did, the Capitol Riot is attributable at least in part to his irresponsible speech. And that is what he will be remembered for.

To my fellow conservatives, we must acknowledge that Trump's speech has been narcissistic, irresponsible, dangerous, and very often stupid during the past four years. But does that warrant impeachment?

The articles of impeachment and mainstream media are using the word "incite" to describe Trump's actions on that fateful day. I am unaware, however, of any published legal opinions that provide a justification of that charge in a legal sense. If any reader can point me to one, I'd appreciate it.

I don't believe the case for *legal incitement* would be upheld in a court of law. He didn't incite violence, in the strict legal sense of the term, though he did raise the temperature. Read his rally speech from the 6th. So much imbecility - it reads as though he were drunk. What a disaster. I'm reminded of Gandolf's description of Gollum: "but through the endless screams and inane babble, they discerned two words":

Peaceful. Patriotic.

He did also say many other things like "fight", "we will not concede", "walk down Pennsylvania Avenue", but he never commanded or even inferred that people should storm the Capitol, destroy property, beat police officers, take politicians hostage, or any of the other terrible things done (or intended) that day.

Many politicians and leaders, including Obama and Sharpton, have used inflammatory language after which their followers have gone and done terrible things, including kill people. But they weren't held legally responsible. And neither can Trump.

Trump should have been censured, not impeached. The grounds for impeachment are shaky. The grounds for censure are not. Impeachment only further divides our country and convinces the right that the left is punitive, vindictive, and advocates cancel culture. This is not the unity that President Biden has called for. Speaking of which, I share conservatives' frustrations with Biden's rote hypocrisy. His passionate call for unity, immediately followed by radically partisan leftist executive orders was absolutely predictable. We have returned to politics-as-normal where our elected officials say one thing and do another.

This is what is so frustrating about Trump. After a highly divisive Obama presidency, Trump had the opportunity to uphold conservative principles and educate and unite Americans on both sides of the aisle. He rightly called out the media for their bias. He rightly called out the Woke crowd for the destructive Critical Race Theory they espouse.

But he demonized the entire left. His rhetoric furthered the divide unnecessarily. He abjectly failed to reach across the aisle to reasonable Liberals and Progressives to build on common ground. He focused attention on and demanded loyalty to himself rather than conservative principles.

He alienated and terrified the left so that they turned out in record numbers to elect Biden. His legacy could have been eight years of conservative governance plus a runway to further conservative victories and bipartisan agreement. Instead, he gave us four years and a heavily damaged and divided Republican Party, with many seeking to split off to a new Patriot Party and with the left viewing the right as radical, unreasonable, and violent.

It is not enough to elect someone who will be "our guy" and who will vilify the other side and treat them as enemies. As flawed as the Progressive perspective is and as dangerous as the Woke ideology is, we must strive to understand them, reach out to them, and defuse their error.

Our country is behaving like a ship, rocking on stormy seas from side to side depending on which party is in power. The rocking is getting more violent and we'll eventually founder if we don't seek to stabilize it. That means understanding those we oppose and seeking to work with them, not against them. I don't know if that's possible anymore, but I have to hope that it is. That doesn't mean they make it easy. They don't. But the alternative is terrible to contemplate.

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