THE DAY DEMOCRACY DIED We will never give up!” #45 fires up the mob at his Save America Rally. The election was stolen from us…We will never concede.” He stokes fear. “If you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country any more.” This coup was planned and advertised on social media. #45 tweeted, “Big protest in D.C. Be there, will be wild!” They came from all directions, ready to hit the streets. Armed Proud Boys. Q-Anon T-shirts. MAGA diehards. Gullible pawns and street thugs, shoulder to shoulder, eager for trial by combat. Eager for revolution. “Stop the steal!” thunders #45. “Keep up the fight!” “Take back the country.” The mob eats up the lies, and the lies feed their appetite for vengeance, accelerate their frenzy to smash, crush, extinguish, vanquish those evildoers gathered inside, gathered to count the votes of state Electors: to declare Biden president-elect, 306 to 232. “I know that everyone here will soon be marching to the Capitol building,” says #45, egging them on. “I will be with you.” (He got in his limo and left.) As rioters near the Capitol, the dam breaks. An American flag is ripped off its pole and replaced with a TRUMP flag. Someone erects a gallows. White fists pump the air Protestors pepper-spray police, bash them with poles. Vandals batter down the doors of the Capitol Building, leaving a trail of wreckage: glass everywhere, cracked plaster, overturned desks, trashed offices. Security is overwhelmed. Emergency lockdown! Congressmen and women flee, hide under furniture. The looting begins. Out go lamps, chairs, laptops. A rioter in body paint and horns carries off a podium. Clouds of tear gas fill the Rotunda. In the melee, one woman is shot, dead. A young cop is bludgeoned to death. So—on January 6, 2021, over 150 years after the Civil War, Confederate flags wave in Senate chambers for the first time. This brand marks a new brother-against-brother conflict: a war of law vs. power, a war of service vs. greed, a war of democracy vs. dictatorship. From the White House, #45 Twitters: “We love you. You’re very special… Remember this day forever.” World leaders watch the farewell riot, appalled. #45 watches, too. Watches his TV screen, smiling. He has groomed his militia carefully with lies and false hope. He lit the fuse and watched it explode. Sent a message to henchmen, like Pence, about loyalty-- or else. When the dust settles, 6 Senators and 121 Representatives still vote to accept his conspiracy line, call the election “rigged.” Tomorrow, some outrage and finger pointing. So what? No one can touch him. He won.
GOING VIRAL A virus isn’t interested in storming the perimeter; a virus attacks the control tower, the nucleus of DNA patterns, seat of future growth. A virus seizes the reins, takes command, changes direction, riding roughshod over objections. We’ve seen it happen. In nursing homes. In families. In the nation's control tower: the White House. How did a failed realtor and TV star breeze through the winnowing process and land smack-dab in the oval office? Why do the Come-to-Jesus people think he’s the new Messiah? Is it possible that his racism is an attraction? His misogyny? His lying? Or are these new directions enabled by frightened Republicans suffering through an abusive relationship? Masks can’t ward off this virus. Too many supporters have masks over their eyes, refusing to see. Hand-washing is irrelevant. After the insurrection at the Capitol, too many Congressmen are doing the Pontius Pilate hand-washing in public while backing presidential conspiracies when it comes to a vote. This virus, like all viruses, can be blunted by stronger immune systems. Perhaps this brush with demagoguery will make us stronger. But, like all viruses, it can mutate. When all Hell breaks loose, and it won’t be long-- we shouldn’t be surprised.