June 18, 2024

question of allegiances

Today’s Events in Historical Perspective
America’s Longest-Running Column Founded 1932
A question of allegiances
By Douglas Cohn and Eleanor Clift
          WASHINGTON – Members of Congress, as well as Vice President Mike Pence, are not paranoid; “They” really are coming after them. But who are “They?” Nearly half of the nation still supports Trump, and perhaps half of them are ardent, and perhaps half of the ardent are militant. Who knows?
          Trump’s brazenness in urging an amped-up mob to march on the Capitol has some historical relevance. In 1815, Napoleon escaped from the island of Elba, landed in the south of France, and commenced his march on Paris to reclaim the nation’s leadership. Troops under his once-loyal Marshal Ney were sent by King Louis XVIII to stop him, but when confronted, Napoleon opened his coat and said, “Let him who has the heart kill his Emperor!” No one did, not even Ney. Now, Trump is no Napoleon, but that is not the point. It is a question of unknown allegiances.
          There are millions of true believers in Pres. Donald Trump. They believe his enablers. They believe the pundits who lie for money. And they do not believe the facts. It matters not that nearly 60 judges, including Trump appointees, ruled against his unproven allegations of voter fraud or that the U.S. Senate voted 93-7 to validate his opponent’s victory. Even the Republican leader of the House, California Rep. Kevin McCarthy, reversed gears during the impeachment vote and declared that Trump bears responsibility for the trashing of the Capitol and the resulting loss of life. And he said that he strongly rebutted Trump’s insistence that the insurrectionists were Antifa.
          Ten Republican lawmakers joined Democrats in voting to impeach Trump. If it had been a secret vote, sources say many more Republicans in Congress would have supported impeachment. But these lawmakers fear for their personal safety, and the safety of their families, and they fear for their political lives if they cross Trump because he has such a strong grip on the GOP’s core constituency.
          Last week’s insurrection revealed the complicity of some Capitol police in opening the gates to the pro-Trump mob. An ongoing FBI investigation has also revealed the participation of some recent military veterans in the crowd as well as off-duty police and firemen in promoting the desecration of a sacred symbol of democracy. Even members of Congress are suspected of complicity.
          Now 20,000 National Guard troops are standing guard to maintain law and order during the Inauguration of President-elect Joseph R. Biden, prompting America’s most senior military leaders to publicly remind all members of the military that they took an oath to the Constitution, and not to any one man. This has never before been necessary, not even during the prelude to the Civil War when Southerners were allowed to follow their states openly and peacefully.
          The events of January 6 and the months leading up to that fateful day exposed the cracks in our democracy and the misplaced loyalty to a disgraced commander in chief. How deep and how extensive those cracks  threaten to reveal themselves between January 17 and January 20 when the insurrectionists are threatening to invade the country’s center of power in Washington, and at the same time make their case through potentially violent means at state capitols across the country.
          This is what the country is bracing to see. We are at a tipping point, and if momentum begins to shift away from Trump, only fanatical zealots will take the field, and a lonely field it will be. If not, the current polarization could develop into something unimaginable.
          “There is a tide in the affairs of men.           Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;           Omitted, all the voyage of their life           Is bound in shallows and in miseries.           On such a full sea are we now afloat,           And we must take the current when it serves,           Or lose our ventures.”
          So wrote William Shakespeare. So say the insurrectionists. May they lose their venture.
          Douglas Cohn’s latest books are World War 4: Nine Scenarios (endorsed by seven flag officers) and The President’s First Year: The Only School for Presidents Is the Presidency.
          Twitter:  @douglas_cohn
          © 2020 U.S. News Syndicate, Inc.
          Distributed by U.S. News Syndicate, Inc.

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