Neither last week’s insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, nor the impeachment of President Donald J. Trump by the House of Representatives, and the forthcoming Senate trial to convict Trump, will solve the political challenges that the United States currently has.
The more pressing question is how can we unite the country that is so geographically big and politically and ideologically divided, maintain peace and stability, promote equality, bring prosperity to the our citizens in the coming years, and in essence protect democracy?
There are short term and long-term solutions to consider.
Let’s start with the short term.
First, we should continue with the Senate’s trial of Trump, even if this process extends past the inauguration of Biden. Trump must be held accountable. Not holding a trial will signal that he and others like him can continue to commit any crime they choose and will definitely divide the country further because there are millions who believe he’s not fit to govern. If the trial is successful and he’s convicted (meaning 17 GOP senators will have to defy fear), then we will have held him accountable, deprived him of important benefits that outgoing presidents are afforded, and more importantly reinforced a legal precedent.
Sedition will not be tolerated. Actions have consequences. At the very least, a conviction will signal that no one, not least a president, can incite a mob with murderous intentions to storm the seat of the legislative branch of government.
Second, all individuals who are accurately identified as storming the Capitol should be charged with committing specific federal crimes, afforded due process, and be given appropriate sanctions. Additionally, where possible these individuals should charged with appropriate state relevant crimes. Convictions at the state level will minimize the possibility that they can be pardoned in the future by a sympathetic Republican President.
Third, Section 3 of the 14th amendment of the Constitution, that allows elected representatives that have “engaged in insurrection or rebellion or given aid or comfort to the enemies” of the state, (such as the so-called sedition caucus) should be expelled from public office. This will send a strong message to those elected representatives pushing a false and disproven narrative supporting a stolen election and flaming the fires of insurrection. They have misinterpreted their right to freedom of speech versus participation as governed. Those who outright lie to their constituents and the American people in support of personal gain should be punished. Those who govern by fear that their voters will get mad them have no place in government. These lawmakers are the sedition caucus. Many of who were elected/reelected on the same ballots they claim are fraudulent and willfully encourage rebellion against a lawfully elected president.
Fourth, Social media organizations should continue to crack down on users who foment violence. It was long overdue that Facebook, Twitter and Amazon implemented lifetime bans on Trump and Extreme right organizations. This should be extended to members of congress and state legislatures who spread lies about the recent elections.
Fifth, news media organizations like Fox, etc. that push false narratives and ideological agendas of fear, intimidation, alternative reality must be held accountable, through government failure to renew licenses, and citizen activism (contacting the network, boycotting advertisers, etc.)
In the long term we should continue to do:
– make efforts to implement proportional representation and rank ordered choice voting,
– boycott corporations that enable the spreading of lies, misinformation, conspiracy theories, and try to buy shares in the corporations in order to vote to replace board members and change the policies and priorities of these organizations.
– fund organizations that fight for democratic values such as the American Civil Liberties Union, anti-racism organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center, etc.
– adequately financially support our schools and revise what is taught to emphasize a curriculum of emancipatory democracy that emphasizes Classics, Civics and Government, Critical Thinking, Logic, & Information Literacy. We need to teach History in a way that acknowledges the bestiality of slavery, the economic benefit that slavery brought, and that takes a new moral, social, and economic view about its legacy and implications for social and justice for all
I hope that these initiatives can have a positive effect on our country, creating a place where human rights, civil rights, science, and democracy is respected.
All decisions have consequences. Even a failure to act has consequences. This will be long and protracted challenge and it is bound to distract the Biden administrations ability to govern, but it is necessary and moral to punish the President, those who supported or enabled sedition, including the news media, social media companies, and GOP legislators which enabled this dark stain on our democracy.
Photo: “Biden Inauguration – Locked Down Capitol,” by Geoff Livingston