How will Republican lawmakers censure Donald Trump for his incendiary role in Wednesday’s attack on the US Capitol? Will they encourage the use of the 25th Amendment? Pressure him to resign? Support impeachment?
So far, as the Washington Post reported yesterday, “Republicans [are] largely silent about [the] consequences of [the] deadly attack and Trump’s role in inciting it . . . Republican leaders [have] yet to hold anyone accountable.” True, Senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania have called for Trump’s resignation, and Politico notes that several Republicans have expressed private support for Trump’s removal. Still, the collective response is silence . . .
. . . for which Eliana Johnson, guest host of today’s edition of the newsletter “Politico Playbook,” offers an answer. She describes a strategy one Republican operative called “wink, wink, nod, nod,” in which “lawmakers simply treat VP Mike Pence as president.”
It’s already been used, she notes, when Congressional leaders on Wednesday called Pence, not Trump, to employ the National Guard. Moreover, Mitch McConnell has apparently told others that “he does not plan to speak to Trump again.”
McConnell has enabled Donald Trump’s malfeasance since the start of this presidency. He’s winked and nodded for four years so that he could secure judgeships and tax cuts for the rich. Congressional Republicans, a few notable exceptions notwithstanding, have joined him. When Joe Biden won the election in November, these same Republicans once again remained silent. What harm, they asked, in allowing Trump to claim a fraudulent, stolen election?
I hope they found out.
Remaining silent, winking and nodding at Mike Pence, should not be an option for Republicans, certainly not for their leadership. They should be speaking on talk shows, posting to social media, and interviewing with newspapers — wherever they might reach uninformed citizens — to tell them the truth: Joe Biden won this election. No fraud. No steal. They should further speak out against their president: Donald Trump was wrong to incite violence. Finally, they should be doing whatever they can to get Trump out of office and to speak publicly about their efforts.
Clear, consistent messages could make a difference, at least for the future. If Republicans can’t get rid of Trump now, maybe they can undo some of the damage they’ve caused. For we cannot expect to preserve our democracy as long as election results remain in doubt for so many citizens. The angry, armed mob already broke through the gates, and we can’t afford for them to do so again.