January 6 Attempted Coup – Where Now?Email from ChooseDemocracy.us, January 7, 2021, 8:00 AM PDT
What we saw yesterday is the final coda of Trump’s term. In the past 24 hours we’ve watched the Senate swing to Democrats and the storming of the Capitol Building, with 1 person killed by police and 3 others from “medical emergencies.”
The critical step for a transfer of power happened: Congress certified Biden’s victory. This was over the objections of eight senators and 139 representatives — less than expected but still highly significant.
The attempted coup has not succeeded in changing the outcome. Trump’s weak tea offer that “there will be an orderly transition on January 20th” cements that point, even as his continued claims of a stolen election tell us it wasn’t a breakthrough moment for him.
The events make viable Trump’s impeachment and we encourage people to call for it.
Our reflections this morning:
THIS IS TRUMP’S ATTEMPTED COUP
Trump called for yesterday’s rally (“Big protest in DC on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!”). Then he spoke at the rally:
- “We’re going to have to fight much harder. We are going to walk down to the Capitol, and we’re going to cheer on our brave senators, congressmen and women, and we are probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them. Because you will never take back our country with weakness.”
The crowd listened. Egged on by Trump constantly telling them the country’s election had been stolen, they acted accordingly and attempted (in their minds) to seize the Capitol back for the people.
As you discuss this on social media and with friends, please make this point clear: yesterday’s actions were direct outcomes of Trump. The radical actors were not only the protestors scaling the walls, it was led by Trump. This is Trump’s failed coup.
And it was not exclusively Trump. There is severe hypocrisy by Trump Republicans who backed this all along the way — Mitch McConnell, Lindsay Graham, Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, and the list goes on.
We are glad they decried the violence yesterday. But they planted the seeds. When they talk about a stolen election or non-existent fraud, they are still watering them. We will not forget that.
THE POLICE RESPONSE
Like many, we’ve been struck by how poorly the police prepared for this. Naturally this kicks up extreme rumors they were in bed with the planners. NY Times reports a variety of jaw-dropping acts of ineptitude, at best (from police cowering as protestors stormed the building to possibly opening barricades for protestors).
The side-by-side images of the treatment received by previous black protestors versus the overwhelmingly white crowd of Trump supporters is breath-taking. It is an example of how racism plays into policing. The Capitol Police wasted hours before calling for federal backup — apparently they didn’t think yesterday’s crowd was menacing but did think BLM protestors were. This is consistent with research showing white people perceive black people as greater threats.
According to CNN’s hasty analysis of the chaotic police response, it wasn’t until after the building had been overrun that Capitol Police called for backup.
We do understand that the DC Mayor had invited federal law enforcement, but then discouraged federal law enforcement from deploying — apparently trying to avoid a replay of the unchained behavior of the national guard against BLM protestors. That may have played a role. But that still doesn’t explain how people could walk out of the Capitol Building waving items stolen from representatives’ offices.
In a situation so fast-moving, we want police to use minimal force and, with at least one protestor killed by police, it’s hard to know exactly how to characterize what happened. But we saw lots of behavior by Capitol Police that raises severe questions. A full accounting needs to happen.
THE NEED TO IMPEACH
There have been initially uncoordinated calls for the 25th Amendment to remove Trump or calls for impeachment. We didn’t see a mechanism to join last night.
Strategically, we think both are appropriate responses. Ending Trump’s reign with either of these actions discourages future coup attempts.
We are skeptical that the 25th Amendment is a viable route — because it includes Trump loyalists like Mike Pence, a man who has been unswervingly loyal to Trump. But the political calculations have changed. Right-wing news is reporting Trump split heavily from Pence (for example, Pence’s Chief of Staff says he was locked out of the White House). And Trump’s own staffers inside Trump’s offices are allegedly talking about the 25th.
We’re encouraging people to get behind the NAACP’s call for impeachment. Impeachment has two advantages: it forces Congress to be on the record and it can bar Trump from holding federal office again. Further, it creates a public platform to further decry this behavior.
THE PSYCHOLOGY OF THE MOMENT
Of course you’re feeling some way about all of this. One of the aspects of violence is it elicits psychological responses: fear, heightened sense of anxiety, revenge, desire to hide under covers or strike out…
A movement that doesn’t pay attention to its own emotional state will stay reactionary. We’ve tried to chart a path dictated by what will be strategically useful. Today, that’s spending energy to correctly frame this as Trump’s coup attempt, to identify its co-conspirators, and to impeach the leading coup plotter.
We also encourage you to tend to your own emotions. Note the parts of yourself that are feeling reactive, even seeking more awful news to remain in a pattern of reactivity. Anger and outrage are natural responses and we encourage you to give space for them.
Many of us in the Choose Democracy team have turned to Finding Steady Ground as a resource. They have a practical 7 behaviors for people in tumultuous times.
Our analysis remains this: the coup attempt was not successful and remains extremely unlikely to succeed. The pillars of democracy are holding against an attempted coup and there’s no legitimacy for a full seizure of our duly elected government. As people return home on their buses from DC, we may see more local actions at state capitols. But the center is strongly rejecting these efforts. Let’s remember that millions of poll workers, election officials, and citizens did their jobs to allow 160 million US Americans to have their votes fairly counted.
Choose Democracy came together to prepare a strategy and tactics to stop a full-blown active coup. Now we need a different set of tactics: rebuilding Democracy, punishing coup plotters and those who assisted them, and using levers of grassroots and political power to enshrine voter access and build accountable institutions of government.
We’re glad to hear some of the networks built around Choose Democracy are turning into those efforts (and many others have been doing this work for a long time). We’d love to hear what you plan to do afterwards — and would love to echo efforts that you think are worthy to continue when Choose Democracy folds after January 20.
The days up until Inauguration Day will likely be very rocky, so naturally we’ll keep monitoring this.
The Choose Democracy Team
To learn more about potential for a coup, and how to prepare and respond to an attempted coup, see ChooseDemocracyBenicia.org.