What Comes Next?

Reflecting on the MAGA Insurrection

%22The+terrorists+may+think%0Athey%E2%80%99ve+taken+the+Bastille%0ASaint-Antoine%2C+but+maybe+all%0Athey%E2%80%99ve+done+is+Naruto-run%0Athrough+Area+51.%22

Yang Yu

“The terrorists may think they’ve taken the Bastille Saint-Antoine, but maybe all they’ve done is Naruto-run through Area 51.”

The Coup of 18 Frimaire

On Jan. 6, Congress confirmed the results of the 2020 election — after months of flagrant disinformation disseminated both by President Donald J. Trump and various high-ranking members of his Republican Party attesting that the election had been subverted, and that the succession of president-elect Joseph Biden was fraudulent and/or illegitimate. 

At the same time, a group of rioters gathered outside of the Capitol building ready to challenge the notion that the rule of their leader could be ended via something so frivolous as an election. White supremacists and Neo-Nazis armed with confederate flags, paraphrenelia of the QAnon conspiracy theory, garb that classified them as “Staff” at “Camp Auschwitz,” and shirts boldly proclaiming that “Six Million [Jews murdered in the Holocaust] Wasn’t Enough,” broke through the meager group of officers defending the Capitol and stormed the building. A noose was menacingly hung from a gallows erected outside the Capitol.

Inside, they looted and desecrated the Capitol building. In an act of bitter irony, a “Make America Great Again” hat was placed on a statue of President Gerald Ford, the forgotten one-term President borne of scandal equated to the soon-to-be-former President Trump. A Confederate flag was paraded through the halls of Congress — an act that the fascist rioters may have seen as their moment of “Hanging the Hammer and Sickle over the Reichstag”, when, in fact, it had all the political sophistication of Calvin and Hobbes’ hanging a “No girls allowed” sign on the side of their treehouse. “Murder the Media” was scrawled on a door within the building.

The same people who meet black protestors with tear gas and rubber bullets pretend that their hands are tied when dealing with white terrorists.”

“All Terrorists Matter”

The immediate, and very rational reaction to this development is outrage at the shocking difference between how law-enforcement handled the 2020 Rally for Racial Justice (and the overall reaction to the Black Lives Matter protests) and this recent development. As we now see, the same people who meet black protestors with tear gas and rubber bullets pretend that their hands are tied when dealing with white terrorists.

In the following week, more information has come out — the FBI had been made aware of the looming attack on the Capitol, but had either failed to accurately assess the threat posed, or had simply refused to take the necessary precautions. 

As transgender Jewish-Russian journalist Masha Gessen put it, The Capitol Invaders Enjoyed the Privilege of Not Being Taken Seriously. People who note this discrepancy are not demanding that law-enforcement meet white supremacists with the same brutality as they meet peaceful leftists with, but rather wish to draw attention to the explicit racial biases at work. 

The fact that black protesters are, in the eyes of many, terrorists no matter what they do, while white supremacists are, in those same eyes, validated in their actions no matter what is honestly not too surprising at this point. And yet, never before has that double standard been clearer from the outside looking in.

Money-Changers in the Reichstag

Another less articulate and less politically correct reaction to this development has been the disgust many have seen of seeing “the rabble” invade “hallowed halls of democracy”. People who take that reading to this event need to consider that democracy cannot be smothered through terrorism and does not owe its success to the grandiose nature of its architecture. Unlike, say, the Catholic Church, democracy doesn’t live or die by the consistency of its rites, the pronounced sanctity of its rituals or the size of its cathedrals.

If you are shocked that white supremacists have stepped foot in the Capitol, I have news for you: they’ve been there since day one.

If you are disgusted that people in baseball hats and jeans stepped foot in a place reserved for Harvard-educated men in suits… maybe you have more in common with the Republican Party than you care to admit.

Will conservative Americans rally against the Trump-camp that seeks to destroy American democracy, or will they, convinced of democracy’s vulnerability, join the insurrection?”

What Comes Next?

Having outlined both the events of Jan. 6 and contextualized their more-superficial political consequences, it falls upon the American people to consider that titular question — what comes next? 

Option 1: The Women’s March to Area 51

The terrorists may think they’ve taken the Bastille Saint-Antoine, but maybe all they’ve done is Naruto-run through Area 51.

Well no, while the terrorists may not have pulled off a bona-fide revolution, it is not as if American politics will continue on as if nothing has happened. As critical as I am of the “democracy has been permanently sullied” mentality, it is undeniable that many politicians and voters will be victim to this sort of mentality. People’s sense of security in their political institutions is crumbling, and when that occurs, people’s political loyalties shift. 

The real question is what direction will they shift — will conservative Americans rally against the Trump-camp that seeks to destroy American democracy, or will they, convinced of democracy’s vulnerability, join the insurrection?

Option 2: The Beer Bro Putsch

In 1923, a crowd of fascist protestors gathered in the Odeonsplatz, a large city square in Munich, with the expressed goal of executing a coup d’état and yielding control of Bavaria, then a part of the Weimar Republic, to one Adolf Hitler. After an embarrassing failure, Hitler was arrested, tried, and imprisoned — the Beer Hall Putsch was a humiliating, farcical failure, and that’s why no one ever talks about some failed German wannabe-insurrectionist named Hitler… 

Caustic irony aside, we must understand that fascists don’t give up after one humiliating failure — this isn’t even the first violent show of force they’ve had during the Trump administration. In the coming years, we need to take the threat posed by these sorts of terrorists seriously. This means everything from going out to protest when we need to, to putting pressure on politicians, to simply keeping this event in the public consciousness.

The only way for the party to continue to operate is if they distance themselves from Trump and his white-supremacist supporters — sacrificing the very support base that has kept them relevant in the 21st century.”

Option 3: “Straight Pride”’s Purge

The Democratic Party has now impeached Donald Trump (for a second time in his term), on the grounds that he incited the violence on Capitol Hill. Similarly, demands have appeared for Vice President Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment to the Constitution, ousting Trump and taking on the mantle of Acting President after declaring him “unfit”. He has declined the opportunity.  Perhaps an even more interesting development has been the demands that various Republican congressmen resign due to their complacency in Trump’s totalitarian rhetoric, and/or that Congress itself should be removing complicit agents from its ranks. Large corporations, such as the greeting card company Hallmark, now demand that Republican politicians refund their recent campaign contributions.

Is a soft purge of Republican lawmakers coming? And even if members of the guilty party are allowed to serve out the remainder of their terms, will they ever be elected again? Is this the beginning of a new political mindset, one in which our legislature views conservative lawmakers as self-evidently anti-democratic, or in which a “Republican” candidate is simply unelectable?

Despite our sincerest hopes of a rapid and positive transformation of American politics — the permanent extinction of the GOP and a taboo on so much as identifying as “conservative” — I doubt the practicality of such rapid change. 

Worry not, the death knell for the GOP has rung, but it will not vanish overnight. The only way for the party to continue to operate is if they distance themselves from Trump and his white-supremacist supporters — sacrificing the very support base that has kept them relevant in the 21st century. The Republican Party is now in shambles, but it isn’t gone from this earth quite yet.

Option 4: Fire-gate

Finally, we come to the most likely and least satisfying result of this piece of historical drama.

Rather than pushing the entire electorate further right or further left, this, like Watergate, will have the immediate consequence of subverting the role of president, creating a political atmosphere where, for the better or not, heads of state are more open to critique from both the public and the legislatures. In the long term, it will simply be another variable in the holistic political calculus. Insurrectionism will be another buzzword thrown around by both parties, as every politician uses this newfound fear to their advantage. And, more likely than not, the attempted coup will be used as another excuse to crack down on all public demonstrations— giving complacent actors another excuse to suppress peaceful, progressive protests — most critically, ongoing Black Lives Matter protests.

Perhaps this event will have its greatest effect serving simply as a reminder of the fact that, just because Joe Biden has been elected President, doesn’t mean any of us can or should slink back into complacency. Fascism is a threat, and will always be a threat. And this latest fascist power-grab cannot and will not be forgotten.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email