Boomer Voices: The insurgents aren’t going away

The push to expel Donald Trump from office, if not our future, is in full gear. Good thing or bad? There are wise and powerful arguments on both sides, but as a Boomer Voice, BoomerCafé’s co-founder and executive editor Greg Dobbs writes that to him, the movement is the lesser of two evils.

The traitors aren’t going away.

When you read what they’ve been saying, even after the Capitol was ransacked and five people died, even after federal agents routed some from their rat holes in different parts of the country and charged them with federal crimes, you have to realize, they’re not going away. The threat to our democracy isn’t over. Not by a long shot.

The mob on the steps of the Capitol, January 6, 2021… just before breaking in.

Because more are still out there. And even more unnerving, between the unpatriotic lowlifes who got away and the unpatriotic lowlifes who cheered them on and the unpatriotic lowlifes in Congress who still find common cause, they constitute no small chunk of American society. In the first surveys after the insurrection, roughly three-quarters of the American people condemned it. Leaving roughly a quarter, who didn’t.

As senior editor David Frum rhetorically asked in The Atlantic, “Who converted these once-ordinary Americans into enemies of democracy?”

We do have to recognize that for reasons the rest of us can’t fathom— and I, for one, have been trying— tens of millions of Americans still support Trump. In The Bulwark, Richard North Patterson framed the roots of their unrest this way: “The toxins of racial and cultural estrangement; the disintegration of communal bonds; the proliferation of mind-numbing misinformation; the accelerating gaps in wealth and opportunity; the increasingly ossified class system—which, in turn, erode faith in democracy as a means of resolving our problems.”

A reinforced seven foot high fence surrounds the Capitol today along with up to 15,000 National Guard troops nearby. (Photo thanks to Amitava Chatterjee, @Chatsphotog.)

I want to believe though, I have to believe, most of them are not willing to throw our democracy under the bus. Because that would put them on the side of people like the insurrectionist who shouted as he helped storm the Capitol, “It is time for war.” Or another who said, “We’re not backing down anymore, this is our country.” Or the one who promised, “Believe me, we are well armed if we need to be.” Or the county commissioner from New Mexico who was there and posted afterward on Facebook, “We took the building once, we can take it again.” He even wrote of another Capitol conclave soon, contemplating “blood running out of that building.”

Do those tens of millions know that on the same day as the attempted coup at the Capitol, armed men also threatened violence at Georgia’s and New Mexico’s state capitols, and at the governor’s mansion in the state of Washington? Do they know that what happened in Washington DC was not a peaceful march gone bad, it was a conspiracy? That the term “Storm the Capitol” showed up 100,000 times on social media in the month before the insurrection? That one message on social media recommended to anyone heading for Washington, “Pack a crowbar?”

They packed crowbars and more. Clubs, knives, pipe bombs, Molotov cocktails. They brought in sledge hammers, ladders, plastic wrist restraints.

And a noose. Maybe they missed the irony that treason used to be a hanging offense.

And are millions of Americans okay with the fact that according to Twitter, “Plans for future armed protests have already begun proliferating” online, including “a proposed secondary attack on the U.S. Capitol and state capitol buildings on January 17?”

If they are, heaven help us. Their complaint was articulated by a self-proclaimed evangelical Christian who was in the mob on the Capitol steps and told The New York Times, “We are representing the 74 million people who got disenfranchised.” Disenfranchised? Really? They were only disenfranchised by the 81 million Americans who voted the other way.

And where does Donald Trump fit into all this? Well first, you could simply say that you’re known by the company you keep. In this case, terrorists in the United States Capitol bearing the flag of the secessionist slave-owning Confederacy. Throngs flying the Trump flag above the American flag. A Capitol invader in a shirt stamped with the flesh-crawling words, “Camp Auschwitz.”

But maybe more to the point, you could go back to last September’s unpresidential debate when, given the chance to disavow the overtly combative Proud Boys by telling them to stand down, instead all this president could say was, “Stand back and stand by.” Or to his more recent assurance to all who would come to Washington for the rally on January 6th that things would be “wild.” Or on the heels of Rudy Giuliani’s call at the rally itself for “trial by combat,” and Michael Flynn’s appeal to “bleed” for freedom, and Don Jr.’s warning to fellow Republicans who’d finally shown an ounce of independence, “We’re coming for you,” you need only go back to the president’s own incendiary exhortation as the crowd made ready to capture the Capitol: “You’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength and you have to be strong.”

As journalist Mort Rosenblum put it in an essay entitled “Barbarians at the Gate,” Trump has been “so unmistakably clear, he might as well have bright red flash cards and an interpreter signing at his shoulder.”

What Trump was telling his overheated henchmen— the bald-faced lie he has been telling everyone since Election Day itself— was, “They stole my presidency, go get it back.” Trump is a party to the conspiracy. Or as legal scholar Clark D. Cunningham wrote with more exactitude, the “criminal conspiracy.”

In my career as a foreign correspondent, I’ve been in the middle of everything from attempted coups to government takeovers to full-scale revolutions. This looked no different. Except for one thing: in some I saw, nobody died. Five Americans died last week in Washington. More, by the way, than those who died in the 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, which arguably cost Hillary Clinton the presidency. And she’s not the one who egged on the terrorists.

Last week, Trump was. Remember when a lot of us described this man merely as an authoritarian? How quaint, because now he’s so much more. He’s an anarchist. He’s an arsonist. A president’s job— his very oath of office— is to preserve, protect, and defend our Constitution. It’s a sad time in the nation’s history when our job is to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution from the president.

But we must. Not just as a punishment for this president, but as an admonition for the pretenders who would follow him.

Donald Trump incited the mob. He inflamed the mob. He made a double-faced attempt afterward to throw water on a three-alarm fire but all it amounted to, from the man who lit the torch, was showing up with a garden hose. And then telling traitors who carried his flame, “We love you, you’re very special.” One White House aide described Trump as “borderline excited” as the insurrection unfolded. Another told Senator Ben Sasse that the president was “delighted” when the mob stormed the Capitol. This was unforgivable. It was the antithesis of patriotism. It was treason.

The ogre in the Oval Office is like a mafia capo giving a hit man the order— not a stretch after hearing how he talked to Georgia’s Secretary of State— to commit a murder. Even if the capo doesn’t pull the trigger, the blood’s on his hands. Donald Trump urged his people to take back his presidency. Even if he didn’t smash through the barriers himself, the looting, the vandalism, the deaths, are on his hands.

As John Cassidy wrote in The New Yorker, “In other democracies, a leader who tried to overthrow an election result and incited a violent insurrection might well be cooling his heels in prison by now.”

Are there risks in trying to thwart Donald Trump, to expel the president from office and forever disqualify him from ever holding it again? Absolutely. But just as he used the White House to foment sedition, then did nothing as thugs acted on his onslaughts, there are greater risks if we don’t.

This is about the rule of law. It is about whether we do something, or nothing, when it’s broken. That’s why, even with the short time left, it’s not just legitimate to go after Donald Trump. It’s necessary.


  1. This article provides a balanced summing up of the situation, well written, well done. But it adds to my anguish. Over here in Europe, we are deeply worried – and shocked of course.

    Anyone looking at the European press will see article after article expressing concern. And we are deeply concerned, all of us, and can’t quite get over it: America used to be the beacon of democracy. We used to look up to America as a model. And now it looks like America is headed for civil war. 74 million against 81 million.

    Stunning and tragic.

  2. Consider, Greg, that your writing is “inciting” your audience against conservatives. And speaking of Europe, Germany’s Chancellor, France’s politicians, Russian dissident Alexei Navalny, all are aghast at Twitter’s ban on the President’s account while, for instance, death threats to Navalny are ignored. “Angela Merkel calls Trump Twitter ban ‘problematic'”. “French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire, who said that the state and not “the digital oligarchy” is responsible for regulations, calling big tech “one of the threats” to democracy.” Navalny: “I get death threats here every day for many years, and Twitter doesn’t ban anyone”

  3. Accountability has become a word that many are afraid of, primarily because it requires them to take a position that they think others may not like. Unfortunately, many in this country have tried to escape any accountability because some one on Facebook might not like them anymore if they state their true thoughts and feelings. The time for sitting on the fence and avoiding personal responsibility is past, it is time to take a position. Unfortunately, it took an attempted overthrow of our government and the loss of five lives to wake up some of the fence sitters to come to their senses. So yes, there is no question in any reasonable person’s mind as to whether this president should be prosecuted for treason, he should. The facts, for anyone who doesn’t think that the videos of the past five days were photo shopped, are obvious and can not be ignored unless we aren’t concerned about doing everything we can to prevent this threat to our democracy. Hopefully, VP Pence will do even more soul searching and come to the realization that invoking the 25th amendment is the appropriate avenue to take and immediately remove this president. Thank you Greg for your insight and awareness of what is really going on and your willingness to be “Accountable” for it. Dave Dillingham

  4. Greg;
    As a Navy Vietnam combat veteran, I admit that what Trump has done is a personal affront to me. Your assessment of our dire situation today is beautifully written, comprehensive, and balanced.

    I have just now been assured by a close friend with a daughter working for the FBI in Washington that they are distancing themselves from the president, beginning the long process of arresting the perps, and are on top of the ongoing threats to our democracy and way of life.
    We can certainly argue about the merits of the war I was fighting in 1968, but when you are in it, there is no time to think about right or wrong, good or bad. In our hearts we knew that what we were fighting for was to protect and support our democracy and our freedoms. Yes… “accountability”.
    My next note to you, Greg, will be when Trump is in prison.
    Lt Philip Max Kay
    USS Preston (DD-795)
    Vietnam Combat tour
    June-Dec 1968

  5. Beautifully expressed Greg. Thank you.
    My concern too is that millions of people have been buying and stockpiling ammo and guns (the more deadly the better) for years. I have always asked WHY? These military-style guns and tons of ammo are not needed for hunting or target practice or even for self defense. I do fear that some of these people have thought they would need them to take on the wicked government. “To defend the constitution” These insurgents are heavily armed with lethal weapons and they are talking of attacking state capitols all over the country. If rushing the security forces to enter is thwarted, will they then use these guns. They absolutely believe they are defending the country and believe that they are the real patriots. Republicans must state clearly that the election was not a hoax. That they are fighting for a lie. It appears most Republicans are too self-absorbed to do the right thing. I fear terrible carnage if the truth is not told and if more Republicans do not stand up.

  6. While agreeing that the mob’s, and the President’s, actions are beyond reprehensible, I cannot help but have concern over the suspension of “Freedom of Speech”, for ANY citizen of our country. The radical Left is already doing their best to control what and how we think and act. No need to help with that. Keep in mind that ‘Political Correctness’ is often a refuge for those who cannot or will not think for themselves. Our Constitution is still our bulwark against anarchy and we are bound to support it even when some of us choose to deviate from it’s principles. Let’s not throw out the baby with the bathwater!

  7. I’ve not heard or read of anyone suggesting this, but I refer you to the Felony Murder Rule. The FMR states that whenever there is a homicide, intentional or not, that occurs during the course of a felony, all participants in the commission of the underlying felony are guilty of murder. This, of course, would mean that ALL the rioters who raided the Congress should be charged with murder under the Felony Murder Rule.

    1. I see your point, but note that: one, does it matter that the police pulled the trigger?(maybe not), and two, at this point, no one has been charged with a felony. The Intercept reported on 14 Jan that “DOJ IS CONSIDERING CHARGING CAPITOL RIOTERS WITH SEDITIOUS CONSPIRACY, FELONY MURDER” but apparently hasn’t happened yet. Constitutional law scholars argue that sedition charges are a mistake and a slippery slope, used by weak politicians when nothing else fits.

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