How to start a civil war
WASHINGTON -- One thing the right always had claim to was the belief that -- unlike Black Lives Matter and social justice protests -- tea party and later MAGA rallies were peaceful, if at times profane, political speech.
There have been instances of violence from partisans on both sides, but it was left-wing protests that left cities torched, small businesses in ashes, police forces terrorized and once-vibrant city centers a dystopian mess.
That's gone now.
When Trump supporters marched from The Ellipse in front of the White House to storm the U.S. Capitol, they went beyond where the black-mask anarchists have gone. President Donald Trump's front-line troops assaulted Capitol Police.
The terrible goal was for a mob to swarm the seat of U.S. democracy and intimidate lawmakers to overturn the hallowed vote of the American people.
It was a journey that began with Trump's refusal to recognize that former Vice President Joe Biden won the Electoral College. I've talked to multiple Trump supporters who told me that the election was stolen, and that fraud skewed the vote in the Democrats' favor.
They stuck to their guns, so to speak, as recounts failed to change a single state's outcome. They stuck to their guns as judges and courts found the Trump campaign claims to be flimsy and unconvincing -- way below the bar necessary to disenfranchise legally cast American votes.
I understand that Trump voters take pride in their refusal to be swayed by experts and pundits who, like me, thought Trump could not win the Republican primary in 2016 -- and then, when he did, that he could never win the general election. Their unshakable faith in Trump is the very thing that brought him victory four years ago.
So, they turned that faith into a club that they brandished whenever any Republican disagreed with Trump for any reason. To doubt Trump in any way -- on federal spending, his habit of demeaning his own staff, his casual lies -- was interpreted as an act of heresy.
When it became clear Trump lost on Nov. 3, GOP lawmakers who saw the writing on the wall had to walk on eggshells just to state the obvious.