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Jim Mitchell of Old Town is a retired teacher.
That was not an attempted coup that played out in Washington on Wednesday. I have seen the aftermath of a coup in Santiago, Chile as I stood outside La Moneda, a few months after aircraft bombed the home of the president and his ministers. The granite facade of surrounding buildings bore thousands of bullet pockmarks. Heavily armed soldiers were on every street corner. That was a coup.
What I saw this past Wednesday was a group of people who were engaged in trying to create their five minutes of history so they could return home with cell phone evidence that they had been very important. Some minor damage to offices and essentially a “Thank you, you can go home now” from the president was what their mob action produced. That, and sadly, the death of five people.
This action was a cheap imitation of a coup brought from the magical thinking of the man who devised a plan to create a university out of paper cutouts of himself.
It also produced a bitter feeling from those who considered the Capitol their home. This violation of their space had never been experienced by them before. Their righteous anger has moved Lindsey Graham to say “Enough’s enough.” These are parental words of warning, which seem fitting, since the instigator of the rampage needs to be spoken to at that level.
This feeling of violation is not unknown to women, minorities and poor people whose cries of anguish have mostly been ignored. Until Wednesday, congresspeople had felt secure in their centers of power. Now that these privileged few have seen firsthand how tenuous their world is, they are starting to stand up and speak out. What we need now are more people to have the backbone to speak the truth to this bully.
What we have seen is not that our democratic institutions are strong and have resisted this challenge but that some individuals have finally risen to the occasion and spoken out against this travesty of a government. The only institution that is still strong in this country is the stock market, which barely recognized Wednesday’s turmoil. It is the most visible representation of this country right now, and business is just fine thank you.
Having lived through four years of the charade of a reality show president, we know that our democracy is tenuous and needs assistance. It does not need higher and stronger barriers put in place outside the building but rather it needs more people to clearly say that the Donald Trump charade is over.
Hopefully, the anger produced in our Congress can be constructively harnessed in the next four years.
There is no need to waste time on Trump right now. He is a dangerous wounded beast and needs to be contained for another few days. He is suffering his worst fear, that of the world knowing that he is a paper tiger. There are plenty of lawyers ready to file serious charges against him after Jan. 20. Let him cower and stew, but keep him isolated and alone. Then we can move on from this nightmare and get down to do the work of correcting the havoc that is Trump’s legacy. We all need to clearly say: You lost, so quit meddling with our democracy.