In this installment of Weekend Conversation, PF Whalen and Parker Beauregard of The Blue State Conservative react to the storming of the U.S. Capitol building on Wednesday.
Parker: The longer we distance ourselves from the fiasco that was the protesting, rioting, and tragic deaths of at least five individuals, the more it just seems like par for the course. Why wouldn’t something like this happen given the volatile relationship between President Trump and the media? President Trump and his supporters – whether they were present or not this week – are getting wrongly blamed. The media wants to use it as an excuse to pinpoint exactly why Trump is evil and needs to go, and social media finally got a pretense to kick him off their platforms. Never mind that Saturday saw the trending hashtag of “Hang Mike Pence” remain up. Remember, when it’s directed at, rather than directed from, conservatives, hate speech and inciteful language is tolerable.
Let’s start with the obvious about why the entire ordeal was awful. First off, good people lost their lives. My immediate thoughts go to the family of the fallen police officer, and then to the dozens of other officers who were injured to various extents. Many will likely endure altered lives due to injury or incapacitation after their heroism of standing up to the crowds. It is just the latest of an unending string of examples that our brave men and women in uniform are a special breed. There were also deaths on the protest sides. I will return to this in the third segment.
Second, and this sounds callous compared to the real damage to human life, is that this undoubtedly sets back the conservative movement. In the past four years, Trump endured endless abuse from every institution and corner of America. It was mostly fabricated. This is different, because there are sound bites from his speech, which was all over the place and entirely unnecessary, that can be connected to the later chaos. I don’t think he is directly responsible for what happened (free will is a thing, and those rioters have it), but it’s not hard to imagine how a totalitarian press and Democrat party will let this one get away. I hope people see through this, but I also hoped Georgia would vote in two Republican senators.
PF: I’ve got a real problem with what happened on Wednesday at the Capitol. I’ve heard some speculation that the rioters may have actually been Antifa instead of Trump supporters, and if that’s the case, it should be easy enough to determine. There were some individuals who wore face coverings, but many of them had their faces visible; and there’s an abundance of footage available. Law enforcement will be able to identify those folks and we’ll know if that theory is true. In the meantime, I’m going to assume they were Trump supporters, because I’ve seen zero evidence showing otherwise.
I think the original idea of the rally on Wednesday was a good one. There were clearly significant voting irregularities in multiple states in November. Officials in Pennsylvania ignored their own constitution and amended their policy on mail-in balloting. There were clearly shenanigans that happened in Georgia, but they apparently weren’t to the level initially suggested, such as with the Dominion voting machines. There were other problems in Michigan, Arizona and elsewhere. Whatever voter fraud took place needs to be investigated, and anyone found guilty should be thrown in prison. But what happened at the Capitol building is totally unacceptable.
Five people died as a result of the violence, including the police officer as you mentioned, and that’s not a solution. It’s tragic and it’s outrageous. President Trump tweeted out during the mayhem, “WE are the Party of Law & Order,” and he’s right. But actions speak louder than words, and the actions of those folks in the Capitol were anything but compliant with law and order. I’ve suggested for over a month that there should be a commission assembled to examine what happened during the election, similar to the 9/11 Commission; that’s law and order. The Trump Campaign submitted multiple court filings in various states providing their evidence of wrongdoings; that’s law and order. The initial actions taken by Republican Senators and Representatives on Wednesday contesting the electors from certain states were within bounds of the constitution; that’s law and order. But breaking into the capitol building, sitting and sitting in the Senate President’s chair in the chamber, and assaulting police officers is not law and order, it’s a disgrace.
Parker: As the week unfolded, you and I developed new ideas based on the facts on the ground. Was it Trump supporters? Was it Antifa? Was it neo-Nazis? To what extent did the formers influence the latter? Could we trust reports coming out?
By now, it seems fairly decided that the majority of rioters were supporters of the president, but it’s important to note that this plays into some of the frustration held by conservatives across the nation. In the reverse, this distinction of support or connection to a candidate is never made. Why is it that the U.S. Capitol was sieged by Trump supporters but cities like Minneapolis, Kenosha, or Louisville weren’t burned and looted by Biden supporters? I think we know the answer to that.
The coverage has been disgusting this week from the press. It’s entirely predictable, though that realization doesn’t make it any more palatable. Look, I started off by saying what was terrible about the entire night’s events, and you followed up with even stronger condemnation. We both hate what happened. However, when I also began this piece by saying I understand, this is partly where I was coming from. Media coverage and reportage about the White House for the last four/five years has been relentlessly one-sided, and at times even downright false. The press will lie, distort, or simply not cover a news cycle depending how it reflects on the president. If they need to up their reporting to focus on something negative – such as his speech from Wednesday afternoon, that’s all we hear about. If they need to lie – such as his handling of Charlottesville, that’s the only angle we know about. If they need to bury a story – such as his success in the Middle East or record economic performance, then so be it.
PF: I’m not buying the idea that President Trump is responsible for “incitement,” or is in any other way accountable for Wednesday’s riots. The most fundamental aspect of conservatism is personal responsibility, and for those who engaged in Wednesday’s nonsense, they are individually responsible; all of them.
Nonetheless, the incident is indeed a black eye for President Trump. Perceptions of Trump have been described as follows: the left takes him literally but not seriously, whereas the right takes him seriously but not literally. Based on these events, however, it appears that assessment may have shifted somewhat. Trump has said repeatedly that the election was “stolen” from him, but his legal team filed scores of legal challenges and they failed. Our legal system may not be perfect, but the rule of law is paramount, and the law has spoken. He also has claimed that not only was he the rightful winner in the election, he in fact won it in a “landslide.” There is absolutely no evidence that is the case. Zero. He was right to legally challenge the irregularities, he was right not to concede immediately, and there was nothing wrong with Congress’ actions on Wednesday in considering irregularities before certifying the electoral votes. But for the president to make such claims, including Wednesday during the rally, it damages his credibility and hurts the conservative movement.
You mentioned the political impact of what happened, and I fear we’ll be hearing about this incident being indicative of all conservatives for years. I voted for President Trump twice, and I would do so again without hesitation. I think his presidency overall has been remarkably successful. But what happened on Wednesday was a gift to the left and their media. On Wednesday afternoon Joe Biden was hiding in his basement, listening to his record player and wondering how on earth he could be so lucky.
Parker: We are starting to get a peek at the political fallout. Several people within Trump’s cabinet have resigned, and many Representatives and Senators have distanced themselves from the President. Then, in a purely political ploy, Nancy Pelosi has asked Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment and remove Trump from office. Pence won’t, of course, but if Pelosi really wanted to play hardball she could move forward with impeachment and make Republican Congressmen/women take a public stance on his fitness for office. I don’t think that would happen, but the Democrats have a huge opportunity to capitalize on this. If nothing else, calls for identifying, outing, and canceling Trump voters are becoming more commonplace. It’s all getting real and scary.
I have a rhetorical question for everyone: How many people died, what were their names, and under what circumstances did they perish? I would guess everyone knows of the fallen police officer; after all, even Democrats want him to lie in honor at the Rotunda. That’s the right call, but it calls into focus the obvious doublespeak. Where was Democrats’ compassion for police last summer?
There is also the specific death of Ashli Babbit, who appears to be the only death as a result of the riot itself (three others died apparently of unrelated injuries). Nonetheless, do you think that any death that took place during BLM riots wouldn’t be attributed to the police? Here we are again. It’s one double standard after another. Babbit was captured on video as being shot to death by police as she attempted to enter through a broken window. This isn’t the place to try the police in public court, and I stand by police until all facts are out. Still, she was unarmed and not immediately posing a lethal threat. We know how this would be reported if she were black and with Black Lives Matter. That’s all I am saying right now.
PF: Democrats and their media will try to keep Wednesday’s events at the forefront for as long as possible, and they will continue to try and paint all 75 million Trump voters with one, broad brush. So be it; that’s been their strategy for years. It will be important for Republicans to turn the page and move forward as soon as possible. Thus far, there have been some Republican leaders who have stood by the president and supported him, and as you mentioned, many have condemned his rhetoric and assigned some level of culpability to him. But none of them, or at least none of whom I am aware, have supported the violence or otherwise justified it. I think that’s the right approach: denounce it unambiguously, consider and discuss potential corrective actions, and move forward.
It’s amazing to me that there is still is a large percentage of voters whose opinions are largely malleable, as the polls prior to November’s election showed. Almost 160 million people voted, and millions of them were still undecided only days before the election. Probably 85% of Americans are essentially locked into which party and candidates they support, but it’s that other 15% that are so critical. And it is the damage done to the perception of that 15% on Wednesday that should gravely concern conservatives.
For those scorning us for discussing the political aspects of the riots, stop. Everything is political nowadays. The COVID pandemic was politicized by the left from the very beginning, and Wednesday’s riots were being politicized by Democrats as they happened; in real time. Reality is: virtually anything government-related that happens today is viewed through a political prism within seconds, and ignoring that reality is perilous. Conservatives want to preserve American exceptionalism and our way of life, and leftists want to fundamentally change virtually every aspect of our society; it’s that simple. If Republicans and conservatives don’t properly manage the impact of Wednesday’s riots, and if they allow the events to affect Democrats’ ability to implement their radical agenda, it will be political malpractice. Our country’s future depends on it.