The Runback: It Almost Happened Here

We still don't know the magnitude of Wednesday's attempted coup

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Podcast Episode #16

This week we break down the talk with Maryland House Minority Leader Nic Kipke about the upcoming General Assembly session.

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The Monday Thought

I’m still outrageously mad about the attempted coup d’etat in the Nation’s Capital on Wednesday. You should still be as well.

But what I want to talk about now is a novel from the 1930’s.

The Sinclair Lewis novel “It Can’t Happen Here” came out in 1935. The Wikipedia entry says:

The novel describes the rise of Berzelius "Buzz" Windrip, a demagogue who is elected President of the United States, after fomenting fear and promising drastic economic and social reforms while promoting a return to patriotism and "traditional" values. After his election, Windrip takes complete control of the government and imposes totalitarian rule with the help of a ruthless paramilitary force…

One of the actions that Windrip, the antagonist, takes in the novel is to outlaw the influence of the U.S. Congress.

Wednesday’s invasion of the Capitol by Trump supporters almost fulfilled the version of the Lewis novel. By attempting to intimidate members of Congress into throwing out the Presidential election results for no good reason and without constitutional justification, a violent mob came closer than anybody ever has to eliminating the power of the legislative branch forever.

And that says nothing about this little nugget.

The damndest thing about all of this? I predicted something like this would happen.

Five years ago, on an episode of The Red Maryland Wake-Up Call (remember that?) I noted that Donald Trump’s politics were dangerous, and I questioned the ability of Americans to keep a republic in the face of a leader who is antithetical to our American values. And I asked a question: You still think It Can’t Happen Here?

This was the third attempt at a coup in the 245-year history of our country. Neither the Newburgh Conspiracy nor The Business Plot came as close as Wednesday’s putsch did.

It’s actually worse than you think it is. Trump fans are threatening violence against the Shasta County Board of Supervisors in California. One of their leaders suggests:

“Without the threat of physical violence, our words are empty. We have no teeth to our message,” Zapata said. “By calling for violence, am I saying, ‘Hey, let’s go kill people?’ Absolutely not. And I never have. I’ve been misquoted there. But I am saying that we’re at the point now where we have to consider the threat of violence to protect ourselves.”

That says nothing of a pro-Trump Congresswoman who glowingly quoted Hitler during the peaceful portion of the rally.

This is the country that Donald Trump has created. One where violence is seen as a totally legitimate political option. That’s not a movie that is going to end well for anybody. And there are people across the country who are willing to justify it. I am uncomfortable with how many people I know in Republican political circles who were willing to justify or even cheer on what happened at the Capitol.

I have a lot of concerns right now. I’m very concerned that there will be more political violence between now and January 20th. I’m concerned that political violence won’t abate once Donald Trump is an ex-President.

I don’t know what the long-tail of Trump’s presidency or Wednesday’s failed coup will be. But what I do know is the fact that we have to acknowledge that, without a shadow of a doubt, It Almost Happened Here.