A little after 2 p.m. Eastern time on Wednesday, protesters crashed into the U.S. Capitol and forced a halt in the certification of the electoral vote. As the Senate reconvened that night, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), speaking as though he had just survived 9/11, condemned the “thugs” waving flags who had forced them to run away for a few hours. Man of the People Mitt Romney, who probably will not repeat his mistake of flying commercial, called the Capitol storm “an insurrection, incited by the president of the United States.”
If you wonder where these big politicians were last year when people were having their businesses closed down by government mandates or watching their cars torched by Antifa with Molotov cocktails, the answer is they were most likely in incredibly comfortable homes, enjoying taxpayer-guaranteed salaries and genuinely insane expense accounts, secure in the knowledge that, whatever happens—whether they return to Capitol Hill for the rest of their lives or are forced one day into semi-retirement on K Street—they will never again have to live like “normal people.”
And when they blame President Trump for the Capitol protest, they are doubly foolish and doubly deceived. First, they implicitly deny that these protestors had any reason to be upset. Even the CHAZ protestors who demolished central Seattle were granted the presumption that they might have had reasons, however misguided.
But the Capitol Hill protestors had already been told, repeatedly, by the news media, social media, and their political leaders, to shut up and go home. And yet they didn’t—so it must be Trump’s fault.
The idea that a large part of America genuinely could be infuriated by the behavior of our elected officials has not dawned on them. When they get yelled at on planes, they think, “Why don’t my constituents believe me? Why don’t they trust me? It’s Trump’s fault!”
But they never ask themselves if they might have given their constituents legitimate reasons not to trust them. Did they ever, for example, vote to send a $10 million check to Pakistan and a $600 check to some Americans? Would that upset anyone?
Today, these politicians are breathing a sigh of relief—their second mistake: “My constituents trusted me before Trump came,” they think. “Now that he’s on the way out the door, they will trust me again!” They believe that Trump not being president means that they can go back to vacuuming up money and power just as before. They think Trump is finished.
In reality, they are finished.
Trump could have announced the formation of a new political party. A majority of Republican voters probably would have followed him. Eventually, after a few election cycles of mutual destruction, the rest of the GOP reluctantly would acquiesce in a new party which would likely have many of the same ills as the old. Instead, Trump has made clear his intention of primarying every Republican who opposed airing election fraud claims in court.
Career GOP politicians will spend the next several years watching “their” party rapidly remade in what they mistakenly believe to be Trump’s image. But it is actually the image of a large part of America that feels totally ignored.
The principals that Trump represents do not start and end with Trump. Limited regulation, limited government, low taxes, fair trade, stricter immigration laws, belief in God and in the earnest goodness of the average American, a weariness of foreign wars and entanglements: You might call it George Washington conservatism. These ideas have been absent from politics for at least 30 years, as voters had a choice between the party of big government and the party that claims to prefer limited government but also embraces big government. These are the ideas Trump has expressed and on which he governed.. America First: You mind your business and we’ll mind ours.
If a politician rolls his eyes at that suggestion, he’ll never understand why the people don’t want him. He’ll never understand why those angry Americans were at the Capitol the other day. He’ll never understand why he lost his seat and had to become a highly paid consultant instead of a highly paid public servant.
When Trump tells his supporters that the journey is only beginning, the leftist media and conservative elite bite their collective nails—Does this mean Trump will come back? Not necessarily. It means that the movement Trump has started will go on no matter what—it means that America will come back.
We’ve been terribly governed for large parts of the last century, and before. How would you feel if one day the government told you you weren’t allowed to buy or drink alcohol, and that if you owned a distillery you’d just lost your livelihood? Of course that happened in 1920, and most Americans responded by quietly disobeying the law. Most politicians also disobeyed the law, but in much greater comfort and with the tacit approval of their friends in law enforcement. The arrival of organized crime in America was an unintended consequence.
How would you feel if the government declared that employers couldn’t raise wages? That happened in 1942. Employers skirted the law by creating the concept of “health benefits,” which did not count as wages. That had the unintended consequence of spawning a monster health insurance industry that destroyed private medical care in America.
One day in the future Americans might be told that their guns are illegal and must be turned in—and the government would probably discover that Americans somehow own vastly fewer guns than was thought. And that might have the unintended consequence of all those missing guns showing up one day in the hands of a well-regulated and very displeased militia.
Americans will not submit themselves to laws that they, on a large scale, think unjust. Nor will they submit themselves to be governed by leaders whom they, on a large scale, do not believe are elected. In 1960, Nixon decided it would be best to hush up his having been cheated out of the presidency. He was well-intentioned, but he was wrong. Trump knows that stealing an election isn’t a personal affront—it’s an attack on every American who casts a ballot. Precisely the opposite of the media’s demented obsession, Trump is one of the very few people in politics who understand that it isn’t just about him.
By pretending that it is all about him, our big-shot politicians have an excuse to ignore the Americans whom Trump has represented. But the George Washington conservatives are awake now, and they will find other voices, and more voices. Trump will be with them, but they will find new leaders as well. They don’t want much—put in a single phrase their demands boil down to “Leave us alone!” A Biden Administration, unelected though it may be, can survive if it listens to that very basic demand. But the GOP will learn the hard way how very much they have lost in helping Biden win the way he did.