A Trump aide testified that the president tried to grab the steering wheel of the presidential limo so he could go to the Capitol on January 6, 2021. After the aide’s testimony, Representative Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) embraced her, as though expressing solidarity with someone who has just been through a tremendous ordeal. You could say that Washington and Hollywood have finally converged, turning into a single giant Oscars ceremony that no one is watching.
Trump supporters (myself included) are not in a particularly receptive mood for further intimidation, so what is the establishment trying to achieve with their January 6 circus? The mystery was solved for me the other day when I was having dinner with a close friend of mine, a middle-left sort of guy: He is what the media generally likes to call an “independent voter,” part of the segment that theoretically can go either way in an election. In reality, my friend had never voted for a Republican in his life—until Trump.
For all the hysteria over Trump’s divisive tweets, the truth is that Trump is the only unifying figure in modern political history: He persuaded millions of people who had never voted for any Republican, indeed for any president, to vote for him. During his first term, he increased his share of the vote with every segment of the population, except college-educated whites. No Republican since Reagan received such broad support from so many groups. And he won their support not by pandering to their sub-category interests or to the things that set them apart, but by appealing to them as Americans.
My middle-left friend, in admitting to me that he had supported Trump in the last election, quickly added that he was now embarrassed by his support because of January 6: Because it has apparently been established, by the establishment, that Trump “incited” the “riot” on Capitol Hill. So, of course, my friend couldn’t consider supporting Trump again (or at any rate, would never be able to admit to it in polite society).
Here’s my question to the January 6 committee: If Trump made a call for violence on January 6, how could I possibly have missed it? I was glued to the TV all day. I watched Trump’s speech; I hung on every word. I recognized it as a pivotal moment in American history: We were about to certify an unelected, illegitimate president. It was an impending catastrophe that only the boldest possible action could have prevented.
If Trump had called out to the nation in his January 6 speech—if he had said, “We must stop this, come to Washington with your guns!”—millions of Americans would have come. The response would have been massive and overwhelming. You can bet your boots that Ashli Babbitt would not have been the only person shot and killed that day.
Trump easily—easily—could have started a civil war. He had only to make the call. Millions would have answered it. America was watching and waiting. But Trump never made that call, and Washington knows damn well he didn’t.
If you ask me, Trump has shown greater restraint than any man alive in the world today. Greater restraint perhaps than almost any man in history: For there are very few men, even in small and trivial nations, who could launch a civil war if they chose to do it. That sort of following—so wide, so deeply committed, and so much on the precipice of fury unleashed—is truly rare. The fact that Trump did not call upon his supporters to do violence on January 6 is singular, incredible: What leftist, on the verge of losing his power in Washington, and yet possessed of the means of retaining it through coercive force, would have walked away as Trump did?
Now the establishment—the Liz Cheneys, the Nancy Pelosis, the Mitch McConnells and Mitt Romneys—are terrified because they know Trump still has that following. They know the nation, left to choose its own president, would choose Trump again. And they can’t possibly let that happen.
Trump is the only real threat—not to world peace and stability, not to economic security or energy independence, but to the power of the elites. The elites want that power more than anything—they cannot walk away—and they are willing to do anything, even destroy the entire planet with war or disease, sooner than they would see Trump become president again.
But they ought to be careful. The next time they steal an election, it may not take a speech to start a civil war.