Earl Ofari Hutchinson
Three things happened within a day of each other that tell much about why the Capitol riots won’t change a darn thing. A judge in Iowa City, Iowa brazenly announced that a Trump white terrorist who plowed into a group of police abuse protesters would not serve a days’ time in jail for his deadly act. Instead, he got probation and his record can be expunged. Rightwing talk show gabber Rush Limbaugh bragged that he deactivated his Twitter account in protest of Twitter’s banning Trump. Despite running for their safety from Capitol when the rioters attacked, a core of GOP senators still continued their challenge of the Electoral College tally.
The mountain of handwringing about the lawlessness, the volumes of angry editorial about the riots, and the drumbeat calls for impeachment and invoking the 25th Amendment to dump Trump from office, mask another brutal reality. Trump will finish his term, other than a handful of arrests of the terrorists, and more anguished editorials, there’s little evidence the GOP and the millions that back Trump have had a Saul like on the road to Damascus epiphany. The reasons for that remain the same.
Despite all the saber-rattling by some GOP senators against Trump, and angry finger points at some GOP senators, such as Missouri Senator Josh Hawley, for inciting the mob, GOP senators were blunt. Impeachment has zero chance of getting any traction among GOP senators. They can count votes. Trump’s 74 million plus votes is the greatest number of votes a losing presidential candidate has gotten in a free election anywhere, ever. In fact, it’s a greater number than any American presidential winner has ever gotten. But it’s how Trump got those staggering numbers that says much about why GOP politicians of all stripes were and still are scared stiff of Trump.
In part it was rage and rebellion against the perceived wheel and dealing corporate, beltway Democrats and Republicans. In another, it was the passionate belief that Trump talks the talk and fights the fight for less educated blue and rural collar workers, a healthy segment of middle-class suburbia, and a not inconsiderable number of Blacks and Hispanics. In even bigger part, it was his deep tap of the racist, anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, nativist, know nothing fear and loathing that is a foundational part of American life.
The Capitol riots won’t change the opinion of more than half of Republicans who claim the election was stolen from Trump. They are so enraged that they still spin every kind of ridiculous conspiracy theory about the alleged theft and make clear they’ll never acknowledge the legitimacy of the Biden presidency. Their shock troop demonstrators, the legions of hard right conspiracy agitators and activists, still make bellicose threats about open and stealth protests of Biden’s inauguration.
Trump’s vote numbers and the frenzy of his backers are the life support of the GOP. Without them, the GOP is in grave danger of losing one or more of the nearly two dozen Senate seats that it must defend in the 2022 mid-term elections. Any GOP fall off the cliff here would kiss good-bye for years to come any chance of a GOP retake of the Senate.
Much is made that America will no longer be an old white guy run country in 2050, that white male voters have steadily dropped in national elections, and that Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, women, and young persons will be the new majority voters. But that’s still a way off, maybe a long way off. White males still have outsized voter clout in the crucial Heartland states and the South.
Trump knew that and that’s why he openly bragged at his 2020 campaign rallies that he’d do exactly what got him elected in 2016. That was to continue to play hard on his base’s latent racist, anti-immigrant, anti-woman, pseudo- patriotic sentiment. That paid off for him in the bizarre, perverse, and deadly assault by thousands on the Capitol.
There’s more. Much is made about the gaping disparity in Capitol police’s kid glove treatment of Trump’s white terrorists versus their bare knuckles, no nonsense crackdown of Black Lives Matter protesters in D.C. months earlier. This was no accident. It was not faulty police intelligence. It was not police unpreparedness. It was not the police being overwhelmed. It was passive complicity on the part of more officers than many care to admit. Remember every major police union backed Trump. It was endemic white privilege on naked display. White males’ control and always have controlled–police, courts, and everything from education to business to wealth.
White suppression of Blacks is the foundational pillar of state power in America-embedded in the Constitution and the founding of the Republic. Put simply the smiling benevolent, look the other way Capitol cops and the white Trump rioters are cut from the same political cloth in their angered view that an unresponsive, liberal leaning government unfairly tilts toward minorities and shafts them.
It will take more than furious, head scratching editorials, tough talk about crackdowns and haranguing Trump, and a handful of arrests, and sadly a riot, to change that.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. His latest book is Why Black Lives Do Matter (Middle Passage Press). He is a weekly co-host of the Al Sharpton Show on Radio One. He is the host of the weekly Hutchinson Report on KPFK 90.7 FM Los Angeles and the Pacifica Network