While David Brooks makes a strong case for “Biden Optimism” in the second article above, the more cogent points are made by Astead W. Herndon in the first piece about the aftermath of the 2017 white supremacist demonstration and riot in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017. Mr. Biden’s message of unity not withstanding, there still needs to be some accountability for the riot in Charlottesville and the one in Washington, DC on January 6. The Nazis cannot go unpunished this time.
The first bit of accountability is making sure that Donald Trump can never hold national office again. That can only transpire after his impeachment (done) and his trial in the Senate (pending in February). He needs to be found guilty and somehow the Democrats need to find 17 Republicans to vote with them, but only after a fair trial. It is not at all obvious that Mr. Trump is responsible for the destruction on Capitol Hill especially if that insurrection was planned long before Trump’s incendiary speech on January 6. The case can also be made that Trump’s denial of the result of the November 3 election and his consistent declaration that the election was stolen from him was seditious as well as inciting. This may be a tough case to make, but not impossible. Regardless, it is critical that this final step be taken despite the fact that some like Alan Dershowitz don’t believe a non-sitting president can be tried. A non-sitting Secretary of War was tried in the past and in the name of justice, Trump needs to be tried. He may be guilty of almost having one entire branch of the government killed by hooligans waving banners with his name on them.
A trial would be very good for the Republicans who really need to cleanup their party. (See Jeremy Peters piece in The New York Times:
The next bit of accountability is the trials of all of those people who charged up Capitol Hill on January 6 and defaced, looted, pillaged and destroyed the seat of our democracy while threatening the lives of the lawmakers inside. It is absolutely essential that as many of the mob as can be identified be found, prosecuted and penalized if found guilty. There is no deterrence without justice and the white supremacists who dominated the mob waving Trump banners and Confederate flags in the halls of the Capitol must meet justice by the very system they attempted to tear down.
I really do appreciate the new president’s message of unity. He has set the right tone for America by trying to take down the temperature, but is already meeting criticism from Republicans for doing what every other president of either party has done when entering office—using executive orders to implement his policies. It would be best if this new policy direction can be done by legislative action—a slow process. Much of what President Biden has signed into orders could not wait, especially surrounding actions taken to meet the challenge of the coronavirus.
“Uncle Joe” is very avuncular and wants to turn the heat down, but while parents want quiet not justice as Bill Cosby has noted, justice is the prelude to progress. All the people who tried to bring down this government and this country through strong-arm tactics and mob violence must be held accountable for their words and deeds. That starts with Mr. Trump, but does not end with him. His storm troopers need to be brought to justice as well.
And that is just the start of national reconciliation. But it is a necessary start. I understand forgiveness, but not for this. A mob tried to kill the sitting vice president and Speaker of the House along with their legislative colleagues. You don’t get a pass on that.