A bunch of views of which everyone can disagree with at least one

It's been a hell of a week since the despicable white supremacist riot and attempted insurrection at the Capitol. The event should have been unsurprising (not that this specific thing would happen, but that something like it would happen). It's not even clear to me that it's the worst we've seen the past few years (unclear if it's worse than concentration camps for immigrant children or banning people from the U.S. based on their religion, probably somewhat worse than declaring a fake emergency).

Nevertheless, here we are. I unsurprisingly agree with the many Democrats, Never-Trumpers, and Until-Yesterday-Trumpers that we need consequences. BUT all consequences are not equal, and I worry there are going to be some serious mistakes with consequences. With that in mind—here's a rough, informal list of things that I think are good, bad, or iffy. Some are sure to be off, so please tell me why I'm wrong.

Impeachment-ish things
Impeachment
: iffy/good (good if they bar from future office or convict). Consequences for what happened last week are good, but it’s not clear to me that this actually is a consequence without a conviction. It’s just one more mark of shame. If it cements public opinion that this was unacceptable, then good, but I could see it doing the opposite. Also, it’s not clear to me Dems are drafting the impeachment article with an eye to recruit Republicans—they should read some potential impeachment supporters on the right, who have good advice on this. Getting GOP votes to convict should be essentially the only goal. Overall, I think impeachment is good only insofar as it increases the chance of...
Conviction: good. Removal from office basically doesn't matter now, but barring from future office does. (Yes, bad things may happen in the next week, but that seems to be the case either way.) This would, I think, mark a remarkable turn away from the democratic backsliding that has made such traction in recent years (though not everywhere—see, e.g., France).
Nancy Pelosi's call to take away the nuclear codes: bad. She doesn't have any constitutional right to do this, and it’s not clear to me why he’s more of a risk this week than in the previous 200-some-odd weeks. Plus, Trump actually doesn’t seem to like nuclear war much and has a history of statements against it: https://www.vox.com/22220989/trump-nuclear-codes-pelosi-impeachment
25th Amendment: iffy/bad. The current situation does not seem like what the amendment is intended for. If it is, then it probably should have been invoked years ago, as I don't see much reason to think Trump is less sane this week. He acted in a way entirely consistent with past behavior.
14th Amendment Section 3: iffy/good. I think this post-Civil War amendment is underrated. It seems intentionally written to be broader than just the Civil War, and it seems the role of elected officials other than Trump is under-discussed at the moment. Sanctioning dozens of congressmen is scary, but removing Brooks, Gosar, and Biggs under this amendment seems like an underrated idea and would put other potential traitors on notice. It would help set back up some institutional guardrails of our democracy.

Anti-Domestic Terrorism
Passing new laws against domestic terrorism: bad. Most things we’d want to punish are illegal anyway, and these will get used against many more people than just the capitol insurgents. (See Green Is The New Red.)
No fly list: bad. There’s no due process here and little avenue to appeal.

Online things
Twitter and Facebook banning Trump: good. This was a pretty solid case of promotion of violence, and Twitter and Facebook have a lot of properties similar to a newspaper provider when it comes to someone like Trump. (I’d note, though, that I do suspect some activists and politicians on the left are probably guilty over the summer by the same token.)
Apple and Google app stores banning Parler: iffy—I’m unclear whether this falls in the above or below categories.
AWS banning Parler: bad—AWS is kind of like a telephone company. It seems bad for them to be in the business of censoring even violent, hateful speech. This seems like power they incidentally have, not power they've been entrusted with in any real sense.

Political Violence
Bad. Bad, bad, bad. No, seriously, we need to roundly condemn political violence whenever it happens and not equivocate. I say "equivocate" because many of my Facebook friends tolerated the riots against Ann Coulter at Cal, and friends who are also outraged at anti-black racism in the U.S. certainly equivocated this summer (e.g. repeating "riots are the voice of the unheard" without any real understanding of MLK's speech). To be sure, Republicans would do "whataboutism" either way, but I think greater clarity from progressive leaders would still be good.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Last week's events were terrifying, but in my view not completely shocking. They're a reminder that horribly evil things happen even when the sun is shining.

We need to get the next steps right because we need to be a hopeful story of avoiding autocracy. Stories of doom are common, but it is possible to fend of threats of autocracy, like the US, UK, and elsewhere successfully did as fascism grew in the 1930s and like post-independence countries from India to South Africa have done despite histories of conflict and charismatic leaders.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

What I Learned from a Year Spent Studying How to Get Policymakers to Use Evidence

How Much Do Wild Animals Suffer? A Foundational Result on the Question is Wrong.

Do Trump rallies spread COVID-19?