No peace, love and understanding, it is time for a reckoning

By Mike McGann, Editor, The Times @mikemcgannpa

What happened Wednesday at the U.S. Capitol had the feeling of the inevitable if you were willing to pay attention.

Those of us who issued the alarm years ago were dismissed as having “Trump Derangement Syndrome.” We were ignored right up until the point where Donald Trump incited a riot and attempted a coup d’etat as Congress moved to certify the victory of Joe Biden as the new president.

Now, we’re getting the both sides need to “cool the rhetoric and blah, blah, blah,” mostly from Republicans.

Bull. The Republicans own this mess and there needs to be a reckoning.

Yes, there are those on the left and in the Democratic Party who are over the top and say ill-advised things. They tend to get swatted down or moderated by the mass of the party. Democrats and those on the left are used to coping with diversity, both in membership and opinion.

And yes, there were widespread — and justified — protests about systemic racism in America. They were largely peaceful — and much of the violence that happened was sparked by White Nationalists. Keep in mind, Democratic leaders — including Biden — immediately condemned violence and property damage.

On the other side, a large number Republicans have waged a war on the legitimacy of any Democrat holding office — especially the Presidency — since the early 1990s. For a while, enough moderate, sane Republicans kept the radical anti-democracy wing of the party mostly under control.

Then we elected a black guy president.

Under the BS “Tea Party” banner, a grass roots White Rage faction took over the party of Lincoln in response to the election of Barack Obama. Locally, here in Chester County, it meant moderate, sane Republican County Committee people were replaced by radicals — something seen across the country. To avoid primaries, incumbents needed to join the crazy. When the crazy wasn’t enough, they still got primaried and some lost — putting wacked-out conspiracy theorists in governments across the country.

That led to a terrible, tragic race to the bottom.

Enter Donald J. Trump.

You know the rest. With a few notable exceptions — Sen. Mitt Romney and to some extent, our Sen. Pat Toomey, stand out as examples — the entire GOP rejected their core beliefs in support of whatever Trump demanded. A political party became hostage to a violent, racist cult.

That led to kids in cages, the Muslim ban, 360,000 dead from COVID and so much more. Most Republicans stayed quiet because they got their conservative judges and a big tax cut for the rich and corporate types — and they were afraid of Trump and his Twitter feed.

They stayed quiet for the most part — or like Sen. Josh Hawley and Sen. Ted Cruz, echoed and amplified — as misinformation and lies about the outcome the election spewed from Trump and his minions. The claims of fraud and such were untrue — Biden won the election by a fairly large margin — and they knew it, but it didn’t matter to them. They kept feeding the lie to advance their political careers and bilk people out of campaign donations.

Eight Pennsylvania Congressmen claimed the presidential election was somehow illegal — it wasn’t — but their own election was just fine. They do not deserve to continue serving in office.

This deal with the devil culminated with a literal attempt to overthrow the government and the deaths of five people including a Capitol Police Officer — and according to some sources, a desire by some in the mob to assassinate Vice President Mike Pence. We may be looking at another attack immediately before or during the inauguration of President Biden — with potential coordinated attacks at state, county and local government buildings.

So, no. We do not need to let bygones be bygones.

You don’t play a part in trying to overthrow the government and then get a group hug.

In 1865, a plot by southern sympathizers to attack the leadership of the U.S. Government led to the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Secretary of State William Seward was attacked and stabbed — he survived. Plots to kill Gen. U.S. Grant and Vice President Andrew Johnson failed because of schedule changes in the case of the former, and loss of nerve by the attacker in the latter.

The majority of the conspirators — including those who only aided and abetted the plot — were hanged after being convicted at trial.

I do not call for executions, but there must be a serious legal and political reckoning for those who aided and supported this act of insurrection. Any state legislators — state Sen. Doug Mastriano was at the protest, but denies entering the Capitol — who were involved should lose their seats, as required under the U.S. Constitution, 14th Amendment, Section 3.

There have to be consequences, serious consequences for those who aided, abetted and supported this attack on the U.S. Constitution and our democracy. Otherwise, we invite another, better organized attack and the potential loss of our republic.

Obviously, Donald Trump needs to be removed from office as quickly as possible.

Once justice is served, only then we can speak of reconciliation.


It will be no surprise to regular readers of this column that Lt. Gov. John Fetterman announced Friday that he was setting up an exploratory committee for a run for the U.S. Senate in 2022. With Sen. Toomey retiring, the seat will be open.

Fetterman will be a formidable candidate, with a reputation as a straight talker. He has been a vocal proponent of legalization of marijuana and for LGBTQ rights in the state. While both stances might have been seen as too liberal even just a couple of years ago, both stances now have become mainstream — only those deeply out of touch with current public opinion oppose such moves.

Fetterman should run strong in his native Pittsburgh region as well as in the Northwest and Northeast portions of the state, with his working-class ethos and straight talk. In the southeast, he has the appeal of two Masters degrees, including a Masters in Public Policy from the prestigious Kennedy School of Government at Harvard — proving his intellectual chops.

His early move and growing name ID with him often being the voice defending the Pennsylvania election process on cable TV news could clear the Democratic primary.

With it very likely that an extreme candidate — as we saw in 2018 — emerge from a fractured Republican Party, Fetterman could cruise in a general election.

It seems unlikely any moderate can emerge for GOP, especially one from the southeast. Too many of the moderate voters that used to support such candidates have left the party. Most will have some sort of stain of Trump, either from backing him, or for a voting record that supported him. They won’t be Trumpy enough for the true believers, but carry the whiff of indulging Trump to the remaining moderates.

Meanwhile, the aggrieved lunatic fringe will come out in droves to support the next version of Scott Wagner or Lou Barletta.

Another problem: the once formidable county GOP organizations in Chester, Montgomery, Bucks and Delaware have been gutted that might have supported moderates. They have neither the money nor the resources to be of much help to favorite son candidates — and almost all have been compromised by radicals.

Most likely, an underfunded extremist candidate will emerge from the middle of the state and win the primary. As was the case in 2018, the general election will not be pretty for the GOP.

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