The mob that attacked the U.S. Capitol is long gone, but a mob mentality remains inside and out. The second impeachment trial of Donald Trump — this time for allegedly triggering an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol — has failed, but the pitchforks and torches remain in easy reach. Teaching their children that “blessed are the peacemakers” while electing leaders who vow to “fight like hell” is, regrettably, the American way.
The shift of presidential leadership was supposed to signal a fresh start. “Politics doesn’t have to be a raging fire, destroying everything in its path,” President Biden intoned during his inauguration speech. “We have to be different than this, America has to be better than this, and I believe America is better than this.”
Many citizens share his belief, at least in theory, but proof is in the polling. An Ipsos-Reuters survey, published just prior to the former president’s acquittal in a 57-43 vote Saturday, found that 50% of respondents would have convicted Mr. Trump if they had a vote. Another 38% would have found him not guilty and the remainder were undecided.
The “raging fire” in Congress that condemned the Trump presidency burned in rough proportion to national party affiliation. A December Gallup poll found 31% of Americans identify as Democrats and 25% as Republicans. Another 41% claim independent status, breaking down into 50% “Democrats or Democratic leaners,” and 39% “Republicans or Republican leaners.”
Americans condemn the sort of violence that erupted on Capitol Hill Jan. 6, but ideology-filtered judgment of the Trump impeachment spectacle demonstrates there is little interest in halting the sort of destructive politics that Mr. Biden claims to abhor. If anything, his election increased the likelihood that the Washington power structure, which so-called “progressives” now own, is prepared to incinerate the notion that “America is better than this.”
Speaker Nancy Pelosi lit the post-inaugural match with her hastily organized House impeachment proceeding. Rep. Jamie Raskin quizzically called the acquittal “dramatic success in historical terms,” even as his fellow impeachment managers dishonored the Senate with evidentiary videos doctored to exclude Mr. Trump‘s calls for peaceful protest.
Fuming behind her face mask, Mrs. Pelosi refused to accept failure, pledging Monday to empanel a “9/11-type” commission to figure out what went wrong on Jan. 6 and how security can be fortified on Capitol Hill. Welcome to “Castle Hill.”
Seven Republican senators who joined Democrats in choosing to convict Mr. Trump voted their consciences rather than party. If their decisions were informed by the U.S. Constitution, though, they might have represented the consciences of their constituents.
Democrats claimed Donald Trump deserved conviction because he told supporters to “fight like hell” or they would lose their country. He is gone, but Americans have chosen to replace him with President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, who have both vowed to “fight like hell.” This is what passes for “progress.”