We have witnessed in the last few months numerous acts of political terror, from threats to harm election officials, legislators and their families to the insurrection on January 6, 2021, when a riotous mob sought to affect the votes of Senators and Congressmen when ratifying the electoral college vote of December 14, 2020. That vote was required to complete the last constitutional step to confirm Joe Biden as the next President of the United States.
Donald Trump and the insurrectionists, both in the House and the Senate, and in the Capitol invaded by a pro-Trump mob, sought to block that vote, and thus to overthrow the November 3 presidential election and the Constitution of the United States.
The threats and insurrection constituted, and constitute, acts of political terror.
These acts continue, as threats of assassination and physical harm are made against Senators and Congressmen who have opposed the authoritarian President’s fascist will. Under Trump, very few of these threats appear to have led to investigation and prosecution by federal officials.
On January 6, 2021 and yesterday, on January 13, 2021, the votes of several legislators were apparently influenced by these threats and their own fears of physical harm.
This is political terror. It is continuing today.
What can be done to stop it?
While it may not be possible to halt all threats and physical violence, at least three steps may immediately be taken which should help to diminish the number and level of the threats and the violence.
First, Joe Biden, or perhaps Kamala Harris, should make a forceful statement to the effect that all such threats and all such violence will be investigated and all individuals found responsible will be prosecuted, for all crimes, even criminal trespass or refusal to disperse when ordered to do so by the authorities.
Unfortunately, few of the rioters who invaded the Capitol on January 6 were arrested and charged, and only small numbers have been arrested and charged since then. Assurances that the number would rise, into the hundreds, were ill-advised because they left the impression that many more, in the thousands, would suffer no consequences for their participation in the insurrection.
A clear statement and warning is now needed from Biden or Harris, stating that every individual who participated in the riot or criminal trespass on the Capitol grounds will be prosecuted, even if it takes four years to gather evidence and bring the charges.
They should make equally clear that any individual who participates in the future in such actions, whether in the days before the inauguration, on January 20, or thereafter, will be similarly prosecuted.
Potential criminals should be informed that threats against federal legislators are federal crimes, and will be prosecuted by federal officials. At the state level, state governors and attorneys general should make similar forceful statements.
It is important that all such declarations spell out the potential prison terms to which rioters may be liable.
It may be one thing to make threats or commit acts of violence in delusional support of Trump and his insurrection. But it may be quite another, when potential rioters and aggressors are forced to reflect on whether going on such a lark is worth 10-20 years in prison.
Second, incoming Biden officials should make it publicly known that if any government officials act to thwart or delay security measures, they will be thoroughly investigated, fired, and criminally charged as may be appropriate.
Third, the inauguration ceremonies, aside from those essential to the transfer of power and the swearing in of Biden and Harris at noon on January 20, 2021, should be postponed for several weeks. All non-required participants and witnesses should be invited not to attend on January 20 but rather to attend the inauguration ceremonies to be held several weeks later.
The actual swearing in of Biden should be done in a totally secure location, in a bunker if necessary.
Once Joe Biden is securely in power and as Commander-in-Chief is in clear command of the Capitol Police, the Secret Service, the Justice Department and its forces, National Guard units which have been mobilized, and the U.S. military, a special inauguration celebration should be held in Washington, security permitting. This could occur in early February.
No one shouldd think, “It can’t happen here.” Some of it did happen here, on January 6. The votes of legislators have been influenced by political terror, and by legislators’ fears for their own lives and families.
This attempted coup and Trump-sponsored insurrection and political terror must be brought to an end. Immediately.
All of the forces of public order, and of criminal investigation and prosecution, must be fully deployed to end this political terror.
The Trenchant Observer