The American Journey

Author: Gary Hart

A critical chapter in America’s complex story is being written right now.  Will we continue to be a Republic founded on democratic rights and ideals.  Or will we continue to permit a slide into authoritarian populism recently overtaking democracies here and elsewhere.

Since the media finds it easier to focus on personalities than ideas, this historic moment will almost totally be about Donald Trump and the future of what, for lack of a better reference, is being referred to as “Trumpism”, never quite defined.

It is fashionable to characterize moments like this as a “crossroads”.  And in this case that description is accurate.  These are turning points that define individuals, societies, and nations.

In important ways the question is how to save democracy, and its freedoms, without resorting to undemocratic means and methods.

Bringing stricter law enforcement and surveillance tactics to bear on the plethora of right-wing militia and quasi-political organizations can easily border on violation of Constitutional rights in much the same way that civil rights, anti-war, and progressive movements have complained of in the Cold War era and since.

Caution is advised.  But clearly the methods of the right have threatened the democratic order more than methods on the left.  As many were quick to point out, peaceful black-lives-matter marches are in a separate universe from destructive thuggish invasions of the Capitol.

But it is a caution for progressive groups to suppress destructive actions undertaken in the wake of their otherwise peaceful protests.  Destruction of a business window is of a different magnitude from destroying doors and windows of the Capitol.

And it is particularly so when violence against the cathedral of democracy is fomented by a president of the United States because he lost an election fairly conducted.  And this is the point.  It must never be forgotten, including by Republican politicians, that this outrage was organized from beginning to end by Donald Trump whom they empowered for four years.

The whole world is watching, along with America’s children, how we go about righting the ship of state, how we punish the offenders, how we honor the heroes, how we re-establish stability and statesmanship.

All Americans must denounce this outrage.  But for those of us honored to have conducted the business of the United States government in those Congressional chambers and walked those hallways under the gaze of great American patriots, it will remain a deeply painful moment that cannot and will not be forgotten.

The stains, both real and symbolic, left by those criminals are indelible.  They are ugly tattoos on our memories.  They represent a sewer running mostly unobserved under the American Republic.  The offenses created by that howling mob were on behalf of an accidental president who has not earned our respect nor deserved our support.  Our Capitol and what it stands for was damaged on behalf of a giant lie and a twisted ego.

Too bad Donald Trump does not have a conscience.  Otherwise, he might have to spend what’s left of his life suffering regret for his egotism, selfishness, and unpatriotic behavior.  It is left for history and its verdict to judge him.  That judgment will be and should be harsh.  But he and those who empowered him will have to deal with it.

Meanwhile, the overwhelming number of good people in America must restore our nation’s honor.  The eyes of Washington, Lincoln, Roosevelt, and many others, the eyes of battalions of John McCains and other military heroes, and most of all the eyes of our children and future generations are on us as we set about restoring our Republic and making it stronger.

Truth is marching on.

5 Responses to “The American Journey”


    Very poignant. You and your colleagues from both parties, of your era, of service, are in despair.

    Great to see unity across party, from and amongst those who are decent and not despotic.

    The great and the good of old would truly wonder in many senses, what is this new thing called, here, elsewhere, Trumpism?

    It is, like much that rises up from the sewer you allude to here, a hybrid, of easy, yearnings, tendencies, from one man, with many, men, in thrall, and too many women too, for it to be understood!

    Mussolini, Hitler, at the evil side of this,Father Coughlin, Trump, at the softer, end.

    Hard to understand how those on the whole of a hang em and flog em, law and orer type, can trash this, when it suits them!

  2. Stephen D. Pillow Says:

    On Wednesday, 6 January, 2021, I was wondering how the Electoral College vote count was going in Congress. Yes, I knew that der Fuehrer had “invited” his jockstraps to Washington to protest his loss in November. However, I was not prepared for what I saw and heard. I sat mesmerized, when I turned on my TV for my afternoon news fix at 15:00 hours. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. It had to be some 3rd world country, some despotic dictatorship, somewhere other than America. I changed channels. The same videos, pictures, news clips were everywhere. I got on the internet to see if I could make sense of what was happening. What the hell were those rioters doing on the steps and in the halls of my Capitol?

    As more details came out, I went through a wide range of emotions, anger, hate, fear, sadness, heartfelt pain. and some more loss of the last vestiges of my “60’s naivete. The evil forces in our world were actually attacking our bastion of liberty and freedom. AND THERE WERE NO LAW ENFORCEMENT PERSONNEL STOPPING THEM!

    Senator Hart has done a good job of parsing out the situation as is his ability like few others of our time. For me, anyway, in his closing paragraphs of this commentary he pulls this awful event together so very well.

    “The stains, both real and symbolic, left by those criminals are indelible. They are ugly tattoos on our memories. They represent a sewer running mostly unobserved under the American Republic. The offenses created by that howling mob were on behalf of an accidental president who has not earned our respect nor deserved our support. Our Capitol and what it stands for was damaged on behalf of a giant lie and a twisted ego.”

  3. H. Patrick Pritchard Says:


    This act by right wing extremists was the prelude by an amalgamation of extremist groups in their declaration of war against the United States of America. It is happening! Barbarians are at the gate! What brought the Roman Republic to its knees is happening to us. We have a crazy man in the White House who covets power and control and will throw America under the bus to retain it. Stick your head in the sand at your own risk.

    From the beginning of his Presidential campaign Donald Trump has stoked the fires of rebellion by appealing to these groups. His attack on President Obama’s birth certificate prior to his campaign was a signal to these groups of his racist credentials. His attacks on immigrants were offered as further evidence of his racist agenda. These groups got the message and his remarks about the riot in Charlottesville was icing on the cake.

    Every one of his actions since that time has blazed a path to January 6, 2021. Trump told us time and again since 2015- 2016 if he lost an election it had to be rigged! He commissioned a group under the leadership of Kris Kobach to investigate major voter fraud in the 2016 election because he lost the popular vote to Hillary by 3 plus million votes. The commission disbanded several months later without finding any evidence of voter fraud.

    Trump lost the Presidential election of 2020 by more than 7 million votes. True to character he claimed the election results were rigged with fraudulent votes and election machine tampering! As in 2016 over 60 court decisions including 2 Supreme Court rulings could find no evidence of fraudulent voting. Trump’s team of lawyers offered no valid proof only speculation and conspiracy theories! Yet Trump and his enablers continued to contend the election was stolen to his supporters. The results is current history!

    On January 6, 2021 Trump told his crowd of supporters to fight like hell or they wouldn’t have a country. His personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, told them to engage in trail by combat. Rep. Mo Brooks from Alabama told them to kick ass! Donald Trump Jr. told them to go after Republican legislators who did not support stopping the electoral count saying, “We are coming for you!”

    This rhetoric lit the fuse to incite the crowd to an act of insurrection against the United States Government and resulted in the death of five citizens. The brought ropes and a gallows to hang Mike Pence and Nancy Pelosi among others, broke glass to gain entrance, beat Capitol policemen, beat one to his death, stole laptops and other items, and defecated on the premises all in the name of Donald Trump! These were not patriots. The were anarchists, cultist, and the tools of Donald Trump.

    Article 14, Section 3 of the United States Constitution clearly states
    No Person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

    Providing aid and comfort to the insurrectionist certainly qualifies as a high crime and grounds for impeachment. Furthermore, actions taken by eight US Senators and147 members of the House of Representatives before and after the insurrection to promote Donald Trump’s claim of a stolen election could qualify as an act of providing aid and comfort to the insurrectionist! The list includes: Senators Cruz, Hawley, Hyde-Smith, Kennedy, Lummis, Marshall, Rick Scott, and Tuberville; Representative Mo Brooks, Gohmert, Kevin McCarthy, Paul Goslar, Andy Brigg, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Jim Jordan, Matt Gaetz, Ron Estes, Jake LaTurner, Tracey Mann and 136 other Republican representatives. Likewise criminal charges should be brought against Rudy Giuliani, Mark Meadows, Donald Trump, Jr. and others who promoted the Trump lie about the election results.

    To those Republican legislators who feel Trump committed an impeachable offense but are afraid of the consequences to vote ‘aye’ I can only offer this. Courage is not the absence of fear, it is acting in spite of fear. If you live in fear you can really never be free!

    Trump’s statements today appealing for calm and no violence is too little too late especially for those five citizens whose blood was shed in the name of what? Madness!

  4. Stephen D. Pillow Says:


    I wish to thank you for your commentary, which fills the void in so much of the news that has been published/broadcast since 6 January, 2021 about the mob insurrection against the Capitol and our government. Your listing of the names of the senators and the principal representatives guilty of providing aid and comfort to the insurrection puts names and faces to the events, acts, and actions of that date. The major news outlets seem to be afraid of doing this. Again, thank you.


  5. Eric C. Jacobson Says:
    It would be tempting to take comfort in Don Caron’s (half-serious) conclusion about the ominous events of Jan. 6th—that the net effect of the Trump interregnum is a progressive political rebirth—but I can’t.

    Alas, Brian Becker (whose fully socialist politics differs considerably from my own stridently social democratic outlook) has the better view: that we narrowly averted a fascist coup d’etat. See his cogent summary here:

    What made the attempted coup fascist was the decision of the majority of House Republicans and a vocal fanatic minority of Senate Republicans (to their everlasting shame and disgrace) to join Trump’s unsuccessful- but quite real seditious conspiracy (of highly menacing but still uncertain depth) to end our 224 year American tradition of peaceful transfer of presidential power pursuant to the results of reasonably free and fair democratic elections.

    And again: It’s crystal clear Biden ACTUALLY decisively won (NOT by “rigging”) the 2020 national popular vote (and almost certainly by more than the 4% officially reported). See the highly accurate USC Dornsife poll’s excellent methodology here: They had Joe winning the popular vote by 10% for weeks.

    As for the electoral college, Alyssa Farah, Trump’s recently resigned communications aide, stated: “The results of the election almost perfectly aligned w/ our internal polling.” See

    In my view the Democrats badly erred in not using these and other data points to sharply publicly DEMOLISH the Goebbelsian big lie Trump criminally-insanely foisted on his ardent supporters and ordinary Republicans—that he had won a presidential election he had lost—as I suggested in a comment to a brilliant NY Times essay on the attempted coup by Timothy Snyder. See

    It’s blatantly obvious then that Trump, a world-historical con-artist (see maliciously and malevolently attempted to interrupt America’s 224 year tradition of peaceable transfer of presidential power per the results of reasonably free and fair democratic elections. And that (unlike the Democrats’ first very-badly-premised impeachment) Trump has been fully justly impeached a second time for doing so. Sadly though the chances that he’ll be convicted by the Senate and forever barred from holding public office, are vanishingly small.

    Other issues (including ones surrounding urgently needed fixes to our insufficiently transparent and overly privatized and computerized voting tabulation systems) I alluded-to in my essay on the Texas v. Pennsylvania lawsuit (, and the (still highly mysterious) coincidental advent of the perilous Covid-19 pandemic at the outset of a 2020 presidential year which would’ve favored the incumbent in the absence of the economic and social catastrophe the pandemic wrought, are for another day.

    My melancholy new year postscript: I’ve said for ~4 decades many if not most Republicans were and are “fascists on good behavior.” And have been ever since ultra-rightists “shot their way to power” (through underground assassins) between 1963 (JFK) and 1972 (Wallace).

    I’m now of the belief that virtually all Republicans, comprising some 40% of American voters, identify as Nazi-type authoritarians. Ugh! John Dean discusses (in general terms anyway) this dismal social scientific reality in his latest book. Have a listen to his interview on Warren Olney‘s podcast here (at the 34:35 mark):

    “Houston, we’ve got a problem” doesn’t begin to describe the present (essentially FUBAR) macro-political situation. Alas, this was ALL predictable (another topic for another day).

    Notwithstanding: Warmest wishes to all in this (hopefully temporarily) joyless new year.

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