American Carnage Stops Right Here
On January 20th, 2017, Donald Trump began his presidency with an unconventional speech at his inauguration. It was dark and gloomy rather than hopeful and optimistic. Among the most talked about lines caught most listeners off guard. Trump said, “This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.” Over the next four years Trump focused on problems without offering solutions. But it was more than that. He encouraged conflict rather than reconciliation. Indeed, future generations will not remember his presidency for what he did or said, but rather how it ended. The January 6th attack on the United States Capitol will overshadow his presidency.
The House Select Committee made its first direct appeal to the American people last night. Representative Bennie Thompson summed up their message when he said, “Donald Trump was at the center of this conspiracy.” It is unlikely Congress will pursue another impeachment of the former President. Instead, they want America to understand and remember what happened and why. More than that, it is an effort to mark an important historical moment for future generations. Certain historical moments are more than singular events. They go on to redefine our political identity. They expose our demons so we can overcome them.
After four years in office, history will remember Donald Trump not so much for what he did than for what he did not do. As a riot broke out in the Capital that left more than 150 officers injured, Trump condoned the violence. He is quoted as saying, “Maybe our supporters have the right idea” about hanging Mike Pence. Meanwhile, Officer Caroline Edwards saw “a war scene…. It was carnage. It was chaos.” In the end, despite his promises and proclamations, Trump saw American carnage and refused to stop it.