THE HUTCHINSON REPORT
The Capitol riot won’t change anything
By Earl Ofari Hutchinson
Three things happened within a day of each other that tell much about why the Capitol riots won’t change a darn thing.
A judge in Iowa City, Iowa. brazenly announced that a white terrorist who plowed into a group of police abuse protesters would not serve a day’s time in jail for his deadly act. Instead, he got probation and his record can be expunged.
Right-wing talk show gabber Rush Limbaugh bragged that he deactivated his Twitter account in protest of Twitter banning President Donald Trump and despite running for their safety from the Capitol when the rioters attacked, a core of Republican senators still continued their challenge of the Electoral College tally.
The mountain of handwringing about the lawlessness, the volumes of angry editorial about the riots and the drumbeat calls for impeachment and invoking the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office, mask another brutal reality.
Trump will finish his term and there is little evidence that the millions who back Trump have had a Saul-on-the-road-to-Damascus epiphany. The reasons for that remain the same.
Despite all the saber rattling by some Republican senators against Trump, and angry finger pointing at those senators, such as Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley, for inciting the mob, GOP senators were blunt. Impeachment has zero chance of getting any traction among them. They can count votes. Trump’s 74 million-plus votes is the greatest number of votes a losing presidential candidate has gotten in a free election anywhere, ever.
In fact, it’s a greater number than any American presidential winner has ever gotten. But it’s how Trump got those staggering numbers that says much about why Republican politicians of all stripes are still scared stiff of Trump.
In part it was rage and rebellion against the perceived wheeling and dealing in the beltway between both Democrats and Republicans. In another, it was the passionate belief that Trump talks the talk and fights the fight for less educated blue-collar and rural workers, a healthy segment of middle-class suburbia and a not inconsiderable number of Blacks and Hispanics.
In even bigger part, it was his deep tap of the racist, anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim fear and loathing that is a foundational part of American life.
The Capitol riots won’t change the opinion of more than half the Republicans who claim the election was stolen from Trump. They are so enraged that they still spin every kind of ridiculous conspiracy theory about the alleged theft and make clear they’ll never acknowledge the legitimacy of the Biden presidency.
Their shock troop demonstrators, the legions of hard right conspiracy agitators and activists still make bellicose threats about open and stealth protests of Biden’s inauguration.
Trump’s election numbers and the frenzy of his backers are the life support of the GOP. Without them, the party is in grave danger of losing one or more of the nearly two dozen Senate seats that it must defend in the 2022 mid-term elections.
Any Republican falling off the cliff would kiss good-bye for years to come any chance of the Republicans retaking the Senate.
Much is made that America will no longer be an old white guy run country in 2050, that white male voters have steadily dropped in national elections, and that Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, women and young persons will be the new majority voters. But that’s still a way off, maybe a long way off.
White males still have outsized voter clout in the crucial heartland states and the South.
Trump knew that and that’s why he openly bragged at his 2020 campaign rallies that he would do exactly what got him elected in 2016. That was to continue to play hard on his base’s latent racist, anti-immigrant, anti-woman, pseudo-patriotic sentiment. That paid off for him in the bizarre, perverse and deadly assault by thousands on the Capitol.
There is more. Much is made about the gaping disparity in Capitol police’s kid glove treatment of Trump’s white terrorists versus their bare-knuckles, no-nonsense crackdown of Black Lives Matter protesters in D.C. months earlier. That was no accident.
It was not faulty police intelligence. It was not police unpreparedness. It was not the police being overwhelmed. It was passive complicity on the part of more officers than many care to admit.
Remember that every major police union backed Trump. It was endemic white privilege on naked display. White males’ control and always have controlled police, courts, and everything from education to business to wealth.
White suppression of Blacks is the foundational pillar of state power in America, embedded in the Constitution and the founding of the republic.
Put simply the smiling benevolent, look-the-other-way Capitol cops and the white Trump rioters are cut from the same political cloth in their angered view that an unresponsive, liberal-leaning government unfairly tilts toward minorities and shafts them.
It will take more than furious, head-scratching editorials, tough talk about crackdowns and a handful of arrests after a riot to change that.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. His latest book is “Why Black Lives Do Matter” (Middle Passage Press). He also a weekly co-host of the Al Sharpton Show on Radio One and the host of the weekly Hutchinson Report on KPFK 90.7 FM Los Angeles and the Pacifica Network.