POWELL: Washington had no 'coup' but Connecticut had one

Published on Wednesday, 10 February 2021 21:14
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Democrats ran against Herbert Hoover for 20 years after 1932. Now they seem to be planning to run against Donald Trump for another 20.

The Democrats' second attempt to impeach the former president even though he has left office is only part of it. Many in the party are campaigning to banish from public life anyone who supported Trump in any way and even trying to suspend freedom of speech.

As for Trump himself, there has been hardly a peep from him since he left office Jan. 20. Even during his last days in the White House he seemed to have little to do once his Twitter account was taken away.

While there is speculation that he will try to start a political party of his own or a television news channel, he probably lacks the wit or energy, and maybe even the money, to do more than tweet, if he can find another mechanism for that.

With luck Trump will fade into history and Lincoln's old observation will be vindicated, if narrowly: "While the people retain their virtue and vigilance, no administration, by any extreme of wickedness or folly, can very seriously injure the government in the short space of four years."

Democrats keep insisting that by calling his supporters to a rally in Washington on Jan. 6, the day of the electoral vote count, Trump meant to stage a "coup." Certainly he wanted the rally to pressure Congress to count the votes his way, but a "coup" goes far beyond that. A coup is the seizure of the major agencies of government, and nothing like that was happening Jan. 6.

Take the Trump supporter who came to symbolize the rioters who split off from the main body of the rally and broke into the Capitol - the barechested guy wearing a bear skin, Viking horns, and face paint. Was he expecting to become interior secretary or chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff?

Was the slob who was photographed with his feet up on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's desk waiting for the call appointing him surgeon general or ambassador to France?

Hardly. Those guys likely will be doing prison time soon. For after the riot the big fear in Washington was not about a coup but that so many of Trump's top aides were resigning or about to resign in disgust that there might be no one to keep the lights on at the White House until the new president arrived, much less give instructions for martial law.

But even as the Trump rally failed as a coup, a real coup was succeeding in Connecticut. Governor Lamont was scheming to extend by another two months his emergency powers to rule the state by decree during the virus epidemic, powers to proclaim, amend, or suspend any laws: L'etat, c'est moi. Now Connecticut will be going without representative government for more than a year, though the rest of state and municipal government has remained perfectly capable of operation.

The governor is a Democrat and extending his emergency powers was ratified by the leaders of the Democratic majority in the General Assembly. Since they are in the same party, they might be expected to have no trouble governing in normal fashion. But in an interview with the Connecticut Mirror a few days after his emergency powers were extended, the governor said he was starting to like running the state on his own, without having to bother with the legislature. It seemed so much more efficient to him.

Of course efficiency always has been dictatorship's argument against democracy. Democratic legislators are letting the governor enjoy dictatorship a little too much - and maybe they are enjoying their own irrelevance too much as well.

When he was president Trump presided over the same epidemic as the governor has been presiding over and yet he never invoked any undemocratic emergency powers, though he might have. If he had, the Democrats who have politely abdicated for Lamont would have screamed bloody murder.

Though no one in authority in Connecticut seems to have noticed it, the U.S. Constitution prohibits dictatorship anywhere in the country: "The United States shall guarantee to every state in this Union a republican form of government."

Connecticut no longer has a republican form of government, and it wasn't the aspiring tyrant Trump who took it away but some of his vociferous adversaries.

Chris Powell is a columnist for the Journal Inquirer in Manchester.

Posted in The Bristol Press, Column, Editorials on Wednesday, 10 February 2021 21:14. Updated: Wednesday, 10 February 2021 21:17.