Insurrection is not birthed from a single speech.
Though President Donald Trump stoked enflamed passions and exhorted a crowd he convened to “walk down to the Capitol,” which they subsequently ransacked as the world watched, it is folly to lay this tragic outcome entirely at his feet.
Trump had plenty of help along the way.
Before he even took the stage on Wednesday, his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, told the crowd “trial by combat” would be necessary. Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr. ratcheted the rhetoric even higher by warning legislators that “we’re coming for you” only hours before the crowd stormed the Capitol.
None of this is new. Trump and his sycophants spent the past five years, nearly every moment since he descended the escalator in Trump Tower, cultivating resentment, anger and hate.
As Trump’s sway over the Republican Party grew, the cacophony of copycats’ caterwauling grew with it. Here in Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert is the perfect example.
Boebert won a divisive primary against incumbent Republican Rep. Scott Tipton by accusing him of failing to fight for Trump, failing to fight for the upset mob and failing to fight Democrats like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Boebert believed a far more confrontational, shrill approach should be taken. The sidearm strapped to her hip became her greatest campaign slogan. She railed against Democrats, demonizing them with every opportunity. Even the Tweet pinned to the top of her Twitter profile begins with “I’m fighting …”
And when she rose to the floor for her inaugural speech on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, she began with a groan-inducing joke centered on the bloodshed of one of America’s founders. Hours later, the bloodshed of a woman who helped storm the Capitol would be spilled in the halls of the venerable building.
Of course, before she even began screaming from the lectern on the floor – and she was screaming rather than engaging in any form of debate – she had made sure to post “Today is 1776” on her Twitter feed.
The clear reference to the revolutionary war against England has been a calling card for enthusiasts of violent action in support of Trump over the past few weeks. If Boebert does not understand the weight and significance of her words, then maybe she should begin attending the funerals of the men and women who will likely die following her lead.
Of course, Boebert is far from alone being swept up by the swell of crowds reacting to her bloodlust rhetoric. Sen. Josh Hawley from Missouri fed his presidential ambitions by leading the Quixotic charge against counting the Electoral College votes for Joe Biden. On the way to his wanton act of egoism, he raised his fist in tribute as they prepared to overwhelm the woefully inadequate Capitol security forces.
In the immediate aftermath of the deadly attack, many Republicans who spent years working toward this moment sought to deflect from their own complicity and baselessly claim that the conservative boogeyman antifa had been responsible for the carnage. It took less than a day for the most ridiculously dressed traitor to be identified as a leading member of the QAnon conspiracy movement Trump and Boebert have flirted with for months.
I will not hold my breath for introspection from Trump, Boebert, Hawley or any other Republican elected official actively involved in stirring such unrest. After all, 45% of the party support the violent, unlawful, traitorous acts of the mob.
Out of office, Trump’s outsized influence will continue “long into the future.” Notwithstanding a significant gerrymandering effort, Boebert should be firmly rooted into a reliably safe congressional district. And Hawley has another four years before he must face re-election in a red-trending Missouri.
This past Wednesday represented a national disgrace and embarrassment not witnessed in a quarter millennium. But as long as leaders keep priming them, we likely will not have to wait much longer to see another.
Mario Nicolais is an attorney and columnist who writes on law enforcement, the legal system, health care and public policy. Follow him on Twitter: @MarioNicolaiEsq