On Nov. 9, 2016, I was in editor-publisher Gerri Sweeney’s office at The Villager newspaper when she asked me what I thought of the election’s result the day before. My response: “I hope whatever [Donald Trump] does, I hope it doesn’t make Watergate look like a cakewalk.”
Fifty months later, here we are. Mobs stormed the U.S. Capitol after being encouraged to do so by the president elected in 2016. It’s that simple.
What the world witnessed Jan. 6 was domestic terrorism, instigated by someone who only cares about his own ego and those who feed that ego.
What the world saw was fomented by a political party that refused to stand up to a man and failed to stop his impulses because they were afraid of a mean tweet.
What the world saw was cultivated by someone who failed to live up to his oath of office, to “faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
What the world saw was the result of someone who energized a section of society that has become nothing but a cult.
What the world saw was exacerbated by cult members who have been brainwashed by their leader.
What the world saw was an insurrection and attempted coup d’état by cult members egged on by that same cult leader.
Over the last four years, I have posted on social media the dangers of this deranged cult leader.
Over the last four years, I have protested against this unhinged cult leader.
Over the past four years, I have argued against this unbalanced cult leader.
But with all that, here we are with just a few days left of this administration, and I’m more worried than I was before the Capitol storming.
I have always been worried about this administration’s last days and what he might try to do. I would never have thought this delusional cult leader would have resulted in a mob storming the Capitol as Congress was in session, doing the work for the people of the U.S.
At least Richard Nixon didn’t encourage his supporters to storm the Capitol during the Watergate hearings.
It reminded me of watching the storming of the oligarch palace in Ukraine a few years ago, the election of Volodymyr Zelensky as the president, then Trump tried to extort him in a phone call that got him impeached.
What happened in that impeachment? The Republicans didn’t want to hear any evidence of his extortion. They didn’t want to hear from witnesses who knew what happened. In the end, the Senate Republicans sat back and told their cult leader that whatever he does is OK with them. One even said that Trump must have learned “a pretty big lesson” from the impeachment.
Had the Republicans acted in February 2020 to remove this cult leader, over 350,000 Americans would not have died because he horribly failed at handling a pandemic that everyone knew would eventually happen. Had the Republicans acted last year, the economy would not be in ruins or thousands of Americans out of work because of the pandemic.
So, where do we go from here? There will be numerous “after-action reports” covering everything from why there were not enough law enforcement on Capitol Hill to why was the federal government so impotent in responding to a worldwide pandemic. Not to mention all the corruption that took place in the administration over the last four years.
It seems four years ago I was so right when I said that to Gerri Sweeney. Trump did make Watergate look like a cakewalk. He did his best to destroy this country through treason, sedition and perfidy.
Trump and his cult are a malignant cancer on society that must be addressed. I don’t have the answers. But what I do know is that a narcissistic egomaniac with delusions of godhood does not belong in the White House.
I hope we learned our lesson.
Becky Osterwald is a journalist who owned the Eastern Colorado Plainsman newspaper in Hugo for 18 years and more recently worked as managing editor for The Villager in Greenwood Village and Valley Courier in Alamosa.
UPDATE: This essay was revised at 1:29 p.m. on Jan. 15 to correct a misspelling.
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