Censure, yes, censor no

Hard to believe that by the afternoon after the historic win of not one, but two U.S. Senate seats, shifting the Senate majority from Republican to a tie with the Democratic Party, and moving a historically GOP state (of nearly 20 years), clearly into battleground territory had already moved to the nation’s B-sections.

 Those wins were Trumped, pun intended, by another of this president’s latest and greatest self-inflicted wounds. While exhorting several thousand supporters at the White House on an intentional but ill-timed day—Jan. 6, 2021—the president again waxed nostalgic about his reelection victory being stolen, and then advocated that his supporters “never give up,” “stay strong,” “fight harder” and then to walk and march along Pennsylvania Avenue to the halls of Congress to let their voices be heard. 

 More has been written elsewhere and will be about the resulting five lives lost – four Trump supporters and one Capitol Police officer. All of their blood is on this president’s hands, and of the risk of loss of not only all of the electoral ballots, but the historic cases and valises in which they arrived at the Capitol. All whisked off the floor of the House Chamber by primarily young female staffers, who quickly assessed both the risk and the target of the protestors’ ire.

 We are now in the wake of this riot and attack on our Capitol and Congress. The question is what should be done about that? As of Jan. 11, there were seven working business days left in the Trump presidency. Impeachment articles were drafted but the officeholder being impeached also gets an opportunity to respond. Though clearly, House leadership wants to brand Trump the only president in U.S. history to be impeached twice, there is insufficient time for a Senate trial, nor any indication that two-thirds of the Senate would vote to convict.

 Much discussion surrounds invoking the 25th Amendment, and again some challenging obstacles. It is the president who calls cabinet meetings, and it would be the vice president needing to garner support and signatures from half of the president’s cabinet, stating that the president is incapacitated and allowing the vice president to assume his duties and responsibilities. In addition to two more cabinet secretaries resigning since Jan. 6, the Trump cabinet is already half-filled with interim and acting appointees never confirmed by the U.S. Senate, and as such missing a vote in this process. The president is allowed the opportunity to respond, and another Congressional majority is required by each chamber to confirm the transfer of power, and the president is not actually removed from office.

 The best path is censure, which simply requires a majority vote in either chamber, and formally condemns the actions of a member of Congress, the Judicial branch, or someone in the White House. Congress could enjoin this action with a bipartisan vote of no confidence and simultaneously seek the president’s resignation, as well as his standing down as commander in chief. It is not likely that Trump would comply, but such a request has never been directly made of any U.S. president, and would certainly land in the lead paragraph of his epitaph.

 And while Trump justifiably should stay seated in a virtual “penalty box” until noon on Jan. 20, it is not appropriate nor should it be allowed, for this former president or his supporters to be permanently muzzled or censored. The founders of Parler made some poor business choices in not owning any of the real estate that their platform sat atop, but banning Trump from Facebook, Instagram and Twitter indefinitely actually only helps him.

 Banning or prohibiting conservative, nationalist, or even revolutionary speech will only cause those who might incite worse to move to the dark web, or use block-chain and other methods, even including short-wave radio, to communicate in a less public fashion. Like this president who has to command the news cycle, we are largely arresting those who soiled our Capitol due to their own hands, hubris and social media postings. And frankly, right or left, censorship is simply un-American.

 I first met then-Sen. Joe Biden in 1988 during the first of his failed presidential campaigns. I have never voted for him. And yet, I will more sincerely wish him well and pray for him than any president in my recollection beginning at noon on Jan. 20; for some reason, I have a feeling that he is going to need it. 
God bless the United States of America.
 
Bill Crane also serves as a political analyst and commentator for Channel 2’s Action News, WSB-AM News/Talk 750 and now 95.5 FM, as well as a columnist for The Champion, DeKalb Free Press and Georgia Trend. Crane is a DeKalb native and business owner, living in Scottdale. You can reach him or comment on a column at bill.csicrane@gmail.com. 

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