Charlatan Magazine

Capitol Seige & Coups

JANUARY 11, 2021

Congress certifies Joe Biden, Georgia confirms democracy, and Donald Trump concedes following a historic coup at the U.S. Capitol.



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Two Senate runoffs in Georgia last week has given the democratic party full control of the United States Senate. The Rev. Raphael Warnock beat Senator Kelly Loeffler by 2 percentage points, and 33-year older challenger Jon Ossoff defeated the incumbent David Perdue. The National Journal notes “Perdue ran well ahead of Ossoff in the election’s first round two months ago,” suggesting that the last 60 days of vitriolic messaging about voter fraud ultimately dismantled the Republican turnout.

Ironically, it was the former capitol of the US Confederacy that would turn the political tide. The first black man in Georgia’s history, and a 33-year old son of Jewish immigrants, are not only the new senators in the State of Georgia, but together turned the sail of the United States Senate toward democracy.

Their victories will give Democrats full control of the White House and both houses of Congress for the first time in 10 years, and their majority on Capitol Hill will enable a Biden Administration to enact a boldly progressive agenda in his first 100 days including; an aggressive COVID-19 Task Force, reversing Trumps corporate tax cuts, reentering environmental agreements, welcome 11 millions DREAMers, enforce DACA, reuniting families separated at US borders, strengthening police reform, healthcare, education, and relationships with foreign leaders. Moreover, Biden's proposed "Made in America" plan will pour $400 billion into domestic manufacturing, and an additional $300 billion into research and development, in what is being compared to an infrastructure initiative similar to FDR’s New Deal.

Congress 'Receives' State’s Electoral Votes

The United States Congress is commissioned by the 12th Amendment to “receive and open sealed certificates from the U.S. states electoral voters.” It is not authorized to certify them. The people of the United States elect their president — not courts, judges, or congress. While the United States Vice President is commissioned to “receive and open sealed certificates,” both receiving and opening those ballots is a purely ceremonial.

The states historically had to hand carry their certified electoral ballots — before the advent of the telephone, telegraph or television — to the United States Capitol where’d they’d be received and opened by the Vice President and presented to Congress. Therein, Members of Congress could object to those votes, granting them 2 hours to debate and then a vote. However, those votes were procedural in nature and designed to ensure that the electoral process itself, by which the votes were cast, was fair and lawful. While these proceedings are typically brief and ceremonial, this year’s proceedings ended with the 2021 Storming of the United States Capitol; a final coup and path to victory for President Donald J. Trump.

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The Act of Insurrection

The Insurrection Act of 1807 is a federal law that empowers the President of the United States to deploy the U.S. military on United States civilians to suppress rebellion, insurrection, and civil disorder. It has been invoked several times in US history including; Civil War (Lincoln), School Desegregation (Eisenhower, Kennedy), Rodney King Riots (George H.W. Bush), and Hurricane Katrina (George W. Bush). But the origins of the Insurrection Act date back more than 200 years to a bizarre chapter in American history—when Aaron Burr plotted to raise an army and establish his own dynasty.

There was growing concern on Capitol Hill that President Donald Trump was posturing to declare an “Act of Insurrection” in the final days of his presidency. Regarding the Black Lives Matter protests Donald Trump explained, "If a city or state refuses to take the actions that are necessary to defend the life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them.” However, the Insurrection Act itself is far more reaching. It reads in part:

Whenever the President considers that unlawful obstructions, combinations, assemblages or rebellion make it impracticable to enforce laws by ordinary judicial proceedings, he may call the armed forces, as he considers necessary, to enforce Marshall law upon the people.

Unleashing a military on its own people is a function of fascism and dictatorship, and an imponderable power for a reality TV star with zero practical governing experience. And every former U.S. Secretary of Defense knew it. In fact, all 10 former Secretaries of Defense joined together in an article for the Washington Post last week to affirm “The election results were definitive. We caution the military not to get involved in Trump’s effort to overturn this election or invoke Marshall law.”

When President Donald Trump presented an ultimatum to Georgia’s Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger last week to — find votes in the state, reverse his loss, overturn the people’s votes and hand him a win — he was no longer governing a democracy. “I just want to find 11,780 votes” Trump said, in a one-hour phone call to the Secretary of State that legal scholars at the Brookings Institute described as “a flagrant abuse of power.” Though Raffensperger rebuffed Trump’s demands, the president’s suggestion — that Georgia officials could be prosecuted if they did not do his bidding — violates federal election interference laws and is a criminal felony. Moreover, it is by definition an act of treason.

While the courts, secretaries of state, and Vice President all let him down, there was only one remaining path to victory— a military coup. A simple rally, not unlike any other over the past 5 years, was scheduled to unfold at the White House on January 6, and was coordinated to conclude at the precise moment the U.S. Congress was scheduled to meet to receive the state’s certified votes.

Many came as concerned citizens, peaceful protestors, conscionable objectors. Others as extremists, white supremacists, and political terrorists. Whatever their countenance, they crossed the plains and purple mountains majesty as patriots. They believed there was an existential threat to America.

When the rally concluded, and the crowd meandered over to Capitol Hill, few of us watching from the comforts of home could understand. We hadn’t heard Trump encourage his supporters, "And after this, we're going to walk down there, and I'll be there with you, we're going to walk down to the Capitol. We’re going to fight like hell to take back our country.” We didn’t believe it when he said, "We will never give up. We will never concede.” And we most certainly were not listening when he said, "This is a trail by combat. You're the real people. It is now up to Congress and YOU to confront this egregious assault on our democracy. This is war."

It was the ensuing riot, in particular, upon which Donald Trump hung his hat and hoped to declare Marshall Law. Had the District of Columbia failed to manage the violence, Donald Trump could have invoked a constitutional power called the “Act of Insurrection:” granting him unprecedented military power over the people. With the largest military in the world behind him, he’d have the power to order a second election, enter our homes, escort us to polling stations, bypass the states oversight, and declare himself the winner with unlimited terms limits. Despite having bussed the protestors into the nation’s capital on his own dime — Trump’s PAC “Save America” provided the busses, box lunches, bottled waters and banners — the institutions of democracy held. The DC Metro and Capitol Police, assisted by the National Guard, were able to hold and defend the United States Capitol. Trump failed, in the final hours of his presidency, to obstruct the Chapel of Democracy.

As the 46th President of the United States, and the first African American woman to ascend the Vice Presidency, each prepare to take the oath of office next week, they’d be wise to remember us all in that prayer. “Choose Your Color,” a popular beauty technique in the 1980’s, encouraged women to choose which of the four season’s colors looked best on her. It was a definitive guide instructing woman how to dress and present themselves in society, and was driven by the beauty and apparel industries over the next decade. It belies, of course, that her complexion would change throughout the seasons, and over the course of her lifetime, and that she’d have to learn to live and present herself in them all.

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Congress certifies Joe Biden, Georgia confirms democracy, and Donald Trump concedes following a historic coup at the U.S. Capitol.
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