There's wonderful lyric from the culture wars of the 1960s that told us “the revolution will not be televised.” Of course the revolution will be televised. The two were made for each other.
When “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” was playing on the radio, we didn't yet have 24-hour news stations and live coverage of events as they happened was rare. As the technology has advanced, so has the appetite for immediacy. The revolution in Myanmar may not get televised, but drop one on Washington or Moscow, and you can bet there'll be a thousand cameras, most of them cellphones.
Watching the storming of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, I didn't think I was watching a revolution, or even a coup. I knew I was watching a fiasco. It was a fiasco for Donald Trump, who had carelessly fanned the flames of rebellion. It was a fiasco for the Republican party, that even while condemning the violence, will forever be tarred by it. It was a fiasco for the radical fringe of the MAGA movement. Did you really think you could beat a cop on live stream and get away with it? Where did you get an idea like that? Maybe from watching last summer's BLM riots.
Last week we had a different spectacle. Having impeached Donald Trump for a second time, the U.S. House of Representatives brought their latest case against him to the Senate. The single charge was not that he was derelict in his duty during the riots. Charging him with dereliction along with a recommendation for censure, rather than the constitutionally questionable measure of impeaching a former president, meets all the managers’ stated goals. That charge would have united both parties in agreement. It would have passed easily. It would have united the country, and buried Donald Trump's hopes for further influence. That would be great for the GOP because he's toxic. Instead they charged him with inciting a riot. Incitement to riot means something in our legal code. The Supreme Court has defined it. At no time during Trump's lengthy White House Ellipse speech did he specifically call for storming the Capitol, or exhort his audience to take hold of Senators, Congressmen, or the Vice President. Reading into the speech any sort of implied threats of that kind is possible. After all, that's what most of the people who broke into the Capitol themselves believed, but you won't find it in Trump's language, whatever you think he was intending.
So, the House chose an impossible task, which is why they failed to get a conviction. Maybe that was their real intention. Maybe they wanted to fail because their real aim was to create a bludgeon to smash Republicans in Congress with. Let's see how Senators and congressmen who voted against the impeachment article do in future elections. You can bet their Democratic opponents will make that vote the major issue of their campaigns. Let's see how well Republicans who voted for conviction do in their primaries. Will strong incumbent candidates manage to beat back weaker upstarts?
And while I'm dabbling in conspiracy theories: what's up with turning our Capitol into an armed camp? I can see how initially bringing in thousands of troops was a good idea. Rebellion had just broken out and we all watched something on television that was unimaginable. Capitol police were overwhelmed, beaten and sprayed with their own weapons, people were trampled and overcome with aerosol irritants, heart attacks, even a bullet in one case. The mayhem went on for hours while our elected officials and their staffs huddled in their barricaded offices. No one wants anything like that happening ever again. But surely that danger has passed. It was plotted and planned by ragtag groups like the Proud Boys, and the Oath Keepers. These small, marginal groups and individuals are being arrested and held for trial, or are on the run. Their foolish, destructive, and incoherent violent spasm presaged their doom, and not their ascension. So why this outsized response? Who benefits from that? Not the National Guardsmen themselves. Not the taxpayer underwriting this military occupation of our Capitol. The cost for it, so far, amounts to hundreds of millions of dollars, and it's expected to last until at least October. This is shear madness, even crazier than the rebellion that sparked it, and that was pretty crazy.
That's a darn good conspiracy theory I have there. All it lacks is a theory. I honestly have no idea why 7,000 troops are occupying the District of Columbia behind walls and fences and miles of concertina wire. Doesn't anyone else find this strange, and a little ominous? Maybe the part that bothers me most is the silence. Who thinks this isn't a subject worth mentioning?
Perhaps when the revolution really occurs it won't be televised after all. You'll know it's arrived by the silence.