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Herald editorial: Trump, riot diminish our Union

By Daily Herald Editorial Board - | Jan 9, 2021

Watching hordes of rioters violently force their way into the halls of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday was deeply disturbing. We condemn this assault on key principles of our republic and the years of lies and falsehoods originating from President Donald Trump that built the fire leading to the conflagration in Washington.

As the Trump Administration winds down, we sometimes think about how childhood folktales or fables might apply to our modern times. “The Emperor’s New Clothes” has some appeal.

However, the fable we keep coming back to is “The Boy Who Cried Wolf,” where a boy lies repeatedly to villagers that the town’s flock of sheep is being attacked by a wolf. Eventually, the villagers don’t believe the boy when a wolf actually does attack the flock and the sheep are destroyed.

Unfortunately, in this modern retelling of the fable, about half of the village still believes the boy’s lies about the wolf even though the boy — Trump — has lied around 25,000 times since he was first nominated for president. Tragically, it could be argued the president’s self-interested falsehoods have weakened our ability to effectively counter actual threats, including a deadly plague that has claimed the lives of at least 366,664 Americans and sickened 21 million more.

Many of Trump’s lies center around elections. Even though much of the current fervor is centered on Trump’s verified defeat in November to incoming President Joe Biden, his electoral lies and falsehoods date back to 2016 when Trump accused Sen. Ted Cruz of fraud in the Iowa caucuses.

Fast-forward to 2020, the Boy Who Cried Wolf set the stage for Wednesday’s insurrection by stating repeatedly for months ahead of November that the election would somehow be rigged against him. Throughout this entire process, there has been no proof of widespread fraud.

After losing the November election, Trump and his supporters seemingly grasped at any straw to subvert the will of the people. Dozens of lawsuits were filed in attempts to disqualify the votes of hundreds of thousands of Americans without any substantial proof that those ballots were cast illegitimately.

When that failed, the Boy Who Cried Wolf and others continued their assault on our democracy by desperately trying to find anyone in power willing to shamelessly and baselessly give Trump a second term and render our republic meaningless.

This culminated Wednesday when some supporters of the Boy Who Cried Wolf crashed against the bulwark of American ideals that we most hold dear — including the centuries-long practice of a peaceful transition of power between administrations. While it’s not certain what pro-Trump supporters sought to accomplish by storming the Capitol, one theory is that they wanted to pressure Congress to reject the legitimate Electoral College counts from key states and their voters, and somehow give Trump a second term.

Although our Union stands, it is forevermore tarnished by the vanity of a man unwilling to accept the fact that he lost.

There needs to be a reckoning for everyone who had a role in Wednesday’s travesty, including the president, the rioters, the sycophants and those that enabled this undemocratic farce.

This mob was fostered and encouraged by Trump, in the weeks leading up to Wednesday and at a rally that morning. We can’t say if any laws were broken, but the president encouraged his supporters to go to the Capitol and said, “You have to show strength and you have to be strong.” There are many ways to define strength, but it’s clear that at least some of Trump’s supporters equate it with violence.

Trump’s enablers in the Republican Party and the conservative world also need to be called out. One huge reason why half the village still inexplicably believes the Boy Who Cried Wolf are the sycophants who parrot Trump’s falsehoods for their own gain. Trump’s lies, amplified by his cronies, have so distorted reality for his believers that it seems the president could insist that the sun rose in the West and a sizable majority would believe him.

Some Republicans argue that their challenges of vote tallies in states that swung to Biden are in response to doubts about voter fraud and allegations of electoral theft. It’s a disingenuous argument because Trump fostered those doubts upon a hollow shell of lies. It would be as if the villagers formed a wolf task force because of the boy’s repeated cries of wolf.

We wish there were more senators with the backbone of Utah’s Mitt Romney. He has not been afraid to call out Trump. On Wednesday, Romney asserted that those challenging the Electoral College count would be seen as “being complicit in an unprecedented attack against our democracy, fairly or not.” He also said the best way to show voters respect is to tell them the truth.

We recognize that some people may have voted for Trump thinking that he was doing some good. Whatever good Trump might have done pales in comparison with his constant efforts to undermine our democracy to further his own self-interest.

After four years of Trump and his lies, this nation stands at a crossroads. We can either recommit ourselves to the principles that have shored up this Union for over 200 years or we can plunge into chaos by continuing to support the whims of a morally bankrupt man who places self before country.

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