On May 19, 2019, Saturday Night Live opened its show with a Meet the Press skit featuring cast members impersonating moderator Chuck Todd and panelists Mitch McConnell, Susan Collins of Maine and Lindsey Graham.¹ The question it explored: What could President Trump do to lose your support? Like most SNL skits, it began with benign possibilities and quickly became progressively profane and increasingly vile. (Kate McKinnon’s response as Lindsey Graham to ‘What if President Trump open-hand slaps you in the face?’ may be its best line.) At the close of the skit, Trump could do nothing to undermine the support of these three senators. Indeed, they would support anything he did, no matter how repugnant, anti-Republican, anti-American or obscene. Prescient, to be sure.
In real life, apparently, not even ‘incitement of insurrection’ against the United States, as the president was impeached for last week, could threaten the support of the vast majority of Republicans in the House of Representatives. As we saw, a mere 10 House Republicans, led by Liz Cheney of Wyoming, voted for impeachment.² There was talk of 10 being a large number, evidence of a dramatic, historic and universe-shifting chasm forming in the Republican party. That was hardly the case, largely because 201 House Republicans voted to support the president by opposing impeachment.³ They did so despite the president taking absolutely no responsibility for his actions, expressing no contrition or sympathy, and, instead, claiming that his speech was “perfect” and that “everyone is saying so.” Having the support of “everyone” is sufficient validation for him, I suppose. It has worked before and the betting here suggests it will work yet again. Because his support among Republicans in the Senate, where the case will be tried, is near-unanimous.
According to the FBI, there are credible threats of violence planned for capitol buildings in every state and in Washington, D.C. in the days leading up to and including Wednesday’s inauguration. At this very moment, armed members of the National Guard are protecting the national Capitol. That last sentence bears repeating. The National Guard is stationed in and around the Capitol and throughout Washington because there is a credible threat that the building and the city will be attacked by armed Americans. There are plans for upwards of 21,000 National Guard to be in Washington to protect the incoming president during the inauguration. The inner city has been shut down. Monuments are being protected. Subway stations are closed, streets blockaded. Airbnb has cancelled all reservations in the Washington area. Visitors are being urged to stay away. Airlines are banning alcohol on flights into D.C. airports. It is a scene out of a movie, one in which an attack on the United States government is imminent. Sadly, this is no movie. This is real life.
The current president of the United States and at least 153 Senate and House Republicans who proclaimed repeatedly that the election was ‘stolen’ are directly responsible. Fox News and other right wing media are also to blame. Of the 153, has even one senator, one member of the House, or one nighttime Fox News host admitted publicly that he or she was wrong? Has even one apologized for perpetuating a dangerous lie? Has one acknowledged Biden’s win? We are told that they should know better, that they are educated and that some are people of faith. Like any of that matters. We know them for what they are: liars and traitors.
This is surreal. This is embarrassing. This is repugnant.
In the meantime, the Republicans continue to call for unity. They claim it is too close to the end of the president’s reign to hold him accountable. They say that impeachment will divide the country. They blame the media, the Democrats, the Radical Left, Twitter and Facebook for the fix we are in. They will blame anyone, anyone except the people who promoted the lie that the election was rigged. They will clearly say and do anything to defend the president, even stand up and repeat The Big Lie, even as it threatens to take down the country.⁴ They will do anything but the right thing. Just like SNL predicted in May 2019.
The difference: the SNL skit did not lead to the storming of the Capitol, insurrection or death. It did not lead to 19 states calling up the National Guard to protect their capitol. It did not lead to the extraordinary precautions that have been implemented to safeguard the lives of the president- and vice president-elect and the inauguration, a symbol of our democracy and the peaceful transition of power, a hallmark of our country. The Big Lie — and everyone who tells it — has. The lie and all who perpetuate it need to go.
Welcome to the New America, a country being ripped apart at the seams.
³ To be fair, some members of the House have received anonymous threats to themselves and their families if they chose to support impeachment. This is the America in which we currently live.