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Few events of the last three years seem more ominous than last week’s attempt by 30 Republican congressmen to force their way into a closed hearing before the several House committees taking testimony in connection with the impeachment inquiry.

“Force” is probably not the right word. Some reports say that the congressmen “stormed” the hearing room, and the House Sergeant at Arms was called.

But there was no apparent pushing or shoving. The hearing was held up for five hours, but eventually the Republicans settled for public statements, in which, one by one, they chastised the Democrats for conducting a clandestine investigation without due process.

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John Crisp | Tribune News Service

The House Minority Whip, Steve Scalise, surrounded by stern-faced colleagues, characterized the hearing as a secret “Soviet-style scam,” carried out “behind closed doors.”

The congressmen’s melodramatic complaints are easily exposed for their hollowness and bald-faced hypocrisy. There’s nothing unusual or nefarious about closed-door congressional hearings, and there are, indeed, sound reasons for keeping testimony private at this stage of any investigation.

The legitimacy of the congressmen’s efforts to crash the hearing is further undercut by the fact that some 45 Republicans — about 25% of all Republicans in the House — were already authorized to attend the hearing, including some of the ones who were attempting to “storm” the event.

So the Republicans’ justifications for pushing their way into the hearing room shouldn’t be particularly convincing to a fair-minded observer.

In fact, the event could easily be dismissed as a soon-forgotten publicity stunt meant merely to distract us from the extraordinary testimony of public servants that is coming to light in this investigation.

But it’s the sheer physicality of the event that makes me uneasy. It’s not hard to imagine that this incident could have turned into a pushing and shoving match. Blows might have been launched and landed. Lips might have been busted and eyes blackened.

Certainly our politics has taken an ugly turn with its hyper-partisanship, misrepresentation and name-calling.

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But once we abandon discussion, argument, discourse and attempts at rules-based reconciliation, once we cross the line into physical confrontation, what has become of our republic?

Of course it would hardly have been the first time that our elected representatives have come to blows.

The most famous incident of physical violence in Congress occurred on May 22, 1856, when Rep. Preston Brooks of South Carolina used a cane to beat Sen. Charles Sumner of Massachusetts into unconsciousness on the Senate floor over Sumner’s anti-slavery activism. Sumner survived, but five years later, the Civil War began.

Some elements of our society talk almost longingly about the prospect of a second civil war. Mostly this talk can be dismissed as the fantasies of an insecure, disgruntled fringe.

But last week a Major League Baseball umpire — a profession that calls for judgment and deliberation — tweeted: “I will be buying an AR-15 tomorrow, because if you impeach MY PRESIDENT this way, YOU WILL HAVE ANOTHER CIVAL (sic) WAR!!!”

The umpire subsequently apologized, but he admits that he cannot “unsay those words.”

Nor can he easily extinguish the close-to-the-surface emotions that prompted them. Indeed, President Donald Trump himself has been willing to tweet casually about “a Civil War like fracture” if he is removed from office via impeachment.

This is why nudging up next to the line that separates us from physical violence — as the 30 Republicans did in the capitol last week — is so dangerous.

It is impossible to imagine that Trump will graciously relinquish the White House, whether after impeachment or a defeat at the polls.

He will claim victimhood in language that his most devoted followers will hear clearly. The extent to which this sort of language stokes the passions of the many angry men in our country with guns is not clear.

It is dangerous to blithely assume that some version of a second civil war is impossible. So is the idea that the Trump era will end quietly and without bloodshed. Republicans, please be careful. Once things get physical, we are in perilous territory.

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John M. Crisp, an op-ed columnist for Tribune News Service, lives in Georgetown, Texas, and can be reached at jcrispcolumns@gmail.com.

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(35) comments

martian2

the modern conservative has become a person who is searching for morally superior reasoning to justify selfishness, hate, injustice, prejudice and divisiveness. All things that are hazardous to a society.

Jobaba

Not gonna be much of a civil war since Obama took everybody's guns away.

We should remember that Americans are much closer on most issues than divided. Of course Trump is a sharp dividing line because he rules for a smaller group of Americans and ignores or insults the rest.

If there is violence I think it will be small and sporadic as the few undereducated and fringe loonies are the only ones that do not understand peaceful transition of power.

Think Pizzagate rather than Civil War.

capedcrusader

And we can certainly make room in our prisons for those people.

johnnybragatti

There will be a civil war, no question. Any God fearing Trump-Humper will tell you that.

Even the deebag will tell you that. Of course he is a bonafide and certified liar, so don"t count on much. Simply read any of his posts and ya"ll can figure it out.

oldhomey

I share Mr. Crisp's unease. However all of this ends, Trump ousted by impeachment, Trump surviving impeachment but losing the election, Trump surviving the impeachment and winning re election, the divisions caused by his cult-like following and followers like D will drag our country into directions that are going to take decades to mend. They wanted t blow up DC, they did, and now we all will pay for for generations. And, yes, in worst case scenarios, if Trump is put out of office, it may become violent. God forbid, but those are the demons he and his followers are stirring up.

DMoney

There won't be any civil war, there won't be any violence on Capitol Hill. Fear mongering.

martian2

Trump is the one who brought up civil war. He won't leave quietly, he will have a hissy fit till the day he dies.

DMoney

So?

martian2

So? A smooth transition of power is not important to you D? You think its just fine for someone to trash the office of the president, and to embarrass this country in the eyes of the world? How you rationalize such behavior is beyond me. You wouldn't let your kids get away with that type of behavior, so why the president? Is it because your idol is very rich? Or do you endear his flawed personality because it is such a close match to yours?

DMoney

No, it's not. It's fodder for the media to generate ratings. One day there's one president--the next day there's another. If you choose not to listen to talking heads or read twitter, you wouldn't even know the difference.

Again--you claim Trump has "embarrassed this country in the eyes of the world". Please state factually, what has resulted from such embarrassment? Have we lost any allies? Have we started any new wars? Has the economy crumbled? Have we lost any trade partners? Are countries threatening us? A grandiose statement like this ought to be backed up by grandiose results. Otherwise it's as empty and hollow as the person saying it.

martian2

I said Trump was an embarrassment in the eyes of the world. That statement is factually true. I didn't say anything about new wars etc. It is a fact this country's leader is looked down upon in most countries, especially Europe, a source of our most trusted allies. " A Pew report found that Trump and his key policies are “broadly unpopular around the globe.” So in response, ratings for the U.S. have steeply declined in many countries. In fact, among the 37 nations included in the study, Trump got higher marks than Obama in only two countries: Russia and Israel. And in more than half of the nations surveyed, positive views of the U.S. as a country experienced double-digit drops after Trump assumed office." You may think this is no big deal, we shouldn't care what others think, just let trump beat his chest and thumb his nose at the world. In a civil world it does matter, it is important, and we shouldn't ignore it. Want more factual evidence of what I said. Happy to provide it. https://www.cheatsheet.com/culture/countries-that-hate-donald-trump.html/

martian2

so a smooth transition of power is just fodder for the media??? So what you are saying is the media shouldn't even cover it, its not that important or news worthy. Gosh your idea of what is news worthy is totally bizarre. This is so bizarre I am speechless. and that doesn't happen very often. The transition of the most powerful office in the world is just fodder, something the people aren't interested in and don't have to see. Wow!

oldhomey

D, you shrug off Trump hinting that he will not go quietly into the night, that there could be a violent reaction to his departure, and you shrug it off with "So?" My God! You will endure anything for this man. We are not all fanatics, however. We will endure as a nation, but it is going to cost us plenty to get past the Trump fanaticism.

DMoney

"..Trump was an embarrassment in the eyes of the world". You claim that's "factually true". Do you know what "fact" means? Honestly. It's impossible to "factually" say that unless you had a world-wide poll of all the world's leaders and it was posed as a question. Even then--even if the majority said yes--who cares? If it results in no trade partners lost, no allies lost, no new wars, no new enemies, no negative effect on American citizens or businesses--who really gives a rat's azz? A thing with no practical purpose, function or reason does not matter and is worth nothing.

PhysicsIsFun

Do not waste your time debating Dball. He only lives to debate with you and ignore the obvious. If he cared about facts or logic or fairness he would not be a Trump supporter. His points are as absurd as Trump's. Hopefully he and his like will see the light when Trump is shown the door. Republicans need to reevaluate their philosophy. Right now they are becoming disgusting at all levels.

capedcrusader

If he doesn't go away he will be arrested.

DMoney

"Go away" as in stage a sit-in at the white house and refuse to physically move when the next president comes in? You really think that's a possibility? Or do you mean "go away" as in not say anything, not tweet, not make any statements? He will probably not "go away" in that aspect--and there's zero chance he'll be arrested for it as each individual has a right to the freedom of expression.

capedcrusader

DMoney - if another President is duly elected and he refuses to "go away" peacefully and allow the normal transfer of leadership he will be arrested. Of course he will spout off as usual - he can't help himself. I think you know what I meant. How about finally answering me for the comment you made about "overpay for work performed". You have ducked the question for several weeks now even after the GM settlement.

DMoney

No, I honestly didn't know what you were referring to. I think it's funny that you would actually consider Trump not physically leaving the white house. If you believe that, even the tiniest portion of it, you are lost.

Remind me again about the comment you want an explanation for? I honestly can't recall. I remember commenting about how UAW workers are generally grossly overpaid, to the point where it makes GM/Ford unsustainable and crippled due to the amount of wages/benefits they are forced to unnaturally provide. That?

martian2

I wouldn't put it past Trump to call for a civil war if he is not reelected for whatever reason. And we can see clearly that some of his supporters are ready to take up arms for his name sake. Violence is a tool of the far right, the white nationalists and various fascist groups. The far left will react with violence if confronted with it from the Trump crowd. There is nothing in Trump's character that suggest he would be civil and peacefully leave office. He will lash out and tweet a hate storm only satan himself could match.

DMoney

He'll blame the corruptness of the deep state, the media. He'll do this in interviews and on social media. His followers will agree. He'll then do a reality TV show and write a book and give paid speeches and open more resorts, and people will start complaining or defending the new POTUS and that will be the end of it. Like has always happened in modern history. What won't happen will be the revelation that the former POTUS is extremely wealthy and living a hypocritical life like Obama, Clinton, etc. Obama and his gated, fenced fortress. Bill and Hillary and their millions for private speeches to wall st. firms.

martian2

yes living in the lap of luxury and showing it off to the rest of the country is very becoming, very mature. It must be something you drool for as you totally admire the out of control ego that is Trump. Don't know how Obama and Clinton are hypocrites for living in expensive homes and not showing it off like a school yard kid who just found a dime on the play ground. But I'm sure you'll come up with an answer, silly as it may be.

DMoney

Very telling response. So you just confirmed you'd rather have a politician be hypocritical, preach social programs, "defend" the poor--but then be completely filthy rich in secret and live OPPOSITE of what they campaigned on rather than someone be honest, transparent and direct about being rich. You prefer to be hoodwinked. Got it.

PhysicsIsFun

I am so envious of Trump's golden toilets. The guy has worse taste than Liberace did.

oldhomey

Tell me, D, how do you think the Obamas should live now that his presidency is in the past tense? Should he and his wife just get a house in the suburbs where he can be found mowing his lawn on Saturday and she can be found Friday afternoon getting her hair done in the local salon before she and Barrack go out to meet friends at the Olive Garden and then off to the Cineplex? Should they in embarrassment of seeing their books become bestsellers just because they lived in the White House send the money the money to charities? Should they politely decline continued Secret Service protection and answer their own front door, because, after all, who would want to hurt them? I mean, why should they live like millionaires? What did THEY do for their money? It's not like they inherited their fortune, like that splendid figure of a man who succeeded the the Obama presidency. He is, by God, no hypocrite like THOSE two! He got his money fair and square. From his daddy.

martian2

according to D, only republicans deserve expensive housing and lots of money. Democrats aren't suppose to have those things because they would be hypocrites if they do. Trying to wrap my head around such thinking and I come up with nothing. D and his total loyalty to Trump, which he denies, certainly has twisted his thinking.

DMoney

Absolutely! They should live IDENTICALLY to what they have preached and what got them to where they are. Anything else is being a hypocrite. They should voluntarily donate the majority of their wealth. They should have the same quality of healthcare that they promoted. They should NOT have a fence with a gate. They should practice what they preached--and ohhhhh did Obama love to preach. Trump turned millions into billions--and he did that without Daddy's help. And he did hide it or try and brush it off.

DMoney

If a Democrat becomes filthy rich and spends their career antagonizing those who are rich and the methods and markets which allowed them to become rich--they are definitive hypocrites. I'm not saying they shouldn't try to become rich, or that I would do anything differently. But call a spade a spade. It's very funny (not really) how socialism is always for the people--never the socialist.

martian2

gosh D got me there. He thinks all liberals preach against wealth and accumulating money. Not sure where he gets that but whatever. It is possible for a rich liberal and a rich conservative to develop empathy for others that are less fortunate than they. Wanting a higher tax on the very wealthy is not socialistic or hypocritical. It is a way for the very wealthy to pay their fair share of this country's infrastructure and defenses that they reap huge benefits from. Nothing hypocritical about that. You swallow the whole fox news/GOP lie that only they are the only ones to promote wealth and success. And we need to pander to the very richest lest their money leaves the country. What a laugh, the only reason they pander to the richest is so they can get big campaign contributions from them or lobby for them when they leave politics. Talk about hypocritical. What a pathetic bunch of liars.

capedcrusader

You keep trolling with old info you get from who knows where. I'm guessing FOX snooze, Limbaugh or Jones. Or all three. Making money off of speeches is not a crime. Reagan was the first to get a million dollars from one speech in Japan no less. Jimmy Carter for the most part refused to do it or has given the proceeds away for the most part. You want to talk about extrememly welthy hypocritical lives? Where do you think the Bush crime family got the money to buy all that land in Paraguay? Not long after billions of dollars went missing during the Iraq war. No, Trump is already living the life of the very thing you are railing about from other Presidents. You want to talk hypocrisy? Look no further than Trump. The Russian banks own him.

martian2

touche! D won't touch that with a ten foot pole! Cape strikes again!

DMoney

Proof, please. Those statements without proof aren't worth the time you spent typing them. Of course, you won't provide anything. And if you do, it will be some speculative opinion column. I need proof that Russian banks own Trump. I need proof the Bush family personally profited from Iraq war/Gulf war.

DMoney

Martian, your tenancy to bite hook, line and sinker for any unverified/unproven claims that fellow liberals write does not bode well or give credence to your ability to tell fact from fiction. I'm beginning to wonder if you honestly know what fact means. Here you go: "a thing that is known or proved to be true." True means: "real or actual." Both taken from merriam-webster.

PhysicsIsFun

Dball your insistence that the dictionary is some sort of last word on any dispute is pretty hilarious. Did you learn that in middle school? Those of us who pursued education beyond 7th grade realize it is a bit more complex. In science we have facts, which are objective phenomenon which are often measurable. The more basic the science the more measurable the observation might be. There are more measurable phenomenon in physics and chemistry than in biology. The most important thing in science is a theory. Which is a educated guess based on observable date. That theory is accepted as long as no contradictory evidence is collected. If that occurs the theory is either thrown out or modified. It is impossible to prove a theory correct. You can only prove it incorrect. Now with Trump we do not have a simple basic easily measurable phenomenon. We have a complex living thing. The observations which have been collected have been many, and experienced people have come to conclusions that are supported by the data. More substantiated data is collected everyday. The conclusion is that Trump is a severely damaged individual. He demonstrates all the characteristics of a sociopath. He has no empathy, is unable to think abstractly, only considers himself, and is a danger to our nation. You, and others like you, just refuse to accept that reality. You try to act as if you are the reasonable one and all others are just blinded by hate. Nothing could be further from the truth. You are dogmatic in your support. Trump and his supporters are a danger. Reading your comments is to observe an exercise in utter idiocy

PhysicsIsFun

Trump is terribly unhealthy. I am near his age. If I was in the shape he is in I would be really worried. He is not long for this earth.

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