The date on which this piece is intended for first posting on this website, March 4th, is the date on which- for 140 years, from George Washington's Second Inauguration in 1793 through Franklin Delano Roosevelt's First in 1933- Presidents of the United States, every four years until the 20th Amendment to the United States Constitution first took effect (36 times in all)- took the Oath of Office prescribed in Article II, Section 1, clause 8 of Our Nation's fundamental legal document.
The use of this date was not based on any specific constitutional language but was, rather, an accident of History: for the outgoing Congress of the Confederation that the Federal Government under the then-new Constitution would be replacing took it upon itself- soon after it had learned that at least 9 of the 13 original States of the American Republic had, by mid-1788, ratified that document (thereby putting it into effect, per its own terms)- to set, for the Year 1789, the dates for the first "appointment" of Presidential Electors (the first Wednesday in January); that on which said Electors would then meet separately, within their own States, to cast their respective Electoral Votes for President (the first Wednesday in February); and the earliest date on which the new Federal Government could thereafter begin operations (the first Wednesday in March: as a practical constitutional matter, this was the earliest both houses of Congress could first convene [for only Congress could then count and tabulate said Electoral Vote, and formally declare who had first been elected President, and Vice-President, of the United States- per the original Article II, Section 1, clause 3 of (since superseded by the 12th Amendment to) the Constitution, after which Congress could statutorily fill out other Executive offices and, in addition, provide for the Article III Judiciary, only once a President was by then in place to nominate- pending Senate confirmation- those who would thereafter serve in both the Executive and Judicial branches of this new Federal Government]).
And, as it happened, the first Wednesday in March back in 1789 was March 4th!
There was no constitutional reason for this to have then become the date on which Congress- or, for that matter, the President and Vice-President- might thereafter take office, and their respective Terms of Office thereby begin and end-- for the Constitution itself provided only one date certain as to Federal governance: that first Monday in December which Article I, Section 4, clause 2 declared to be the date on which Congress would be required, unless they shall by law appoint a different day, to annually convene. Theoretically, the First Congress could have simply- and on its own- decided that its 'Quorum' session of April through September 1789, followed by its separate session in 1790 (which the First Congress began that January), might well have been sufficient (after all, it would have already met at least once in every year, as constitutionally required), and thereby the next (Second) Congress could have been elected in time to itself convene on Monday 6 December 1790 (or some other different day thereafter appointed by law)...
but it chose not to, and the First Congress did not adjourn sine die that summer of 1790 (and it would be a third session of that same First Congress which would meet on 6 December 1790); instead it, during its second session (on 28 April 1790), authorized a Joint Committee consisting of members from both chambers to specifically address the question as to when, according to the Constitution, the terms for which the President, Vice President, Senators and Representatives have been respectively chosen, shall be deemed to have commenced?.
This Joint Committee could have, as aforesaid, determined that- rather than dealing with the commencement of their respective Terms of Office- the constitutionally mandated 'date certain' of the first Monday in December was itself controlling as to the ends of said Terms; however, instead relying on the actual calendar date derived from that first set by a body (the old Continental Congress under the by then-defunct Articles of Confederation) which was no longer even part of the new Federal scheme, this Joint Committee reported out- on 12 May and 13 May 1790 (to the Senate and House, respectively)- [t]hat the terms for which the President, Vice President, Senators and Representatives of the United States, were respectively chosen, did, according to the Constitution, commence on the 4th day of March, 1789 and that, as a result, the Representatives- in particular- will not, according to the Constitution, be entitled by virtue of the same election by which they hold seats in the present Congress, to seats in the next Congress, which will be assembled after the 3d day of March, 1791. The three Electoral "Classes" of Senators were also adjusted accordingly, and the Joint Committee's Report was adopted by Resolution in each house thereafter.
No statute was adopted formally codifying the dates of Terms of Office for Senators and Representatives in Law, by the way: each house of Congress was here, apparently, relying solely on its own constitutional authority to act as the judge of the elections, returns, and qualifications of its own members [per Article I, Section 5, clause 1] in acceding- via Resolution- to the Joint Committee's recommendation. However, that same Joint Committee did point out, in its report, that Congress would have to act statutorily as regarded the Terms of Office of President and Vice President, and do so before the next Presidential Election (that of 1792 into 1793); a Presidential Election Bill to this effect was soon enough proposed, but ended up being tabled in the House just before the First Congress expired: thus, it was left to the Second Congress to actually do so- with 1 Stat. 239, signed into Law by President Washington on 1 March 1792.
Thereby, this date on the calendar, 4 March, was to become one well steeped in American History: for, in fact, it is the one on which, back in 1933, President Franklin Roosevelt himself firmly asserted his belief that the only thing we have to fear is Fear itself: nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance; it is also the date on which- in 1861, as the darkening clouds of Civil War approached- President Abraham Lincoln vainly pleaded that though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection, and- on that same date four years later, as light was beginning to be but dimly seen already assuaging that same darkness- he also declared that with malice toward none, with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in: to bind up the nation's wounds.
Again, the 20th Amendment moved the date of the Presidential Inauguration up to the now-current 20 January beginning in 1937; nonetheless, in the wake of this most recent Presidential Election (the sixth, by the way, dealt with by The Green Papers since this website first appeared on the Internet back in late 1999), March 4th has the (admittedly rank amateur) historian in me now thinking:
For today- 4 March 2021- simply means (as it should mean!) that it has been just about a month and a half (in actuality, but one day beyond six weeks) since President Joe Biden first took office... but, what if?
What if we here in America still- unlike now 22 times, so far, since 1937- first swore in our Presidents on this day, instead of back on 20 January? More to the point, what if much along the lines of the tumultuous events of this past January- the three consecutive Wednesdays of I's (as in Insurrection, Impeachment, and Inauguration) that dominated the headlines and news broadcasts, not just here in the United States but all round the globe, during the first two-thirds of that month- had been able to continue for yet another month and a half, another six weeks plus, beyond 20 January?
If nothing else, this certainly gives one much pause!
The American States, as well as the American people, have believed a close and firm Union to be essential to their liberty and to their happiness. They have been taught by experience, that this Union cannot exist without a government for the whole... Under the influence of this opinion, and thus instructed by experience, the American people, in the conventions of their respective States, adopted the present Constitution... The people made the Constitution, and the people can unmake it. It is the creature of their own will, and lives only by their will...
That the United States form, for many, and for most important purposes, a single nation has not yet been denied. In war, we are one people. In making peace, we are one people. In all commercial regulations, we are one and the same people... America has chosen to be, in many respects and to many purposes, a nation, and for all these purposes her government is complete; for all these objects, it is competent; the people have declared, that in the exercise of all powers given for these objects, it is supreme. It can, then, in effecting these objects, legally control all individuals or governments within the American territory...
A constitution is framed for ages to come, and is designed to approach immortality as near as mortality can approach it. Its course cannot always be tranquil. It is exposed to storms and tempests, and its framers must be unwise statesmen indeed, if they have not provided it, as far as its nature will permit, with the means of self-preservation from the perils it is sure to encounter.--
Chief Justice of the United States JOHN MARSHALL, from the Opinion of the [US Supreme] Court in Cohens v. Virginia (6 Wheaton [19 U.S.] 264 )
Back in the wake of the very first Presidential Election this website covered- that of 2000- I had (as everything was finally being, at least constitutionally, resolved through the Bush v. Gore cases in the US Supreme Court followed by then-Vice President Al Gore's concession as mid-December [and the meetings- in the several States and D.C.- of that year's Presidential Electors approached]) at least the temerity, perhaps, to suggest (by e-mail to my partner in this endeavor, this website's Webmaster Tony Roza) that The Green Papers might well have "peaked too soon": that the website's first-ever American election was one that would never ever be matched again in its overall strangeness, or weirdness, as compared to what had seemed to be the norm for Presidential Elections up to that time.
Arguably, I was to be proven wrong (if not in relation to the General Election itself, then to the Presidential Nomination process in at least one of the two Major Parties here in the United States) at least a couple- maybe, even a few- times since (and how foolish what I said to Mr. Roza in that e-mail has seemed, over the ensuing two decades!); however, not at all to the extent that the 2020 Presidential Election- along with its aftermath- has proven to have been-- well-- weird!
From 2004 on, it had become my regular practice to write a Commentary on the aftermath of the most recent Presidential Election, along with what same might well portend, politically, for each of the two Major Parties in the near future (that is: going into the ensuing Midterm Election cycle, where not also the later, next, Presidential Election)-- and I have, hitherto, also endeavored to do so within a short time of Election Day in early November itself: indeed, I did just this in 2004, in 2008, in 2012, and in 2016.
2020, on the other hand, clearly required a much different approach (indeed, going into this most recent General Election, I wrote- after first quoting from my immediately previous piece that this website would be at least somewhat better prepared should things thereafter become-- well-- weird! ("better prepared", that is, than we were back in 2000)- that however, we certainly can't yet know just what that "weird!" might be, assuming it yet even actually comes to be. Well, the "weird!" in the wake of the 2020 Elections was one that principally required all that proverbial "dust to settle" before I could fairly, and completely, opine on the subject; and there, in fact, has been quite a lot of such "dust" which, in turn, has taken its own sweet time so "settling"!
Even as the election of former Vice President Joe Biden as the next President of the United States first became apparent over the weekend immediately following the date of the November Election itself- that is, as enough Electoral Votes to put Biden over the necessary 270 to so elect him became clear that Saturday (as we so posted at the time, an act that earned this website no little disapprobation from at least some quarters within our readership; yet we nonetheless, as ever, have to go where the returns in real time tell us to go)- it was already seen that there were, and yet would be, many legal challenges on behalf of the then-still incumbent President to this result (challenges that were perfectly acceptable, no matter how trivial- where not even downright silly: one brings one's grievance before the courts, and the courts then decide on the legal and constitutional merits- or lack- thereof!) Thus, I decided to wait at least a spell before composing just such a post-Election retrospective plus political look forward for this website.
That "spell" well lengthened, however, as it became known that the two Special Senate election runoffs in Georgia would, in the end, determine the very political complexion of the United States Senate in the ensuing 117th Congress; in addition, I wanted to make sure that the Electoral Vote- as actually cast- did not evince any changes from that which ultimately came to be calculated aforehand (306 for Biden/Harris, 232 for Trump/Pence): not only as might regard so-called Faithless Electors (there were none this time round), but also in case State Legislatures (generally those controlled by Republicans in States which Democrat Joe Biden so closely won) might be tempted on their own- where not induced by others- to try and certify Presidential Electors for a national ticket other than the one for which a plurality of their voters had voted (something which did not, in fact, ever happen).
Thus, I would wait to so write until after what I expected to be an at least interesting (if only to Politics wonk me!) 24 hours (if not even longer!) of interrelated political/electoral events beginning with the closing of the polls in Georgia (re: the aforementioned Senate runoffs) on Tuesday 5 January 2021 at 7 PM Eastern (straight-up Midnight Greenwich Mean) Time. It was to be a late night, as the call of the election of now-Senator Rafael Warnock well preceded that for the election of now-Senator Jon Ossoff by many hours; however, I also knew that I would likely be up well into the evening (if not even later!) the following day as there promised to be more than a few challenges to the counting and tabulation of Electoral Votes from several States raised from the floor during the Joint Session of Congress constitutionally charged with such a task. Needless to say: little sleep was to be had (much as already had been the case two months before, as 3 November 2020 became well into November 4th)!
What actually took place on Capitol Hill come midday into early afternoon of Wednesday 6 January was as much a surprise to me as it seemed to have been to most other observers of the American political scene. Yes, I knew there would be a gathering- a rally- of primarily Trump/Pence 2020 supporters south of the White House, one before which then-President Trump would speak: in fact, I appeared, as a guest, on satellite radio that very morning (although well before the President's own remarks were scheduled, so my appearance thereon was unlikely to be "bumped" by this) and, during my time on the air, happily 'geeked on' about the at least somewhat arcane procedures- as outlined within the first Chapter of Title 3 of the United States Code- to be followed whenever such challenges as noted in the preceding paragraph (so long as they be put forth by at least one Representative and one Senator acting in concert) might be made.
I expected a rather late night (perhaps one well into the wee hours of 7 January)- in fact, said so on air- as it appeared there would be upwards of five- possibly even six- such challenges brought forth during the course of the Tabulation Joint Session, each one of which would have- per the provisions of 3USC15- required the Joint Session to be suspended, so that each house could separately debate and vote on each challenge independently: during my satellite radio appearance, I even opined that- for the first time ever- Congress might well be forced to avail itself of the provision- in 3USC16- allowing it to adjourn until 10 AM next business day (up to only four successive days, however)!
Obviously, as we all now know, the separate debate in each house of Congress on the very first objection raised- that against the counting of Biden Electors from Arizona- was rudely interrupted by outside events (which rather quickly moved inside the Capitol): it, indeed, turned out to be a late night (the Tabulation Joint Session adjourned at around quarter of 4 next morning), but not for the reasons I had originally thought nearly 18 hours before (and also spoke about on satellite radio that morning)!
I was largely unaware of what was happening on Capitol Hill outside, as well as inside the building itself (other than occasional reports I would see pop up on my laptop, or smartphone, screen as I was taking notes on the still-ongoing Tabulation Joint Session while monitoring same on my TV at home- reports that suggested a rather large, and unruly, crowd of primarily pro-Trump/anti-Biden protestors were on the Capitol grounds noisily exercising their First Amendment rights of Free Speech and [at least generally] Peaceable Assembly, but nothing that at all heralded an actual breach of security around the Capitol building) until the Senate (with President pro Tempore Charles Grassley in the chair, rather than Vice President Pence) rather unceremoniously gaveled itself out of session while Senator James Lankford [R-Oklahoma] had the floor; I immediately switched over to see what the House was then doing (I had been switching, from time to time, between the two C-SPAN channels covering each chamber once the Joint Session had suspended in order for the first challenge [again, that involving Arizona's Electoral Vote] to be debated in each) in time to see it, too, unceremoniously recess (without Speaker Nancy Pelosi in the Chair) as well: only then did I go to the various and sundry cable news channels on my TV to learn much more about what had actually caused this disruption; thus, I came to all that was going on outside the chambers of Congress rather late in that sequence of events.
In any event, it was immediately clear that anything *I* might write about the aftermath of the 2020 Elections would, once again, have to wait until any and all aftermath of these events had become at least somewhat better known (in the first few hours I was now riveted to the story unfolding on my television screen here in New Jersey that afternoon, it was even unclear if- or even how- Congress might resume tabulating, and counting, the Electoral Vote!): as we now know, of course, Insurrection would abate, and the Electoral Vote count and tabulation would resume that same evening (with only two challenges, all told, to same- one regarding Pennsylvania in addition to Arizona); this, in turn, would be followed by Impeachment of then-still President Trump by the House a week later, the Inauguration of now-President Biden a week after that, and (ultimately) an Impeachment Trial of the now-former President Trump the following month (last month, February), events that have served to push the main purpose of this piece of mine back even further...
only now- not only in the wake of the above-related events, but also following on the recent meeting of CPAC (the Conservative Political Action Conference) in Florida- can we say that 'Election 2020' is now truly over, and that the campaign- not only for the 2022 Midterm Elections, but even for the 2024 presidential nominations (at moment, and in particular, that of the Republicans)- is now underway: hence my writing this particular piece for posting today, 4 March 2021: as good a day as any- given the date's past history (as already recounted earlier)- for me to now (finally) do so!
A nation may be said to consist of its territory, its people, and its laws. That territory is the only part which is of certain durability. "One generation passeth away and another generation cometh, but the earth abideth forever". It is of the first importance to duly consider and estimate this ever-enduring part. That portion of the earth's surface which is owned and inhabited by the people of the United States is well adapted to be the home of one national family, and it is not well adapted for two or more. Its vast extent and its variety of climate are of advantage in this age for one people, whatever they might have been in former ages. Steam, telegraphs, and intelligence have brought these to be an advantageous combination for one united people...
Fellow citizens, we cannot escape history... No personal significance or insignificance can spare one or another of us... We shall nobly save or meanly lose the last best hope of earth... The way is peaceful, generous, just-- a way which if followed the world will forever applaud and God must forever bless.--
President ABRAHAM LINCOLN, from his Second Annual Message to Congress [on the State of the Union]: 1 December 1862
There is an oft-told story (something of a "ripping geopolitical yarn")- more and more proving to have been at least somewhat overstated, yet it remains a good story- that, during his trip to the People's Republic of China in February 1972, US President Richard Nixon asked Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai about the overall effect of the French Revolution on World History in general, and Western Civilization in particular- to which Zhou famously replied "Too soon to tell" (other translations have it as "Too early to say").
Stronger indications- based on the recollections of those who were actually present during this exchange- are that Zhou might well have (indeed, was more likely to have), instead, been referring to the then-still recent student uprisings in Paris back during that tumultuous year of 1968, rather than that much earlier uprising which began with the storming of the Bastille way back in 1789 (after all, the 1968 French students, rather naturally, had borrowed tropes from other previous 'French Revolutions'- those of 1830, 1848, and 1870- as much as, if not even more than, they had from that of 1789- purposely, and pointedly, making public reference [in relation to themselves] to such things as "Paris commune", etc.).
Nonetheless, I myself think that this very line- "Too soon to tell" (or, if you will, "Too early to say")- may well also be said of the American Revolution, along with that never-ending quest for the ever-elusive 'more perfect Union' proposed, where not also promised, within the Preamble to that Federal Constitution which ultimately emerged from the aftermath of Our Revolution (coincidentally, as well as ever-interestingly, first becoming effective in the same calendar year, 1789, in which the original French Revolution would break out)...
so, how has it all gone for the American Republic since its founding? Too soon to tell; too early to say!
Therefore, as far as the January 6th Insurrection itself be concerned, I will here only note the following:
At the time I was watching, on my television at home here in New Jersey, that afternoon's events on Capitol Hill unfold (as already noted above, I had come to all of this once it was already well underway, as I had been monitoring the debate in each house of Congress over the objections to the counting of Arizona's Electoral Vote up to the time each body ended up- some five minutes apart- so abruptly recessing), I found myself thinking- and am still thinking as I now type this- 'Just what in hell were those so storming the U.S. Capitol themselves thinking?'
Did they truly believe they could actually overturn the 2020 Presidential Election result through riot? For, even had they found the Electoral Vote certificates (always- throughout the Tabulation Joint Session of Congress every four years- in the custody of the United States Senate, since the Federal Constitution- within its 12th Amendment- requires that one set of such certificates be transmit[ted], sealed, to the seat of the Government of the United States directed to the President of the Senate) and destroyed them (seemingly the goal of at least many of those who had so invaded the building during said Electoral Vote Tabulation), Section 11 of Title 3 of the United States Code provides as follows:
The electors shall dispose of the certificates so made by them and the lists attached thereto in the following manner: First. They shall forthwith forward by registered mail one of the same to the President of the Senate at the seat of government. Second. Two of the same shall be delivered to the secretary of state of the State, one of which shall be held subject to the order of the President of the Senate, the other to be preserved by him for one year and shall be a part of the public records of his office and shall be open to public inspection. Third. On the day thereafter they shall forward by registered mail two of such certificates and lists to the Archivist of the United States at the seat of government, one of which shall be held subject to the order of the President of the Senate. The other shall be preserved by the Archivist of the United States for one year and shall be a part of the public records of his office and shall be open to public inspection. Fourth. They shall forthwith cause the other of the certificates and lists to be delivered to the judge of the district in which the electors shall have assembled.
Thus, there were six sealed copies of the both the Certificates of Ascertainment and the Certificates of Electoral Vote in each State, and the District of Columbia, done up at the time the Presidential Electors themselves had voted last 14 December!
The reason for this is quite simple (where it is not also most obvious): Section 12 of the same United States Code Title states that [w]hen no certificate of vote... from any State shall have been received... after the meeting of the electors shall have been held, the President of the Senate or, if he be absent from the seat of government, the Archivist of the United States shall request, by the most expeditious method available, the secretary of state of the State to send up the certificate and list lodged with him by the electors of such State; and it shall be his duty upon receipt of such request immediately to transmit same by registered mail to the President of the Senate at the seat of government. Further, Section 13 of USC Title 3 also provides that [w]hen no certificates of votes from any State shall have been received... the President of the Senate or, if he be absent from the seat of government, the Archivist of the United States shall send a special messenger to the district judge in whose custody one certificate of votes from that State has been lodged, and such judge shall forthwith transmit that list by the hand of such messenger to the seat of government.
Simply put: there were several other sealed, official records of the Electoral Vote from each State and D.C. that could have been acquired, if necessary, in place of the ones that happened to be at the United States Capitol on 6 January 2021 and, thereby, later used by Congress to formalize the result of the 2020 Presidential Election well before President Joe Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris were sworn into their respective offices come the following 20 January!
But, more to the point (and, again, I thought this as well back on 6 January- and also still think of this now): just what in hell was going on in then-President Trump's mind? Did he honestly think that he might actually- somehow- be able to extend his own Term in Office in defiance of constitutional fiat? For the language of Section 1 of the 20th Amendment to the United States Constitution is as plain as it is both explicit, as well as emphatic:
The terms of the President and Vice President shall end at noon on the 20th day of January...; and the terms of their successors shall then begin.
And this, too, is purposeful: for it speaks of the end of a presidential Term of Office, not its beginning and, thereby, prevents an incumbent President- or anyone acting on his behalf- from at all preventing the start of the next numbered four-year Administration; because the current Administration so constitutionally, and definitively, comes to an end, and a President's successor (whoever said successor- whether elected, or succeeding to the Nation's Highest Office through constitutionally and/or statutory Presidential Succession- might turn out to be) comes into that High Office at that same moment.
As I myself once said, during an interview- back during the 2016 Presidential Campaign- for an Internet-based publication: "There can never not be a President of the United States"!
Therefore, no matter what- even if the Electoral Vote tabulation by Congress had been delayed, by virtue of the Insurrection and its aftermath (which, as things thankfully turned out, it was not), beyond this past 20 January- Donald John Trump would no longer constitutionally be President of the United States beyond Noon Eastern Standard Time (1700 hours, Greenwich Mean Time) on 20 January 2021 in any event!
Of course, there is much, even as of this typing some six weeks after the aforementioned events, we still have to learn about how, and why, what happened on Capitol Hill this past 6 January took place (and this despite so recent congressional hearings into the matter): although I am certain more will, at some point, be found out; and woe be to any member of either house of Congress- or any other officer of Government: Federal or State, elective or appointed, currently serving or no- who might have helped the Insurrectionists: for Section 3 of the 14th Amendment to the Federal Constitution states that [n]o person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President or Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State Legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection... against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof..
The foregoing constitutional provision must, and should, be enforced- that is: only should facts come to indicate that this be at all necessary- as Insurrection against the Congress of the United States engaged, at the very time of said Insurrection, in carrying out its constitutional duties under the 12th Amendment, as well as per the statutory provisions of Sections 15 through 18 of Title 3 of the United States Code, is most clearly enmity against same by those in public office who might well have been involved in said Insurrection!
[By the way: much has been- and still is- being made of the question as to whether what took place at the Capitol the afternoon of 6 January 2021 was "really" Insurrection; that is, whether or not it was all just, simply, Riot (as I myself had originally described it in this website's summary of that day's Tabulation Joint Session of Congress [although please know that my deadline was to have that summary posted on the website within mere hours of when that Joint Session itself gaveled out early the following morning, well before much of what we already now know- as I type this- about those events could have been known]).
By the time I am writing this Commentary, then, it is most clear to me that I must best use the definition of Insurrection as found in two encyclopedic dictionaries of English that were most prevalent during my years in high school and college [that is: throughout most of the 1970s]-- from the Random House Dictionary of the English Language, we find Insurrection defined as follows: An act or instance of rising in revolt, rebellion, or resistance against civil authority or an established government; meanwhile, Webster's Third New International Dictionary defines Insurrection thusly: An act or instance of revolting against civil or political authority or against an established government. Keep in mind that a co-equal branch of the established (Federal) government of the United States was, back on 6 January (if only temporarily), so prevented from discharging its duly authorized constitutional duties- duties statutorily scheduled for that very date (as everyone knew).
More to the point, however, we also have the definition of INSURRECTION in the original "Webster's"- Noah Webster's American Dictionary of the English Language, that is: the definitions within which many constitutional and legal (statutory and case law) Originalists insist upon as being most indicative of the understanding of words as used by the Founding Generation. Therein it is written that Insurrection is a rising against civil or political authority; the open and active opposition of a number of persons to the execution of law in a city or state. It is equivalent to sedition, except that sedition expresses a less extensive rising of citizens. It differs from rebellion, for the latter expresses a revolt, or an attempt to overthrow a government, to establish a different one or to place the country under another jurisdiction.
Nonetheless, Noah Webster himself goes on to note that Insurrection is however used with such latitude as to comprehend either sedition or rebellion. Therefore, if we apply a definition of Insurrection that surely would have been known to 19th Century America (right down to that word's very appearance in Section 3 of the 14th Amendment as cited above), we need not discern whether or not its effectors- back on 6 January- contemplated actual overthrow of the constitutional order under attack, or merely disruption of its particular execution, that day...
to here repeat: the open and active opposition of a number of persons to the execution of law (in this case, specifically, the execution of much within the first chapter of Title 3 of the United States Code), defining a term used with such latitude as to comprehend either sedition or rebellion...
therefore it was, indeed, Insurrection!]
As for the ensuing Impeachment of former President Donald Trump on grounds of Incitement to Insurrection, we all know what happened so very recently: the House of Representatives voted, this past 13 January, by a vote of 232-197, to so impeach; but, by a vote of 57-43 in favor of Conviction upon Impeachment exactly a month later (on 13 February 2021), the United States Senate acquitted him of this charge (as the final vote for Conviction was 10 votes shy of the 2/3 "present and voting" constitutionally required to so convict).
It is not my purpose here to at all relitigate this: instead, I leave it up to each reader of this piece to determine for themselves whether or not what former President Trump did, or did not do- what he said, or did not say- during the course of 6 January 2021 at all warranted impeachment, let alone conviction (and, presumably, had the 67-vote threshold in the Senate been reached, subsequent disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust, or profit under the United States per Article I, Section 3, clause 7 of the U.S. Constitution). I here merely (if only as something of a guide) refer the reader to two of my most relevant Commentaries in this regard- the first posted on 5 October 2019, the second posted on 21 January 2020; both related to the first Impeachment of President Trump a year earlier, and opining- if only in large part- upon views on Impeachment (of, in particular, the President) held by many of the Federal Constitution's own Framers in the former, further remarking on various and sundry issues in relationship to Impeachment itself in the latter, and only ask that the interested reader consider same in relation to his or her own opinion on the matter.
However, I will make at least a few observations of my own here on the second Impeachment of now-former President Donald Trump (without, however, at all commenting on the wisdom of the Senate in acquitting him, again, this time round):
Despite the acquittal of the former President, two important something like precedents have lately been put into the historical record (I say "something like precedents" here because, as each house of Congress is a legislative body, the word "precedent" does not have quite the same meaning and/or effect as it has within the case law produced by the Judiciary: in both legislature and court of law, it is something a guide to future such bodies; however, legislators- by their very political nature [ever responding to the wishes, and whims, of their own constituents, their own electorate- do not necessarily embrace stare decisis in the same manner judges are pretty much expected to do within the very concept of Rule of Law):
First, a United States House of Representatives has, by majority vote, made it clear- to future Americans- that a President of the United States (of any Party, embracing any political ideology) inciting insurrection against another branch of the Government is, indeed, an impeachable offense; second, a United States Senate- again, by majority vote (earlier in this most recent Trial Upon Impeachment)- has determined that a former President (indeed, any former Federal officeholder liable to Impeachment!) can, indeed, constitutionally be so tried upon Impeachment, at least so long as the person impeached was still in his or her office at the time the House had initially so acted.
Thus, a Warning from Congress to current and future (in this case) Presidential Administrations has been so posted to History!
Doubtless, at least over the near term, those who opposed the Conviction of former President Trump by the Senate (let alone his having been impeached by the House in the first place) this time round will point to the vote totals in each body and- perhaps even at least somewhat gleefully- note that over 46% of the members of the House (all of Trump's own Republican Party), and 43% of the Senate (again, all Republicans), did not at all support holding the now-former President to account in relation to events surrounding the 6 January Insurrection...
but, long after all of those who are able to now read this piece soon after its having been posted to this website (including its writer) have passed on, the actual vote totals will- in the main- not much matter. QUICK! Right now- without looking this up: what was the final vote in the House re: Impeachment of President Andrew Johnson back in 1868? (Special bonus question: how many Representatives abstained on that same vote? I happen to know, right off the top of my own head, the answers to both questions-- but only because, sadly, I'm that geeky! I dare say that the vast majority of Americans now in early 2021 cannot- right off the bat- answer either, however).
Nonetheless, as I myself noted back on 5 October 2019: While the Judiciary is, by its very nature (not to also mention its organization and procedures), forced to contemplate but 'Rule of Law', the Legislative branch always acts primarily on grounds of 'popular Accountability'-- and this is certainly no less so in the realm of Impeachment!; therefore, in the main, Impeachment- being the sole prerogative of the Legislative Branch (not just on the Federal, but also on the State, level)- certainly most responds to 'popular Accountability'. For, as I myself noted in that same piece:
When it comes to Impeachment (of any civil officer of the United States liable to same, but especially the President of the United States), there are two primary "rules" above all others:
- Impeachment is as much a legal process as it might be a political one;
- Impeachment is as much a political process as it might be a legal one.
... which is but a perfect way to (finally!) introduce that which was always intended to be the original purpose of this Commentary.
[A] successful American political party must be a non-ideological affair, accommodating many points of view and speaking at times with many voices, a true federation and thus a true accommodator of all the interests of a continent. Such parties should never allow themselves to feel, and preach, that the opposition is not only mistaken but wicked.--
HERBERT AGAR, from the Preface to the Second Edition of The Price of Union: The Influence of the American Temper on the Course of History 
We face a four-party system that compels government by consensus and coalition rather than a two-party system that allows the winning party to govern and the losers to oppose... This system is rooted in our constitutional arrangements, electoral behavior, party institutions, and machinery of government. Above all, it is rooted in our minds... Our need is not to win an election or a leader; we must win a government... We cannot unfreeze our politics until we unfreeze our minds.--
JAMES MacGREGOR BURNS, from The Deadlock of Democracy: Four-Party Politics in America 
Messrs. Agar and Burns were, of course, both writing during something of a different era of American Politics: an era of what the late Theodore H. White- most famous for his Making of the President series of books recounting the presidential campaigns of the late mid-20th Century for the major party nominations, as well as for the Presidency itself in the ensuing November elections- called "Old Country" politics. It was an era in which the National Conventions of each Party still generally nominated that party's presidential (and vice-presidential) candidates- the support of (ultimately) a majority of the delegates on the floor still being the determining factor (as only one-third of the States of the American Union held Presidential Primaries during the preceding Spring back then and, in at least a few of these, the results were not necessarily binding, a far cry from today's "marathon" of 'Delegate Selection Events' in State after State, week after week, every four years that first emerged during the 1970s: it is, indeed, telling that a book about the 1976 presidential campaign- written by one of Mr. White's main "competitors", as it were, Jules Witcover- was, in fact, titled Marathon and, more to the point, subtitled The Pursuit of the Presidency: 1972-1976 [well note those dates: yes, indeed-- 2020 has only so recently ended and we're already in the 2024 Election Cycle!]).
It was also an era during which the "four parties" to which Mr. Burns, in particular, referred, were- on the Republican side- two leading factions: the so-called 'Congressional' wing of such GOP luminaries as Senator Robert Taft of Ohio (the "Mr. Republican" of the 1940s and 1950s) and (later, in the 1960s) Senator Everett Dirksen of Illinois, and the so-called 'Establishment' (aka 'Presidential') wing that produced GOP presidential candidates such as (unsuccessful) Governor Thomas Dewey of New York and (successful) General Dwight Eisenhower; while- on the Democratic side- there were the 'Trad-Libs' (Traditional Liberals: in essence, the Democratic 'Establishment' of its time) such as, for one, Senator Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota, and the 'Populists' (principally, but not solely, from the South) such as, say, Senator Richard Russell of Georgia (a wing of The Party of the People that, due to their long service in either house of Congress, gained many of its adherents seniority in those bodies and- through that, coupled with decades of Democratic majorities in House and Senate- predominance within the Federal Legislative branch).
Main Street (small business, local/regional banks) tended to the more support the 'Congressional' Republicans, while Wall Street (multi-national/international corporations, large national banks and other like financial institutions) tended to support the 'Establishment' GOP; 'Trad-Lib' Democrats tended to be the more international in outlook, as well as the more liberal on such matters as Civil Rights, while 'Populist' Dems tended to attract the more religious (at least, as the Civil Rights movement proceeded apace during the 1950s into the 1960s and 1970s, more religious white folk). Both Main Street Republican and Populist Democrat tended to be persons of small towns and rural areas (quintessential 'Middle America'), while Wall Street Republican and Trad-Lib Democrat tended to be those in more urban, coastal or Great Lakes, metropolitan centers: while the ever-growing Suburbia of the era became, over time, more and more the political "battleground" in which all four "parties" would end up fighting it out in many an election, even as these factions also- at the same time- sought out the votes of the average industrial workingman- and workingwoman- no matter from where these might hail (although there were, to be fair, always many an exception to all that appears within this very paragraph admittedly oversimplifying the many and various complex political streams of a still post-World War II America into which I myself was born some 65 years ago now).
Political coalitions come election time, of course, were almost always intra-Party: Main Street and Wall Street would join in the hope that, at least for the most part, Republicans would win the lion's share of the more competitive races up and down the ballot (but especially the top prizes, where not the Presidency of the United States, at least Governor of one's home State), while the more urban Trad-Lib and more rural Populist Democrat alike would also join forces (however uneasily, although the average workingman of the time still generally leaned Democrat) to gain their own Party the same electoral advantages. Only where one Party happened to nominate someone for President who proved electorally obnoxious to most voters would Party lines be crossed to a greater than usual extent (as happened when many a Republican refused to vote for the "too conservative" Barry Goldwater in 1964, or many a Democrat couldn't bring themselves to support the "too liberal" George McGovern in 1972).
But, in between biennial (and especially the quadrennial Presidential) election contests, politicians of both Parties had to govern- legislators (in at least most States, as well as in both houses of Congress) contained many members of both Parties, and public policy options seemingly favored by their constituents still had to be implemented: thus, often as not, policy coalitions crossed Party lines (for instance: 'Establishment' Republicans and 'Trad-Lib' Democrats tending to be supportive of at least most of the work of, say, the United Nations; 'Congressional' Republicans and 'Populist' Democrats tending to look upon such international/intergovernmental organizations with more than a little suspicion).
Again, I admit I am oversimplifying things quite a bit here-- for there were always complicating nuances, even before the Vietnam War and such other matters as sociocultural issues (tied to such things as Women's and Gay Rights) split the country during, and well after, the 1960s. My main point in having recounted this political retrospective is to suggest that America having two major Parties split into at least two large- often opposing, on at least many issues- factions, or wings, is not at all unusual (or, for that matter, "abnormal") and that, while the wings might themselves have changed over the decades since that long ago time (for example: most of those old-time 'Populist' Democrats- or, at least, their political heirs espousing much the same things- became 'Populist' Republicans, turning the once "Solid Democratic" South of that previous era into a now solidly Republican region of the country), much of what Mr. Burns- and, for that matter, Mr. Agar- had written back then still has much resonance.
The REPUBLICANS are, at least in the immediate aftermath of 2020, truly just such a Party divided (as much as many within it try their utmost to downplay, where not even deny, this)-- yet the question still begs as to just which home, on either side of the Grand Old Party's current divide, is the more in danger of eventual- if not even imminent- collapse. Bets are already being taken by future GOP presidential hopefuls- a list that, if only for the time being, still includes the most recent Republican President, Donald Trump himself- as to who best can gain the support of at least the bulk of the so-called 'Trump base' (again, here presuming it- nonetheless- will no longer belong, or even be beholden, to Donald Trump, Sr. come 2024) or, conversely, how far should one within the Grand Old Party now distance oneself from the Trump legacy (if at all).
I am not here going to discuss- in anything approaching detail- any civil, administrative, or even criminal liability soon to be potentially faced- or, for that matter, perhaps not- by either former President Trump or others (including, perhaps members of his own family- along with other actors within Trump's business enterprises), especially should it be discovered that at least some of this ties into what the former President, or his Administration, did- or did not- do in the realm of Public Policy during his time in office. Any and all investigations into such matters will simply proceed apace, I would think, and whatever might- in future- happen in a court of Law (State or Federal) in this regard will become known to the public in all due course (whatever effects it might, or might not, have on future political/electoral prospects for either former President Trump in particular, or the Republican Party in general).
Nonetheless, it is, and will continue to be, interesting to follow how this two-fold process (political, on the one hand; legal, on the other) might play itself out over the next few years: for, should the Trump political brand end up tainted by just such a thing, will those in the Republican fold who will have remained loyal to the former President till at least almost the very end- or those who were "first in the pool" (during, say, CPAC this past weekend), yet "first out" should the political 'fire' later get much too hot- most benefit going into the 2024 Presidential Election cycle?
In the main, however, political (and other like) movements first fueled, and thereafter constantly re-energized, by a larger-than life personality as has been former President Trump rarely survive- intact- the ultimate absence of that very personality (if only as analogous comparison: Ross Perot, as an Independent, gained nearly 1 out of every 5 votes cast in the 1992 Presidential Election; his ensuing Reform Party, with himself as its presidential candidate, polled less than 1 in 10 four years later; by 2000, Pat Buchanan was the Reform nominee and polled but 4/10 of 1 percent of the Popular Vote-- yes, the Party had elected a Governor in 1998 [Jesse Ventura in Minnesota], but, without Perot, it pretty much petered out as an effective political force per se, however much it might well be argued that the Tea Party of the early 2010s, and much of the 'Trump base' of more recent vintage, is at least part of its legacy-- simply put: as a top-to bottom political organization in and of itself, the Reform Party was merely of its own [rather] short time).
Whether the same dynamic might, or might not, attach to an early 21st Century major Party, such as the Republicans, remains to be seen. In any event, however: the aforementioned legal fate of the Trump legacy may yet prove as important- if not even more important- than its political fate to the future of many a Republican pol/presidential hopeful, not to mention the Grand Old Party itself, as we now head on towards both 2022 and 2024.
How will this all go down for the Grand Old Party? Well-- as for now, in but the first months of 2021 (only a month and a half into President Biden's Administration, as aforesaid), we can only say- as Zhou Enlai once did in a different context- "Too soon to tell"!
As for the DEMOCRATS, they would be well-advised to not get all that cocky in relation to the above:
For the Party of the People is also a Party divided, and 2020 did not entirely remove the slings and arrows first launched within the Hillary vs. Bernie presidential nomination battle back in 2016. In a Party that, given its largest-ever field of presidential contenders who participated in that first set of televised Debates back in the summer of 2019, would otherwise have been expected- at that time- to "go younger" in choosing its 2020 presidential nominee, Joe Biden obviously emerged as the quintessential "compromise candidate" (and that his contemporary in age Bernie Sanders was to be Biden's last serious competition for that nomination is also rather telling)...
simply put: the election of Joe Biden as President of the United States did not put an end to the current Trad-Lib vs. Progressive divide within the Democratic Party-- a divide that might yet become more intense, should more and more non-Trumpian conservatives feel compelled to more and more abandon a Republican Party they feel no longer includes them (or even wants them in the first place, calling them 'RINO's [Republicans In Name Only] and such simply because these refuse to fawn all over Donald Trump as does the majority of the GOP) and just such a thing thereafter, however only potentially right now, moves the "bell curve" of support for the Democrats more and more towards the center and, thereby, more and more away from its Progressive faction to the left and that faction's ideals and policy goals.
Yes, indeed-- winning still, and far more often than not, tends to smooth over- if only for a time- the more serious intraorganizational differences, and this is no less true of an all too often individualistic American Politics as it might be within more individualistic team Sports (for example: many of those who played for Baseball's early 1970s Oakland Athletics famously couldn't much stand each other, yet they still won three World Series championships in between winning five straight Division Titles-- so much for "team chemistry"!).
Yet, how much longer would the Progressive Democrats' mantra of 'Don't let the Perfect become the enemy of the Good' (as these swallow rather hard, say, the lack of an effective Minimum Wage increase in the COVID-19 relief package being considered by Congress as I now type this) survive an ever larger Democratic Party pulling away from their own side of the ideological spectrum as more and more disaffected Republicans might come to end up supporting and voting for the Dems' candidates for office all up and down the ballot (depending on how much, or how little, their opposite numbers on the same ballot are willing to distance themselves- and their own Grand Old Party- from former President Trump)?
In addition, while 2020 did deliver the White House and (ultimately) the United States Senate to Democratic Party control, while the Party of the People managed to maintain its hold on the Federal House of Representatives, its majorities in each chamber remain precarious, as 2020 also shaved down its majority in the lower house, and only Vice President Harris's constitutionally permitted tie-breaking keeps them in charge of the upper: and all this without specifically taking into account that Midterm Elections, historically, tend to not be all that kind to the Party that is now the Federal Government, with the singular exception of a now-more "conservative" Federal Judiciary (a likely long-lasting legacy of the Trump Administration).
Thus, the fate of the Democrats going into the 2024 Presidential Election campaign season will largely begin to be the more fully determined come the aforementioned Midterms in early November 2022; and that fate may well be decided in intra-Party conflicts, as much as it might be through its doing battle with the Other Side of the Aisle.
So, what about NEW PARTIES, then?
I write here not about already-existing Third Parties that perennially contest Presidential Elections, but about (possibly-- maybe?) serious efforts- at least going into 2024 (if not in time for 2022)- to challenge the bipolar hegemony (since at least 1860) held by the two current Major Parties here in America. Polls I have lately seen strongly suggest that fully half of Republicans would follow former President Trump into a third 'Trumpist' (if you will) Party...
but, during his speech before CPAC this past Sunday, Trump himself put the ol' ki-bosh on just such a thing: perhaps even mindful of that which I touched upon above- that political (and other like) movements first fueled, and thereafter constantly re-energized, by a larger-than life personality... rarely survive- intact- the ultimate absence of that very personality)- the former President has clearly decided, instead, to go "Old School" and attempt to revive that politically ancient concept of Titular Leader of the Party (an honorific given, every four years, to the most recent presidential nominee of a Party- whether President, former President, or no- and which had far more political cachet, with or without concomitant clout, up until almost a half-century ago when the aforementioned "marathon" of Presidential Primaries every four Springs first began to put more and more such "clout" in the hands of the rank-and-file Party voters [I think now of a political cartoon I once saw in an American History textbook back in my teenage years showing former President Eisenhower, in the garb of a Baseball manager, looking over the hitters lined up in the GOP "dugout", while deciding which of the 1964 presidential prospects- whether wearing the name 'Goldwater', 'Lodge', 'Nixon', 'Rockefeller', 'Romney' (Mitt's father), or 'Scranton'- might be the best "pinch-hitter" to "come to bat" during the ensuing Republican National Convention: such a cartoon would usually not make all that much sense after 1964 (especially considering that year's eventual presidential nominee- Barry Goldwater- was himself an "insurgent" against the 'Establishment' GOP'ers who had once championed 'Ike'!)]).
That former President Trump might, if only for the time being (during at least "Rubber Chicken Circuit" time, as it once was called-- referring to the rounds of hundreds/thousands dollars a plate affairs those wishing to gain the next presidential nomination of the Party not in the White House might well be forced to attend, back in the day, during the calendar year immediately following the most recent Presidential Election), be on to something here is itself well illustrated by those events of last 6 January not directly connected to that afternoon's Insurrection-- that is: within the Tabulation Joint Session of Congress itself.
I thought- going into 6 January (before I could possibly even know an Insurrection would break out that day, let alone that a second Impeachment of Donald Trump was in the offing!)- and still think, to this very typing, that the (originally) 5 or 6 challenges to counting Electoral Votes for Biden during that day's Tabulation Joint Session of Congress (dropped down to 2 in the wake of said Insurrection) were as much intended to be a "census" of who, in the so recently sworn in 117th Congress, was for, or against, then-outgoing President Trump, as members of both houses of Congress would thereby be forced to go on the record- on Roll Call in each chamber- in relation to said challenges (all clearly supported by then-President Trump)...
the results in the House of Representatives that day (into the wee hours of the following morning) are particularly illustrative: 57.3% of the Republicans in the House voted in favor of the objections to counting Arizona's Electoral Vote for Biden; while 65.4% of the Republicans in the House voted- again- in favor of the objections to so count Pennsylvania's Biden Electors. Therefore, as we now look at the current state of the Republican Party of early 2021 (here assuming the famous "coffee in saucer" explanation of the bicameral Congress- attributed to President George Washington while breakfasting with his Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson- be at least useful, where the story of its origin might not actually be true: that the Federal House of the Representatives truly is most representative of the passions of the American People), we can see that- on the record, to boot- some 6 in 10 GOP pols (here splitting the difference between the two aforementioned votes [61.35 out of 100]) are at least more pro-Trump than not.
So, then, what are Never-Trumper (or Never-Will Be-Trumper, or Never-Ever Were-Trumper) Republicans (and, yes, there are still many out there [the RINOs abide!]) to now do? Form, perhaps, a new conservative alternative to an ever more Trumpian Grand Old Party- one that might, at some point, actually supplant the current GOP?!
The last time something along these same lines was successfully done in American History (key word there: successfully!) was back when- interestingly, where not also ironically- the Republican Party became the first, and so far only, Third Party to supplant one of the two Major Parties- in this case, the Whigs- and become one of those two Major Parties pretty much through its own will (although, to be fair, it was helped along in this effort by other contemporaneous, where not even concomitant, political/electoral factors: such as the Whigs already imploding as a result of the Slavery issue, the Republicans' ability to merge with [perhaps it would be better said that the GOP co-opted, and thereby eventually tamed] the nativist 'Know-Nothings' of the American Party [itself seeking to be an alternative to both the Whigs and Democrats], and the Democrats themselves splitting into Northern and Southern factions [even nominating two different tickets in 1860]-- all allowing Abraham Lincoln, the 1860 Republican presidential nominee, to win the Presidency on the eve of the Civil War [after which, the Grand Old Party could claim the mantle of "saviors of the Union", thereafter allowing themselves the luxury of "waving the Bloody Shirt" against Democrats in election after election throughout the rest of the 19th Century- and on into the early 20th- thereby coming to dominate American Politics on a national scale over the next nearly half-century])...
so: yes, it has been done before!
Nonetheless, we live in very different times now more than a century and a half after the end of that Civil War (much as, as some say the 6 January Insurrection itself yet proves, all too many of its underlying issues [over which Chattel Racial Slavery was but a rather sticky veneer] within American Society, Culture, and Politics remain with us still): Lincoln's "Steam, telegraphs, and intelligence" (quoted above) have well advanced since his own day; instead, we now live in an age of "Jet fuel and the Internet"-- the latter now informing (or, perhaps, misinforming) intelligence...
issues not faced- certainly not in the same way- by a potential serious challenger to one, if not both, of the two Major Parties here in the United States back in the 1850s certainly abound nowadays in the immediate wake of 2020: most notably, MONEY! For where are to be found the many necessary campaign donors (presumably, if only for the greater part, among those currently funding- or who had, at least as of 2020, funded- the Republican Party) who will buck a GOP currently beholden- or with at least a majority of its adherents so being beholden- to former President Trump?
Putting even this aside, there is the very matter of top-to bottom Party organization itself. James MacGregor Burns, in his book from which I quoted earlier in this piece, well described the modern American major political Party, one in which it is the State and local Party apparatus that is altogether necessary in order to maintain- nay, sustain- just such an institution-- and what he wrote nearly 60 years ago is still, in the main, true:
State parties have a double burden. They are independent and sovereign entities in their own right, charged with nominating and electing governors and other statewide officials. Each of them is also one of 50 foundations of the national party, charged with electing presidents and senators and congressional delegations. But this is not all. The state party is a holding company for a profusion of county, city, and town parties that must nominate and elect slates of candidates in those jurisdictions, and that must combine in a variety of ways to elect officials representing different parts of the electoral patchwork: state senators, district attorneys, and the like.
Herein, we can easily see Herbert Agar's American political Party accommodating many points of view and speaking at times with many voices, a true federation and thus a true accommodator of all the interests of a continent in microcosm!
Although James MacGregor Burns was the more known for his career as an historian (his Roosevelt: The Lion and the Fox [about the first two terms of FDR's Presidency] was used as a required text in one of the United States History courses I took while attending Boston University), he well knew of what he wrote above from his own experience: in 1958, he ran (unsuccessfully) as a Democrat for an open seat in Congress from western Massachusetts (the man who defeated him, Republican Silvio Conte, would thereafter long serve in the House of Representatives) and, in so doing, had to deal with gaining the support, or enduring the lack thereof, from (once he had won the Democratic Primary) a myriad of local Democratic Parties (some more enthusiastic about that congressional race than others) in that otherwise back then-predominantly Republican District.
Thus, in considering Burns's analysis, we have to ask just where- that is: to which municipalities or townships, counties or States- would a non-Trump (where not even anti-Trump) conservative alternative Party turn (the already noted, and rather dicey, issue of getting campaign funding from donors, rather than from a party organization, notwithstanding) to even to begin to create just such a top-to bottom new (not to mention viable!) political Party in today's American political sphere? More to the point, just which currently Republican State and/or local Parties (which would be needed as an at least basic foundation for any such extraParty challenge to the GOP from those only so recently within it) would so openly move away from former President Trump and his supporters in order to thereafter participate in just such a movement-- and all in time for at least 2024, if not 2022?
In historical terms, where- now, in 2021- are today's "conscience Whigs" and "Free Soilers" who, back in the mid-1850's, formed the backbone of a new Republican Party that, within little more than a half decade, left behind but a rump 'Constitutional Union' Party as the last dying embers of the early 19th Century American Whigs these same Republicans were destined to replace as one of two Major American Parties?
I think we can easily figure out the answer to these questions, and it is not one- certainly not in the near term- all that favorable to such an endeavor: yet, as I at least hinted earlier in this very piece, American Political History shows that alternative organizations seeking the Presidency alone do not work at all well as viable challengers to the current two Major Parties. Putting aside the fate of both Ross Perot and his Reform Party of the last decade of the Last Century (already detailed above), no permanent Party organization able to replace one of the two Major Parties emerged from, say, John Anderson's 'National Unity Campaign' in 1980, or George Wallace's 'American Independent' Party in 1968 (indeed, Wallace only ended up seeking the Democratic Party presidential nomination four years later, during which he was crippled by an assassination attempt); Strom Thurmond's 'Dixiecrats' were not all that long outside the Democratic Party from which they had bolted in 1948 (even though we can now see foreshadowings therein of future generations of Southern voters moving away from the Democrats and towards the Republicans), and even Theodore Roosevelt- a former President still milking his reputation as a 'Rough Rider' ("We stand at Armageddon, and we battle for the Lord!")- could not (even with all his charisma and political craft) create enough national political momentum for his 'Bull Moose' Progressives after 1912 (I've recently written about the GOP thereafter reuniting behind Charles Evans Hughes as its standard-bearer in 1916, while co-opting the national Progressives of that same year even before the General Election itself!)...
recall also, dear reader, that Donald Trump once toyed with gaining the 2000 presidential nomination of what- only so recently- had been Ross Perot's Reform Party; yet, only once he sought the presidential nomination of the Republican Party sixteen years later could he actually, finally, gain the Prize itself!
Thus, America is still left with only two viable, nationwide political alternatives to be had come 2024 (or, for that matter, 2022): Joe Biden's (and Kamala Harris's) Democrats, and a Republican Party only just now trying to figure out whether Donald Trump is still a factor in its future- either as a viable politician (even candidate for a second, non-consecutive, term as President); or merely an issue, a problem, or even a liability, for the GOP. So far, at least (because this could all change in future, and rather quickly so ['A month is a year in Politics, and four years a Lifetime']), the majority of Republicans (at least 6 in 10, as I've said) appear to remain loyal to the former President and his message of what- albeit in early 21st Century terms- was once that of both William Jennings Bryan going into, at, and soon after the Turn of the Last Century, and Barry Goldwater more than a half-century later (more than a half-century ago now)...
or so opined Herbert Agar, in his Second Edition of his The Price of Union, thusly:
It was the old yearning for the lost youth of America, for the ghost of the Frontier, for the innocence and the confidence of those days, and for the far simpler world in which the Atlantic and Pacific oceans were huge barriers behind which we could conduct our own affairs unhampered by the rest of the human race. In such a world, could we but recreate it, there would be no need for big government, big unions, big taxes, or even big wars. And there would be no need to admit we cannot always get our way by yelling loudly enough. Part of the charm of the Frontier myth is its irresponsible childishness. All Americans must have felt this backward-longing occasionally, and some Americans never grow out of it...
In answer to just such a thing, Agar suggested we remember that two major parties have emerged as coalitions of local interest groups devoted to finding and implementing a national political consensus... When all the interests of a federal empire have been consulted, and when a tolerable compromise between them has been reached, the compromise labelled "Democratic" will not be widely different from that labelled "Republican". Yet for the health of the Republic we must have two such coalitions. One would not suffice, for in that case how could we get the rascals out?
It was in this context that Agar originally stated that which I have already quoted from him above: In 1896 as in 1964, he noted, a man who stood for "No Compromise" stampeded a Convention... But they were both beaten for the same reason: they both, in their rash enthusiasm, forgot that a successful American political party must be a non-ideological affair, accommodating many points of view and speaking at times with many voices, a true federation and thus a true accommodator of all the interests of a continent. Such parties should never allow themselves to feel, and preach, that the opposition is not only mistaken but wicked.
That Republican Party which, despite winning State Governor's chairs and legislative seats in 2020, still lost the Presidency and control of the United States Senate while- at the same time- failing to gain control of the Federal House of Representatives (despite shaving down the Democrats' majority in that chamber) is now dealing with this very issue. But the lately victorious Democrats- victorious at least at the Federal level- would be most wise to take heed of Agar's words as well...
as should also the Insurrectionists of January 6th, and those- both in and out of public office- who see them as, somehow, heroic...
although I'm certainly not holding my breath!