How to stop a coup

I’ve been struggling to pull myself away from the news and twitter to talk about the coup attempt this week. As someone who’s planned and participated in dozens of events and actions at the Capitol – many where we peacefully and non-violently risked arrest and were met with a substantially larger, armed, and violent response – I share the shock, outrage and emotion of all of you.

It’s important to be very clear about two things in the immediate aftermath:

  1. This was a Coup attempt, and it’s not over yet.
  2. This week’s coup is nothing like the non-violent, civil disobedience and protest we’re a part of every day, and we must be mindful that our reaction is orderly, legal and based in love and justice – not hate and violent retribution.

If you agree that Trump must be impeached and removed from office, click here to sign on.

Donald Trump directed the mob to go to the capital, and incited them to violence – not just on January 6 but for weeks before that. For years Trump and his enablers have built a culture of white supremacy, and demonstrated a conviction to rule through force and fear. We’ve been calling Trump a fascist and warning of exactly these kind of outcomes for more than four years. For years Very Serious People called us “deranged” or warned us not to exaggerate the threat. Now, finally, they seem to agree.

Even House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate soon-to-be Leader Chuck Schumer – who are usually slow to act in a crisis like climate change, or Trump’s previous abuses of power – are calling for swift action to remove the coup-leader, the deposed ex-President Donald Trump from power.

There’s a lot of talk about the 25th amendment, which Trump’s cabinet could invoke. But it’s not an instant solution – requiring complicated votes by the cabinet that are not easy to convene, and confirmation by Congress. And anyway, most of Trump’s cabinet seems to feel that resigning is a safer path to restoring their reputations (another thing we cannot allow to happen), rather than removing Trump from power and risking the wrath of the same people who smashed up the capital days ago.

Which is why invoking impeachment, again, is the only sure step to remove Trump from office. And it’s a step Congress must take right away, before Trumps last 12 days in office expire, because the coup isn’t over yet. Students of history and political insurrection around the world know that often, fascists and authoritarians often have to try more than once, and more than one method, to hold on to power.

What we saw Wednesday was only a link in a long chain of events where fossil fueled, white-supremacist fascists try and seize control of our government, and bend it to their will.

They won’t go away when Trump leaves office on January 20. And Trump himself has already talked about running for President again, and clearly intends to retain ‘control’ of the GOP. But if Congress impeaches, and convicts Trump before Jan 20, he will be barred from running from office ever again.

Click here to sign on to our joint petition with many national partners. Only by working together can we build the pressure necessary for Congress to act. And only through Congressional Action can we stop this coup and prevent Trump from trying to seize power again.

We’ll have lots more to say, and lots more to talk about, why our non violent, civil disobedience actions — including ones where we risk arrest in the US Capitol — are nothing like the fascist coup attempt we saw this week. A short, simple, explanation might be that intent matters, and how we conduct ourselves while speaking truth as a minority political power, to a majority political power.

When we take action, we come in peace and we speak and act – at times disruptively – to cry out for justice and a safe and healthy planet for all. Often we bring or bear in our hearts the stories of those impacted adversely by the policies in question – bearing witness to their pain and bearing it into the sight and hearing of those in power who would rather ignore it.

That’s more or less the opposite of what happened this week: A violent, hateful, mob broke down the doors to stop the functioning of Democracy and demand that their already-powerful leader be given more power, or else. They brought with them the failed emblems of other white supremacist insurrections. And they clearly felt entitled to seize power, no matter who they had to hurt, step over, or disenfranchise to get there. When police pushed back and arrested a paltry few of the thousands or rioters, they responded with shock and alarm – literally saying “they’re supposed to shoot BLM not [us].”

Like I said, lots more to say on this in the future. But for today I’ll leave you with this simple image: Of Rev Warnock, now a United States Senator, being arrested peacefully at a non-violent, civil disobedient prayer vigil for universal health care in 2017. It’s a lot like a lot of actions we’ve helped organize during the Trump regime’s rise to power. And we wont stop until all of them are gone and barred from our government for good.