Sedition ranks right up there with treason as a heinous crime applicable to anybody who actively plans to overthrow our government. More than 20 months after anti-patriots stormed the U.S. Capitol, only a handful of dangerous organizers have been charged with seditionist conspiracy. In my book, more need to face the tough crime of sedition.
While treason is the actual crime of attacking the authority of the government, such as mauling, injuring and killing police officers who protected the Capitol on January 6, sedition is a different flavor of rebellion. It consists of overt conduct, such as speech or organizing, to overthrow a government. While not punishable by death, it’s long been a federal crime to foment rebellion against the federal government, which exists to organize, protect and implement the enviable tenets of our representative democracy.
MAGA America seems to believe the U.S. Constitution authorizes the protection of liberty through the overthrow of government. But they must have missed the civics class discussion of the second paragraph of the U.S. Constitution — the part that says all men are created equal. It discusses how the power of government stems from the will of the people — all of the people, not a small band of authoritarian conspirators. It says when all of the people, which suggests a reasonable process of elections, decide they want to alter or abolish a government, they can do so — but by instituting a new government to “effect safety and happiness.” This is not to be done through a violent overthrow of order by trying to thwart the peaceful transfer of power.
The Constitution’s plain language is being misused by small cadres of militant haters who wrap themselves in the flag. The Constitution doesn’t give a green light to revolution like the Jan. 6 thugs wanted. It suggests a peaceful process to change government to make it more representative.
And that’s why more of the hundreds who stormed the Capitol need to be held accountable for their seditious — and in some cases treasonous — behavior. Washington needs to send a clear message that any individuals or groups that want to color outside the lines and take matters into their own hands should be treated as unfaithful Americans.
It’s disappointing the U.S. Justice Department hasn’t prosecuted more for sedition, particularly in light of the bone-chilling House hearings about what happened on and before the insurrection. It’s disappointing that Democrats, who control both chambers of Congress, aren’t insisting on more charges. And it’s totally befuddling why Republicans as a party continue to enable seditious behavior by essentially sitting on their hands.
It’s hard to imagine that former presidents like Dwight Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford would cotton to the coddling of anti-patriots that goes on today. It’s obvious that current Republican Party leaders are afraid of former President Donald Trump, who will go down as instigator-in-chief of the Jan. 6 insurrection. Quite frankly, the party’s collective hollowness may be a weakness that eventually will lead to downfall unless Republicans embrace real democracy and shun the shiny thingamajigs of MAGA America.
Retired University of South Carolina historian Dan Carter, whose new book on white nationalism will come out soon, noted the plain language of sedition statutes should apply to more people involved in the Capitol attack. And they should apply to Trump, who watched for two hours “before finally issuing a tepid call for his followers to withdraw,” Carter told City Paper. “If any other citizen watched an assault on someone (in this case, the government of the United States) and did nothing for two hours, they would be subject to criminal sanction.”
But too many in Washington likely will do little to confront Trump for his misbehaviors. They’ll use his name in campaign ads. They’ll pray for his support. And in doing so, they’ll keep damaging the fabric of our country. Our Founding Fathers were made of sterner stuff and wouldn’t put up with such spinelessness. You shouldn’t either.
Now, more than ever, make your voice heard Nov. 8, one month from now.
Andy Brack is editor and publisher of the Charleston City Paper. Have a comment? Send to email@example.com.
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