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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 1/5/21

Will Trump Ignite His Reichstag Fire on January 6?

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"Either this nation shall kill racism, or racism shall kill this nation." (S. Jonas, August, 2018)

Fascism is so 1930s.  One can only wish that this saying were true. It isn't.
Fascism is so 1930s. One can only wish that this saying were true. It isn't.
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As is now well-known, the "Proud Boys" (who knows just what they are proud of) and assorted other Right-Wing Terrorist groups are planning major demonstrations in Washington, D.C., on and around January 6, 2021. At that time, according to the Constitution (a document with which they and various political figures associated with them, like Trump and various U.S. Trumpublican Senators and Representatives, seem not to be familiar) the electoral votes cast for President, which were certified by the 50 respective states back in December, are to be formally counted. (See BuzzFlash's"Mike Pence Should Not Preside Over Electoral Ballot Count on January 6: He Has an Inextricable Conflict of Interest" about Pence's flagrantly conflicted role in the "ceremony.")

As Marisa Lang, a correspondent for The Washington Post, has said: "DC is becoming a protest battleground. In a polarized nation, experts say that's unlikely to change." Violence is being threatened. For example, from the Lang article: "Neo-Nazis took to Telegram, an encrypted chat app that allows users to broadcast to a channel of subscribers, to encourage followers to attend, saying they need 'boots on the ground' to intimidate lawmakers and push for a nationalist agenda." And then, whaddaya know, Trump is "thinking about" addressing an assemblage of these group at the time which, under the Constitution and relevant law, Vice President Pence, as President of the Senate, is to begin opening the envelopes containing each state's certified electoral votes. We can consider at another time the various Constitutional/legal and non-Constitutional challenges of Trumpist Senators and Representatives to the outcome of the election. But the immediate issue here is what the "Proud Boys" et al, egged on by Trump, have been at least thinking about, in terms of some kind of violent protests around the Constitutional certification of the electoral vote.

On January 30, 1933 Adolf Hitler had been appointed Chancellor of Germany by the Weimar Republic President, Paul von Hindenburg. Although his government was very good at such things rounding up his most vocal opponents and putting them in "concentration camps," and shutting down opposition newspapers, they were not very good at dealing with the nation's many social and economic problems. And so, in February Hitler conspired to partially burn down the parliament building, the Reichstag, blamed it, and every other problem Germany faced, on the German Communist Party (a member of which was blamed for the fire), and then demanded that in order to fix everything (including of course doing away with any opposition), Hitler needed to have dictatorial powers. To do that, the Weimar Constitution, under which Hitler was still ruling, would have to be changed.

On March 23, 1933, in Berlin the Reichstag (parliament) was called into session to consider a motion for changing the Weimar Constitution to in effect make Hitler Dictator for Life. That required a 2/3's vote of the Reichstag members. After having had expelled the Communist Party members, Hitler was still not certain that he could get that 2/3's. And so, when the vote came to the floor, the Nazis surrounded the chamber and the remaining Deputies with armed Sturm Abteilung (SA, "Storm") troopers in uniform. Guess what? Hitler got his necessary 2/3's majority. One wonders if Trump and his own Storm Troopers (different from the SA only in that they do not [yet] all wear the same uniform) has in mind something along these lines.

Hopefully, of course, this will not happen (although if it does one wonders just how many of the Trumpist members of Congress will protest against it). Hopefully, between the District Police and the Capitol Police, perhaps aided by the National Guards from Virginia and Maryland (the DC National Guard being under Trump's control) any violence can be put down quickly, without loss of life, and property damage can be held to a minimum (e.g., they will not attempt to burn down the Capitol building). But be prepared for rioting at some level (and the fascist forces are already telling us that they plan to have some agent provocateur members dress as "antifa" to make it appear that the fascists are battling somebody, not US Constitutional Democracy).

And so, in the end, after all the declaiming by the Congressional Trumpists, with Hawley and Cruz for sure trying to get to the head of the pack for the 2024 Trumpublican Presidential nomination, after the possible violence by the self-proclaimed Trumpist Right-terrorists, on Jan. 20, at noon ET, Joe Biden will become President of the United States. And where will Trump be?

I have previously speculated that he will leave the country before that time, primarily to avoid all of the litigation he would be faced with after it. Now, I think that he will leave, but on a grand scale. After generating all the very loud noise about "election fraud," saying that "I was cheated, I have done so much for you, I will never be appreciated as I should be," he will go to a country which would be very happy to host the "US President in Exile" (that is until they caught up in his grifting in a major way, but that's another story). Among the candidates for such an "honor" are: Brazil, Hungary, Poland, The Philippines, Belarus (with Putin's blessing), Paraguay, or perhaps one of the Gulf States.

Far-fetched? Perhaps. But who would ever have thought that a multi-failure businessman with no knowledge of how government works, little education, no inquisitiveness (although much acquisitiveness), an open racist and not-at-all shy about it, and no previous government experience, could become President of the United States?


Addendum, Jan. 5, 2021. A) Trump has asked Pence to simply ignore the reported/certified electoral votes, when the formal Electoral Vote reporting session opens in the Congress on Jan. 6, 2021. Pence apparently will not be doing that, but through a spokesman he has said (same ref.): " 'Vice President Pence shares the concerns of millions of Americans about voter fraud and irregularities in the last election,' said Pence's chief of staff Marc Short in a statement over the weekend. 'The vice president welcomes the efforts of members of the House and Senate to use the authority they have under the law to raise objections and bring forward evidence before the Congress and the American people on January 6th.' " Apparently, the concerns of those millions of Americans who made Joe Biden President-Elect (winning both the popular vote, and more importantly the Electoral College, by substantial margins) are not Pence's concern. And they certainly aren't Trump's.

And of course, the Trumpite Republo-fascists, led by Cruz and Hawley, would, if they could (but they can't) push through a "voting-review" mechanism that is supported neither anywhere in the law and more importantly nowhere in those sections of the Constitution and subsequent Federal law that governs Presidential elections. But then again, fascism doesn't bother with either Constitutions or the laws written pursuant to it.

Further, numbers of observers are now talking about sedition and Trump in the same sentence. Here's one definition of sedition (

"A revolt or an incitement to revolt against established authority, usually in the form of Treason or Defamation against government. Sedition is the crime of revolting or inciting revolt against government [emphasis added]."

By the way, in the U.S. "treason" (also now being used by some observers in reference to Trump) as defined in the Constitution, applies only to acts taken against the government in league with a foreign power: Article III, Section 3: "Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort."


An earlier version of this column was published at: Click Here


Postscript (1-6-21): And lo and behold, what did we have today? The President of the United States, without saying so in so many words, actually encouraging his followers to do what they did, to the Capitol and the Congress. Some would call it, at a minimum incitement to riot. Others would call it sedition (see the definition above). It remains to be seen what the newly minted U.S. Attorney General, Judge Merrick Garland, will do about it, if anything.

(Article changed on January 6, 2021 at 03:05)

(Article changed on January 7, 2021 at 00:30)

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Steven Jonas, MD, MPH, MS is a Professor Emeritus of Preventive Medicine at StonyBrookMedicine (NY) and author/co-author/editor/co-editor of over 35 books. In addition to his position on OpEdNews as a "Trusted Author, he is a Senior (more...)
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