On Insurrection and Overturning Elections

Former President Trump has now explicitly stated that he aimed on overturning the 2020 election.
Trump delivered a speech at a rally in Conroe, Texas, on Saturday, 29 January 2022. “Mike Pence did have the right to change the outcome, and they now want to take that right away,” Mr. Trump said. “Unfortunately, he didn’t exercise that power, he could have overturned the election!”

The New York Times reports: “The statement was the first time Mr. Trump described his goal as overturning an election. But Mr. Trump’s statement also included his usual false assertions about election fraud, suggesting he does not believe the election was legitimate.”

Former President Trump speaking on 29 January 2022. Photo: New York Times.

The former President’s statement indicates clearly his own intent to overturn the 2020 election, effectively overthrowing the entire electoral system and subverting the Constitution of the United States.

This revelation comes as prosecutions of militia group members move forward on charges of seditious conspiracy related to the Storming of the U.S. Capitol on 6 January 2021.

Political analysts, journalists, and pundits continue to debate whether or not the United States is heading toward civil war. The increasing cases of civil violence are undeniable, and this debate is largely shaped by misperceptions of the nature of civil conflict. Many observers in the United States continue to define all civil conflict through comparisons with the American Civil War—a sectional conflict involving a separatist movement built around a regional wing of a political party in order to defend a slave regime built on an institutionalized legal system and economy.

There are, of course, many other forms of civil conflict.

Indeed, the United States has experienced waves of civil violence in diverse forms throughout its history: colonial war, massacres, ethnic conflict, revolutionary war, guerilla warfare, rebellion, sedition, racial terrorism, lynchings, race riots, strikes, union busting campaigns, political assassinations, ideological conflict, religious conflict, church bombings, and more.

It is time to take the reality of civil violence seriously and consider the potential for further civil conflict.

As trials of sedition unfold, Trump’s own words already show that the path of responsibility leads ultimately to the Oval Office. Former President Trump and members of his administration clearly had the intent of overturning an election and remaining in power. Their impunity would be the worst possible result for the nation’s political system.

My undergraduate students at Northern Illinois University have been studying the history of civil conflict comparatively in my course Communal Strife: Civil Wars in World History. I hope that they are continuing to utilize the different interpretations of civil conflict that we studied in considering civil violence in the United States.

The New York Times reports on former President Trump’s speech.

This entry was posted in Civil Conflict, Comparative Revolutions, History of Violence, Political Activism and Protest Culture, Political Culture, Revolts and Revolutions, Terrorism, United States History and Society, War, Culture, and Society. Bookmark the permalink.

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