Even before yesterday’s inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as the new President and Vice President of the United States, there were calls for unity—even empathy—and not just from Joe Biden. Such calls seemed very premature at the time, given the efforts of Trump and his allies to overturn the election result. With the failure of those efforts, despite a literal assault on the entire legislative branch incited by Trump resulting in five dead, such calls for unity and healing look even more naive.
Too many so-called conservatives (and some of those further left on the political spectrum) would rather put unity ahead of accountability. MAGA adherents and believers in the QAnon conspiracy theory essentially invaded the US Capitol and delayed the legislative branch from executing its responsibility to certify the Electoral College results at the urging of the president and his allies. They may have been aided and abetted in this insurrectionist act by multiple members of the GOP in both the Senate and the House. At least one shared the location of Speaker Pelosi on Twitter, as if to direct insurrectionists to her location. The wife of a Supreme Court justice may have funded the transportation to the Capitol for some of these insurrections. Even the death toll, the damage to the US Capitol, and the risk to their own lives did not prevent some Republicans from voting against certification of the Electoral College tally once the Capitol was secured.
Placing unity before accountability too many times before is what has led the country here. Unity before accountability killed Reconstruction, subjecting black Americans to almost another century of domestic terrorism, property theft, and subjugation at the hands of whites. The Nixon pardon, the Iran/Contra pardons, and the lack of accountability for those who engaged in torture and warrant less wiretapping of US citizens all placed unity before accountability. All of these actions paved the way for President Trump to be acquitted despite clear evidence that he tried to shake down the president of Ukraine in exchange for the announcement of an investigation into Hunter Biden.
Less than a year has elapsed between the Senate’s acquittal of Trump on two impeachment charges and the insurrection on January 6. Only a tiny number of GOP House members put their country ahead of their party in voting for a second impeachment. A second acquittal for Trump seems likely–and we will live to regret it.