Editor’s note: The front page is normally reserved for news stories, not editorials or opinion. We are running this editorial on the front page because of the significance of Wednesday's events at the nation’s Capitol.
When rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol Wednesday afternoon, it was an attack on democracy. In encouraging it, President Donald Trump flirted with treason.
Earlier in the day, he urged protesters to go to the Capitol, show strength, take back the country, and never concede. Even in later remarks, when he urged protesters to go home in peace, Trump, in the same breath, threw gasoline on the fire by repeating unsubstantiated claims the election was stolen.
With the influence of the presidency, Trump, who appears increasingly irrational, could generate a lot of chaos and destruction in the two weeks leading up to the Jan. 20 inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th president of the United States.
To protect the nation, as well as preserve democracy and the union, Vice President Mike Pence has the Constitutional duty to invoke the 25th Amendment and begin to to take the extraordinary steps to remove Trump from office. Under the Constitution, Pence would then finish the term.
Trump’s refusal to accept the results of a democratic election, despite losing numerous court appeals, shows his lust for power overrides any concern for this country, its people, or the Constitution. Keeping him in office, as he becomes more desperate, is too great a risk.
Republican elected officials at all levels must uniformly condemn acts that, as Biden said, bordered on sedition, as well as the president who incited them. Simply appealing for calm and peace, as U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, R.-Butler, did Wednesday, isn’t enough.
Over the last two months, Trump has continued to play with fire. On Wednesday, it burned the nation, fanned by a small minority of supporters who have shown a penchant for violence, as well as an almost pathologic zeal to believe anything he says.
Few of us expected to watch, live, an insurrection at the Capitol Wednesday —but make no mistake, that’s what it was.
The sight of rioters, pushing through barriers that ringed the Capitol, tussling with officers in full riot gear, and casually occupying the Capitol floor, was jarring, almost shocking. Viewers might have wondered if they were watching a newsreel from another country.
With Trump in office, our nation is at risk.