Hillary Clinton referred to them as “deplorables.” President Donald Trump called them “these disgusting people.”
The synonyms the Merriam-Webster dictionary lists for the word “deplorable” include contemptible, despicable, mean, nasty, grubby, ratty and scummy.
Whether called deplorables or disgusting people, they showed up in force Jan. 6 to mug our nation’s capital in a futile attempt to thwart democracy. Judging from their looks and behavior, the dictionary definition of “deplorable” is quite accurate.
They were a mob of carnivalesque vandals, intoxicated with riotous rage, parading about the halls of Congress waving Trump flags, yelling, looting and smashing federal property in a treasonous tantrum.
This wasn’t just another noisy mob of misguided MAGA morons cheering on their crazed chieftain, Trump. This time it was a violent free-for-all incited by Trump who had appeared before them that day and exhorted them to march on the Capitol.
And that they did, immediately, like obedient dogs.
The Capitol building was sacked, five people died, including one police officer killed by a projectile thrown from the mob. Dozens were injured, some seriously.
The FBI has warned that the greatest terrorist threat to America is from domestic right-wing extremists.
The websites of these extremist groups were used to rally followers for the assault on the Capitol. The discussions on these sites leave little doubt about the level of violence that these perverted “patriots” were prepared to employ in their siege.
These extremist groups have become Trump’s Brownshirts — his street thugs easily misled and incited. They respond to his malicious tweets like dogs to the “sic ’em!” command, and they were among those leading the assault on the Capitol.
Why Capitol security was so lax and ill prepared to protect the very heart of our democratic republic is suspiciously curious and deeply disconcerting.
Had ISIS only known how easily our Capitol could be taken, it could have placed murder cells into the MAGA mob to invade the House of Representatives and Senate chambers and slaughter elected officials, staff and bystanders.
In the aftermath of the Capitol attack incited by Trump, some of his staunchest supporters in Congress, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.; Vice President Mike Pence; and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., were shaken enough to publicly express their shock, dismay and disgust with Trump.
These Republicans couldn’t have imagined Trump capable of this heinous act? They couldn’t foresee that their Frankenstein monster with its defective brain could easily rampage out of control?
And so, here we come to the heart of the matter.
Certainly not all Trump voters are goons and buffoons like those who trashed and terrorized the Capitol, nevertheless, millions of them suspend reason and reject reality to believe his big lie that a massive multistate conspiracy of voter fraud is why he lost the 2020 election.
Even those Trump supporters with enough probity to condemn the disgusting display of anarchy at the Capitol refuse to fault Trump — or themselves — for what happened.
Indeed, almost immediately after the sacking of the Capitol they quickly concocted spurious conspiracy theories that shifted the blame for the debacle onto leftist extremists and even onto the Democratic Party.
Delusion is an equal and opposite reaction to reality.
Other, less credulous, Trump voters support him for ideological and policy reasons. Many of them, no doubt, quietly approve of the attempt to disrupt the democratic process in order to keep him in office.
It is fine to hold conservative views and espouse conservative principles and policies that can be defended with facts and logic. And, good, rational people can have policy disagreements, but supporting a man like Trump is not a mere policy disagreement.
It is an abandonment of decency and reason.
Trump’s abysmal character flaws and disturbing behavior are readily apparent to all but those lost in self-delusion or dedicated to depraved selfishness.
What happened at our nation’s capital on Jan. 6 is appalling but should be no surprise to anyone who has objectively observed Trump’s behavior over the past four years. It was practically predictable.
The ransacking of the Capitol was the grand finale of Trump’s ongoing degradation of our nation. Inciting his mad minions to march on Congress to prevent a democratic process confirming his election loss is the natural regression of an unethical, now dangerously desperate, narcissist who has lied and cheated his way through life.
Trump didn’t suddenly become unfit for the office of president with this incitement to insurrection; he has been unfit from his inauguration day in 2017.
Those who ignored his many egregious character flaws and rationalized his impulsive and destructive behavior, his pathological mendacity, and his lethal incompetence are the crux of the problem.
People who voted for Trump in 2016 might be excused. Maybe they preferred Bernie Sanders to Clinton and were casting a protest vote. Maybe they held their nose and voted for Trump hoping the majesty of the office would transform him into someone worthy of it.
Maybe they were Republican Party loyalists who vote for anyone their party puts on the ballot.
But, voting for Trump a second time was inexcusable. Those who did so bear some responsibility for all the destructive, degrading consequences that electing such a man has wrought on our nation — culminating in the sacking of our Capitol on Jan. 6.
After four years of his constant lying and his relentless, vicious, calumnious attacks on the free press, on the courts, on federal law enforcement, on the intelligence agencies, on the military, and on anyone or anything, including democratic institutions, that don’t show sufficient servility to him; after abusing the power of the presidency to pressure a foreign government to do him a personal favor; after his gross incompetence, negligence and blatant dishonesty with the COVID-19 pandemic that has made America the world’s leader in infections and deaths; after all of this (and that’s the short list), anyone who voted for him a second time is complicit in degrading our constitutional democracy and in the disgraceful debacle that occurred at the Capitol.
I have often said that Trump supporters are dissolute or so hopelessly delusional that no amount of factual evidence, logic or cogent argument will ever convince them they are wrong. I have condemned them as unsalvageable to reason and decency.
But, when presented with new evidence or a better argument I will change my mind and admit when I have been mistaken. After all, that only increases wisdom and gets one closer to the truth.
That said, my categorical condemnation of Trump supporters is mistaken. There are decent people among them who can recover.
The day after the assault on the Capitol, a woman from Iowa called into an NPR program and tearfully confessed to voting for Trump and expressed deep remorse for doing so. She realized how badly she had been duped. The assault on our Capitol had shaken her enough to break the spell of Trumpism.
Clearly then, not all Trump supporters are beyond redemption to reason and decency — but I remain doubtful that there are many who will awaken from the spell.
So, prove me wrong, Trump supporters. Repent your vote for Trump — then “go, and sin no more.”
— Randy Alcorn is a Santa Barbara political observer. Contact him at email@example.com, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.