As I See It: We have unfinished business

Sept. 11, 2001, we experienced a foreign attack on symbols of America. Jan. 6, 2021, we experienced a domestic attack on our very republic. We have unfinished business.

Our founders had hoped to avoid faction, the political division into parties. Unity ended with second President Federalist John Adams. The third, Thomas Jefferson was troubled by the conservatives of his day. Conservatives had formed a party called the Federalists. Jefferson’s party was called Republican, but it is the ancestor of today’s Democrats. For a while it was called the Democratic Republicans. Today’s Republican party formed when the Federalist’s successor Whig party collapsed. There was a lot of strife in the early days, fistfights broke out in Congress, Alexander Hamilton was killed by Vice President Aaron Burr in a duel.

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Conservative has had different meanings historically. The conservatives of Jefferson’s day did not have confidence in the people’s ability to govern themselves. Some thought only a king would have the necessary strength. There was even a faction that propose recruiting a prince from one of the royal houses of Europe. Some wanted to name George Washington King but he objected and set the precedent of two terms. That precedent lasted nearly two hundred years and only Franklin Roosevelt has been elected more than twice. He was given credit for ending the great depression, which made him extremely popular. He presided during World War II that we were winning. Wartime presidents tend to get re-elected. The 22nd Amendment prohibits being elected president more than twice.

Four of the first five presidents were slave owners from Virginia, but they were also the ones committed to a democratic republic according to the Constitution. The Adams’s had doubts. Southerners believed strongly in states’ rights, they argued states could nullify federal laws they disagreed with, like some governors today. They particularly disagreed with northern effort to end slavery. Slave owners had power. Many in the South believed that their citizenship and loyalty was first to their state and only incidentally to the United States. Some still do. They took it so far that in 1860, South Carolina declared secession from the union and April 12, 1861, fired cannons at Fort Sumter, starting the Civil War. Even after the war Texas planters ignored the 13th amendment until Grant sent the army to enforce it on Juneteenth (June 19, 1865).

A small faction in our country favors the idea of something like a monarchy. A president with greater, perhaps absolute, powers, perhaps no term limits. Some even propose a virtual dynasty or inherited succession, a system that worked so well in Europe from the dark ages until the Marshal plan; except for the perpetual wars. In traditional wars victory was capturing the enemy’s capitol. Jan. 6 was such an attempt.

Our system, with all its imperfections has endured for since 1790 in spite of slavery and abolition, invasion in 1812, a Civil War, Jim Crow, two World Wars, countless lesser wars, recessions, the great depression, the Cold War, six impeachments, four assassinations plus a few failed assassinations, contested elections, prohibition, 9/11 and so far, Jan. 6.

Perhaps the most serious threat to the Constitution was the invasion of the Capitol building. The insurrection was so chaotic that the number of insurgents has not been reliably estimated; possibly 10,000, armed mostly with improvised or commandeered weapons, plus a few firearms. Hundreds of Metro Police officers responded to support the Capitol police and other federal officers. They felt completely outnumbered and overwhelmed.

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A few Congressmen deny the reality of the hours of video we have all seen. Let them answer why. If it was a normal day, why they were hiding under the furniture or being escorted to safe rooms? Why did people die? Why did not one lawmaker attempt to reason with the invaders? Can they explain away the $30 million in damages? The apparent objective was to cancel a system we spent 232 years perfecting and install as “president’ someone favored by an angry mob. There is no constitutional mechanism to accomplish that. If they took control, what was the next step in the plan; a coronation, like Napoleon’s?

Ken Obenski is a forensic engineer, now safety and freedom advocate in South Kona. Send feedback to obenskik@gmail.com