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Opinion: Defeating Trumpism will be a slog

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi displays the signed article of impeachment against President Trump on Jan. 13.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi displays the signed article of impeachment against President Trump on Wednesday.
(Associated Press)

Good morning. I’m Paul Thornton, and it is Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021. By the time you read this, California will have given COVID-19 vaccine doses to more than 1 million people, a seemingly large number that accounts for a paltry 2.5% of the state’s population. Let’s take a look back at the week in Opinion.

This is it, dear readers — the final Opinion newsletter of Donald Trump’s term. I have to admit: I’ve been thinking about this day for years, wondering what it would feel like to assemble one of the many political obituaries for this administration, imagining that I would feel something between cautious optimism and full-blown exuberance.

The truth is, I’ve never been more worried by the state of Trumpism — and the ascendant white supremacist movements and violent insurrections it energized — than right now, just days before Joe Biden’s inauguration. Perhaps it has something to do with the letter I recently edited from a Holocaust survivor who warned that, like the Nazis in 1930s Germany, the Trumpists of today could regain power in the absence of renewed vigilance aided by better education.

Setting back, if not defeating, Trump’s authoritarian movement is a key reason that the Senate should vote to convict Trump on the “incitement of insurrection” charge used by the House to impeach this president for a second time, even if it does so after Biden’s inauguration, writes The Times Editorial Board. Columnist Virginia Heffernan calls for a more expansive inquiry — a “1/6 Commission” meant not to bring the MAGA rioters to justice, but to “do nothing but inform us,” in the hope that illuminating the facts will help prevent another violent attack on American democracy.

This doesn’t bring the cinematic, definitive ending to the Trump administration that many of us surely wanted; rather, it’s more akin to a long unwinding of this presidency, one better suited to ensuring some semblance of order and peace, even if it isn’t immediately satisfying. In other words, this will almost certainly not be the final Opinion newsletter that focuses on Trump.

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Trump’s defenders are trying to blame Black people for the Capitol riot. The white supremacist mob that descended on Washington last week and tried to overthrow American democracy had been groomed by this president and his enablers for years, and yet the House Republicans who spoke in opposition to impeachment fingered Black Lives Matter and Antifa protestors as causing the violence. It’s “as if challenging the votes from predominantly Black districts wasn’t enough,” writes columnist LZ Granderson. L.A. Times

Move over, James Buchanan. The heretofore worst president in U.S. history, who spent years appeasing slavery expansionists only to watch southern states secede before Abraham Lincoln took office, will surely be knocked aside by Trump once academics have a chance to fully digest the last four years, writes historian Joseph J. Ellis: “On several occasions, Trump has suggested that he expects to take his place on the list of former presidents aside Abraham Lincoln, presumably knocking George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and all the others in the top rank down a tick. To put it politely, he needs to adjust his expectations.” L.A. Times

Kevin McCarthy is the biggest hypocrite in Congress. The top House Republican, who up until the president’s second impeachment had kissed up to Trump at every turn, evidently understands that he desperately needs to change his tune if he wants to avoid being linked by historians to one of the worst, most destructive White Houses in history. So, yeah, says columnist Nick Goldberg, the Bakersfield Republican’s pleas for unity and calm ring a little hollow. L.A. Times

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Democrats, stop calling the campaign to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom a “coup.” We should all be watching our language right now — especially our political language — and implying that the legal yet ill-advised effort to remove Newsom from power amounts to an unlawful usurpation is a poorly timed provocation, says the editorial board: “Like it or not, California’s system of direct democracy provides a process for recalling sitting governors and other elected officials, and that is what is underway. That’s no ‘coup,’ but it’s no joke either.” L.A. Times

California’s healthcare system is efficient, effective and totally ill-equipped to handle a pandemic. The state is experiencing a crippling coronavirus surge, but that’s only part of the reason hospitals in California are filled beyond capacity. Medical care here prioritizes treating patients outside a hospital setting with community-based primary care providers, a system that works pretty well 98% of the time but is utterly failing California residents right now. A lack of help from the federal government also doesn’t help. The Atlantic

Stay in touch.

If you’ve made it this far, you’re the kind of reader who’d benefit from subscribing to our other newsletters and to the Times.

As always, you can share your feedback by emailing me at paul.thornton@latimes.com.


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