As you read this, (hopefully) our new president will be at the helm. Martin Luther King Jr. said “there comes a time when silence is betrayal,” a quote that gives pause to what is ahead for us as we move on to better times.

There has been criticism of those speaking out, like Trump, willingly calling supporters to create anarchy in a last-ditch effort to retain power. They claim a stolen election, though 60-plus failed lawsuits and multiple Supreme Court rejections to hear the case because no credible evidence showed widespread fraud say it is not so. Three hand-recounts in Georgia produced similar vote totals to machines, but that has not quieted frenzied masses that still follow Trump’s assertion the election was rigged. The hand counts found two votes from deceased Georgians (both for Trump), hardly the kind of voter fraud Trump trumpeted when “asking” Georgia’s secretary of state to find him 11,800 votes. The narrative continues because there is little accountability for spreading false narratives.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell calls impeachment a “vote of conscience.” Some feel this second impeachment will divide people rather than the unity the new administration advocates. Others understand without a vote (accountability) the narrative continues.

There were lots of predictions four years ago but nobody thought his presidency would end with Trump kicked off Twitter and Facebook for spreading lies and fanning flames of a coup. This is step one in the process of accountability, and while some moan about First Amendment rights, others remind us there is a reason you can’t yell “fire” in a crowded movie theater or “bomb” in an airport when there isn’t one.

Demanding accountability on social media creates even footing with courts and mainstream media. There is a reason why 60 lawsuits were dismissed; people can assert things, doctor videos, and present snippets that support their theories on social media, but when in a courtroom, lying becomes perjury that ends in jail time. With mainstream media, lying collides with libel which results in loss of credibility and financial penalty. Meanwhile, spreading conspiracy theories on social media is as dangerous as gun fighting at the “OK Corral” back in the times of the Wild West.

Locally, Stephen Betts reported that the Knox County Republicans’ page on Facebook continues to support the false narrative of election fraud. Reckless at worst, dangerous at best, it is irresponsible at its core. Knox County Republican Chair Victoria Bucklin was quoted by Betts saying, “But we do know there was election fraud” after admitting she was not aware of any fraud at our local election level. She hung up when asked to explain where the fraud occurred or what her evidence was. Sharing some of the posts on her personal Facebook page she claimed, again without proof, the siege on the Capitol was Antifa-led which is not responsible. The Republican page is administered by Bucklin, Maynard Stanley Jr. and former state Rep. Paula Sutton.

On the other side, citizens clamor for vocalization denouncing what happened in the Capitol building. The criticism of Sen. Susan Collins for not condemning Trump leading up to the upcoming impeachment trial seems overzealous for those wanting revenge or accountability for the role that Trump’s rhetoric played in the insurgence.

You can’t have your cake and eat it too; McConnell’s “vote of conscience” should be the standard we set, not a pre-trial conviction. For Collins, or any senator to render judgment, before trial, is ludicrous – our 100 senators are the judges and jury in the upcoming trial so having them go on record, before the trial begins, is misguided. You don’t see a jurist saying before trial that the man/woman in front of them should be thrown in jail and the key thrown away.

So why vilify Collins and others who are doing their job to be fair and honest brokers of the truth? Accountability comes after trial, not before.

Trump’s accountability began on Nov. 3, 2020, when voted out of office, and continues with an approval rating that is an abysmal 29%. As he continues to pardon convicted felons and stumbles his way out of the White House, his loss of credibility, PGA tournaments, and upcoming lawsuits will provide closure to his four-year tenure as commander-in-chief.

If Republicans allow him a bully pulpit, he will continue to abuse it and Republicans will suffer. There seems little doubt Trump will disappear into the sunset, as have most past presidents; he is the “whack-a-mole” king. Not sure about what the future holds, but for Trump it will not be a boring night, by the fire, reading a book, with his beautiful trophy wife Melania.

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“The main problem in any democracy is that crowd-pleasers are generally brainless swine who can go out on a stage and whup their supporters into an orgiastic frenzy — then go back to the office and sell every one of the poor bastards down the tube for a nickel apiece.” — Hunter S. Thompson, American journalist and author (1937-2005)