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Editorial: Donald Trump's words a national disgrace; it's time to concede

The Detroit News

Wednesday was among the presidency's darkest days.

Not since Richard Nixon stepped onto that helicopter on the White House grounds in 1974 has the office been laid so low.

While Nixon did the right thing that August day in resigning ahead of impeachment and allowing the nation to move on, Donald Trump on Wednesday barely skirted the edge of inciting a violent coup in his desperate attempt to cling to an office voters so clearly denied him.

With the White House in the background, President Donald Trump speaks at a rally Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington.

Some in the crowd at the dubiously named Save America rally in Washington took up his thinly veiled call for insurrection and stormed past armed police officers and into the Capitol, where the process of certifying the Electoral College vote was underway. Members had to be evacuated in a scene more fitting a backwater dictatorship than the world's most stable Republic. One person was shot. 

The fault lies entirely with Trump. His rhetoric during the rally was inciteful, and came after weeks of his stoking the false narrative that the election was rigged and stolen from him and his supporters. Now, the nation could well explode.  

Pro-Trump supporters storm the U.S. Capitol following a rally with President Donald Trump on January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC.

His performance was befitting his presidency, which has been crude, undisciplined and self-serving. Trump has always placed his own interest ahead of the nation's.

Before Trump, it would have been impossible to imagine an American president, the most powerful person in the Free World, leading an angry mob in a chant of "Bulls--t, Bulls--t" as if they were fans protesting a call in a football game.

What did he expect to happen? 

Perhaps the most unsettling part is that it didn't entirely shock us. It's what we've come to expect from America's crudest and least dignified president.

This, however, was different than the standard bombastic Trump display because of the foundational consequences of a president denying the validity of the American electoral system and boldly stating his unwillingness to abide by the outcome.

Trump flat-out labeled President-elect Joe Biden "illegitimate" and repeated the unsubstantiated claim that the Nov. 3 election was rigged.

"We will never give up, we will never concede," he pledged.

Trump devoted a large segment of the speech to denigrating those Republicans such as Mitt Romney and Liz Cheney who refused to play along with his irrational denial of reality.

Police with guns drawn watch as protesters try to break into the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington.

He also tried to bully Vice President Mike Pence, an honorable man, into tossing away the Constitution and declaring the electoral votes of several states invalid. To his credit, Pence, even as Trump was speaking, issued a letter stating he'd do no such thing.

Trump swore to uphold the Constitution, and yet now is encouraging his loyalists to ignore that document and do whatever it takes to illegally keep him in power.

Trump was given by the American people a rare and treasured honor — the privilege of serving them as president and entrusting him with the care of this precious nation. He has abused that trust over and over.

The time has come for him to do the right thing. He must recognize the danger of continuing to agitate a public that is hurting and divided. 

He must see the real possibility of an escalation of the chaos and violence seen Wednesday. It is a serious matter when the government of the United States is sent packing by its own citizens. That should be sobering both for the president, and for those Republicans who stood by him in disputing the election.  

On Jan. 20, the Constitution calls for a peaceful transition of power to a new administration. By his sworn oath, Trump has an obligation to ensure that transfer is indeed peaceful. 

He must stop agitating his supporters, condemn their violence and, despite his vow, concede and give up this hopeless and dangerous crusade.