The past two months have demonstrated that American democracy is not fragile, as so many people seem to be saying, but is rather remarkably durable, even in chaotic and challenging times.

The heroes of this durable democracy are the American citizens. In the midst of a pandemic they voted in record numbers, some waiting in line for five or six hours. Rather than shrinking in the face of danger to their health, they stood up and stepped forward.

Next to them are the men and women who administer our elections. Republican and Democratic officials worked tirelessly and honestly to count the votes and render true and accurate results. And then they stood their ground when attacked by a deranged president.

As for the courts, they stood for the rule of law and did not bow to the whims of a narcissistic megalomaniac. Many judges appointed by President Donald Trump stood for the Constitution and squarely against corrupt cronyism.

Yes, a minority of elected members of Congress tried to overturn the election as they pandered to, and cowered in front of, the worst president in American history. But they were strongly outvoted by men and women of principle from both parties.

The cancer on the body politic that has been Donald Trump has temporarily harmed our norms of decency and democracy. But the durable systems and processes that were created by our founders have served us well, and will continue to do so well into the future, if America's heroes — our citizens — remain vigilant.

Todd Otis, Minneapolis
• • •

The ancestors of the First Minnesota Infantry Regimen must be truly outraged that the flag they defeated at Gettysburg where they saved the Union was displayed in our Capitol. Where are the condemnations from our sitting representatives from our state? The idea that that flag was carried into the Capitol is an abomination. I'm surprised the protesters didn't take the time to hang portraits of Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee while they were there. Shameful, and an act of treason.

Chuck Justice, Woodbury
• • •

I think what we saw on Wednesday in our nation's Capitol was neither a coup attempt nor an insurrection. It could lead to either of these, however, and that is a great danger.

To pursue either a coup or insurrection, the leadership would have to pass from Trump to a leader intent upon taking over the government. Trump is not interested, at this point, in taking over the government by force and probably not even interested in remaining in office. He wants to look good in the moment by demonstrating his popularity, he wants to project an image of power suggesting that he could take over the government if he wanted to, and he wants to set himself up to run again in 2024 or control the Republican who does run.

The risk of insurrection is definitely there. Trump has put forces in motion that are grounded in radical philosophies of white supremacy and decentralized governance — forces that are fragmented but could coalesce around a charismatic leader at any moment. This sort of leader might nominally support Trump at first but would easily push him aside to control the movement.

Trump is too focused on himself — his image and his monetary gain — to invest himself in national leadership. He is available to be used and manipulated, but if a real insurrection arises I think he will quickly drop out and run for cover, overseas if possible.

The risk of insurrection is why we need to impeach or otherwise remove Trump from office as soon as possible. He is an incredibly weak link at the center of our government and makes the entire edifice of government vulnerable to takeover.

Frank Schweigert, St. Paul
• • •

The final death count for the insurgency at the United States Capitol on Jan. 6 is certain to exceed the five deaths cited in the Jan. 8 Star Tribune — one officer from injuries, one person from being shot and three others from medical emergencies ("Officer at Capitol dies from injuries"). With all the unmasked rioters at the Capitol in close proximity to each other, new cases of COVID-19 are destined to infect and possibly kill the protesters and/or people with whom they come in contact. Just one more way in which Trump, both by refusing to wear a mask and by inciting the insurgence, has demonstrated a total disregard for the well-being of anyone other than himself.

Lynn Strauss, Plymouth
• • •

Every decent American, every person who loves this country, is entitled to condemn the invasion of our Capitol on Wednesday. But no such decency or love exists on a Left that has sold its American soul.

The Left that has spent the last four years taking a knee against the flag of the United States cannot play patriot now. The Left that spent the summer burning and looting, with the waiver of a Martin Luther King quote, cannot demand order now. The Left that drove city police to the brink of extinction can't enforce it anyway. The Left that teaches schoolchildren that America is a white supremacist lie "founded on theft and slavery" has no American ideal to invoke, no American tradition to defend, and no American unity to summon against the Capitol rioters.

The Left that hates in the name of justice is no better than the Right that hates in the name of Trump. Rage has had its day. Now sense must have its way.

Charles Jolliffe, Edina
• • •

The rioters in Washington, D.C., this week justified their actions by saying, "This is the people's house." But I'm "the people," too, as are many others who were appalled by their attempted coup. How should we decide who really defines "the people" and has the right to dictate what happens in that building? I've got it! Let's have a vote!

Robert D. Victorin-Vangerud, Minneapolis
• • •

A few days ago if someone had said of President Trump, "He's only got a couple of weeks left; what harm can he do?" it would have been a rhetorical question. Now it's a very precise and urgent one.

John Sherman, Moorhead, Minn.
• • •

One good thing may come out of the occupation of the Capitol. Congress may see the consequences of playing games that polarize us and start working together for all Americans. Another positive is that Republicans may finally learn the Frankenstein story: Build a monster and it will turn on you.

Richard Weil, St. Paul

POTENTIAL SELF-PARDON

No more misuse of pardon power

Regarding "Trump's last pardon may go to himself" (front page, Jan. 8):

If the president does in fact pardon himself, and it is determined that the pardon is valid, then we must amend the Constitution to make sure that this self-dealing "get out of jail free" card is never used again.

To that end, it is long overdue that a president's use of a pardon should be strongly curtailed and restricted, if not completely removed. If the right of pardon is to be preserved, then the ability to pardon should be limited to the beginning of that president's term, not when they are walking out the door with little accountability.

I do not believe the framers ever intended the power of pardon would be used in the way that this current lame-duck, deeply flawed president has used it. They rolled in their graves on Jan. 6 and will again if the president pardons himself. I say let them sleep in peace.

David McCuskey, Orono

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