You may have forgotten about the National Guard troops deployed to Washington, D.C., in advance of the inauguration — mostly, I’d imagine, because you thought they were gone.
They’re not. While they were supposed to be drawn down, law enforcement had warned of a new threat from QAnon stragglers. Yes, these people still exist, apparently being a mixture of White House sedevacantists who believe Joe Biden is a usurper and people who still think this is All Part of The Plan and that Trump is still running things from Mar-a-Lago.
The rumor was that they were going to coalesce around the Capitol on March 4, the Inauguration Day originally set forth in the Constitution. That kind of delay between the election and inauguration was obviously the product of a different time and the last time a president was inaugurated on that date was in 1933.
Nevertheless, as The New York Times described it, there were apparently some in the Q community who saw March 4 “as the day Donald J. Trump would be restored to the presidency and renew his crusade against America’s enemies.”
In January, this threat was taken seriously enough that thousands of National Guard troops were asked to stay on in the nation’s capital until March 31, lest anything happen on March 4 (or the 27 days afterward, apparently).
Just in case you missed the news Thursday, literally nothing happened. As overhyped threats to democracy spearheaded by ultra-right-wing groups go, the historical Inauguration Day “threat” ended with more of a thud than the wild-eyed warning that armed militias would descend on all 50 state capitols before Inauguration Day.
Congress left town, the Capitol Police described nothing out of the ordinary and the major political story of the day continued to be the black-hole-like implosion of Andrew Cuomo’s personal and political lives.
So naturally, the Capitol Police want the National Guard in Washington for another 60 days.
Just in case the move didn’t seem political enough, it was announced Thursday by Michigan Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin, according to The Associated Press. Slotkin is a former CIA officer and, due to her intelligence background, is not infrequently trotted out by the party when it needs to impress upon all of us the grave threat that the zealotic Republican fringe poses.
“Congresswoman Slotkin stated on social media that the almost 5,000 troops deployed to the Capitol were scheduled to finish their mission on March 12, but with the recent warnings of militia groups threatening to return to D.C. March 4 through 6, that may change,” the AP reported.
The decision to extend the National Guard’s presence in Washington, D.C., was made in the past 36 hours, she said, and the Guard was working to get more troops into the nation’s capital.
And yet, Slotkin lamented the presence of the Guard and the fencing around the Capitol, saying she wanted a long-term plan to deal with threats to lawmakers.
“We want to understand what the plan is,” she said. “None of us like looking at the fencing, the gates, the uniformed presence around the Capitol. We can’t depend on the National Guard for our security.”
I am hearing from contacts at the National Guard that the U.S. Capitol Police have asked for a 60-day extension of the Guard’s mission in and around the Capitol, and that the Guard is soliciting states to send contributions.
— Rep. Elissa Slotkin (@RepSlotkin) March 4, 2021
To be clear: Slotkin herself had nothing to do with requesting the extension. However, her response to the continued presence of National Guard troops in Washington, D.C., is a symptom of the wider problem of military theater in the wake of the Capitol incursion.
In the particular case of the “historic Inauguration Day” threat, not only did it not materialize, but authorities also knew in advance it was never going to materialize.
From The New York Times, not given to understating the supposed threat shirtless Proud Boy degenerates in war paint (or whatever) pose to our democracy:
“Some federal officials described the threats as more ‘aspirational’ than operational. The militia group was not named, and even many influential QAnon followers, who believe the United States is dominated by a cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophiles, have cast March 4 as a ‘deep state’ plot to incite the movement’s adherents and provoke a nationwide crackdown.”
And while taking Q-obsessed carbon-wasters at face value is a difficult thing, it’s clear the remaining influencers within the movement planned to stay away from any sort of action on March 4 and were urging others to do the same:
More QAnon influencers have come out against the March 4 conspiracy theory, with these influencers suggesting it’s some kind of set up against QAnon supporters. pic.twitter.com/AKB1aGodx2
— Alex Kaplan (@AlKapDC) February 24, 2021
So, after not having any National Guard troops present at the Capitol on Jan. 6 due to a confluence of errors that have led to plenty of finger-pointing, we stationed over 25,000 Guardsmen in the 68-square-mile District of Columbia for Inauguration Day.
According to 2020 numbers from The Washington Post, that’s more soldiers than we had in Iraq and Afghanistan combined.
While those numbers have diminished, there’s no inauguration to be had. The only major threat on the radar — the fact the desiccated remnant of the QAnon rabble believed Donald Trump would be reinstalled March 4, but apparently needed their help — turned out to be complete bunk.
These thousands of National Guardsmen, who have families and jobs back at home, are being used as a form of theater by Democrats to remind us how dangerous the Trump years were.
It’s like how your mom used to say, “This is why we can’t have nice things” after you broke something around the house. The problem here, however, is that scolding involves lives, money and the specter of militarizing our nation’s capital indefinitely.
It’s not that we should treat this as a surprise. In February, DCist reported National Guard troops might be in Washington until the fall. Why? Don’t go expecting concrete answers.
The failures that led to the Capitol incursion are now being used as a pretext to keep D.C. militarized, with every new crackpot Telegram-spread theory a justification to extend their presence. They weren’t needed Thursday, they aren’t needed today and they won’t be needed 60 days from now.
It isn’t just that enough is enough. Enough was enough months ago.
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