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Trumpists Commit Supreme Crime Against Democracy… and I’m Thinking About Matt Michels

I seem to recall that, back in 2017, when the South Dakota Senate prepared to offend democracy by repealing Initiated Measure 22, there was some hint of protest from the gallery. I may be misremembering this, and I can’t find a blog post specific to this memory or the day it would have happened (January 26 or February 2), but I seem to remember Lieutenant Governor Matt Michels, serving in his Constitutional role as President of the Senate, roared, “No!!!” with stunning force at the nascent protestors.

I also recall at the time thinking that the response seemed uncharacteristic of the usually jovial L.G. Michels and disproportionately rageful in response to a potential vocal protest coupled maybe with the throwing of fake money to symbolize voters’ displeasure with legislators’ repealing the Anti-Corruption Act.

But today listening to the awful news of the violent insurrection Donald Trump incited today in our nation’s Capitol, that memory of 2017 comes back, and I find myself saying, “Hey, Matt, I see where you were coming from.”

In our democracy (or, for you technical sophists who want to evade the most pressing issue and historical lesson of this day, that Donald Trump loves people who do violence to our Constitutional government, in our republic), our Capitols, state and national, are our most sacred shrines. They shelter and symbolize the most sacred activity of our social contract: the gathering of citizens to establish the rules under which we shall all live and to decide those rules by reason and evidence, not by the violence of the alternative, anarchy. There is room on our Capitols for vigorous argument and protest. The halls and lobbies of our Capitols should always be open for all citizens to come in, find their elected officials, and give them two earsful.

But when we enter the Senate and the House, the actual chambers where our representatives translate our will into the law that shall govern us all, we are in church. We are in a place that must be sacred to every participant in our democracy. We must accept that, for all the freedom the First (emphasize that word in a democracy) Amendment guarantees us to make our arguments in the press, at the crackerbarrels, on the blogs, on the phone, and face to face with our legislators in the lobby, our freedom to enter, not to mention speak, ends at the chamber door. Our laws, our Constitution, our deep commitment to this kind of social contract, demands that we yield that holy governing space to those who have been granted access to it by our legal processes.

When we disagree with the actions our elected representatives are taking, we do not storm our Capitol. We do not vandalize our Capitol. We do not stop the sacred deliberations and actions that take place in our Capitol. If we want to drive our elected representatives from their seats, we do it at the next election, by campaigning and winning by reason and evidence, not by violence.

Our commitment to representative democracy thus demands the highest decorum in the sacred spaces where democracy happens. A breach of that decorum (and the last four years have been rife with breaches of decorum—Donald Trump started inciting today’s insurrection years ago) invites further breaches, bullying, thuggery, and violence like what we saw today in our nation’s Capitol.

Again, I may be misremembering that 2017 Senate Session. I’ve certainly not talked about it with Matt Michels himself. But I get the feeling now that, back in 2017, Senate President Michels caught a whiff of that disrespect for democracy. That scent mingled with his own party’s disrespect for democracy. The protest that might have erupted from the gallery stemmed directly from the disrespect the legislators were about to show by repealing a law approved just three months prior by the voters.

But the potential was there, and Senate President Michels shut it down, as swiftly and forcefully as he could… with his voice. He used a word and a tone and an expression that made clear that no matter how we feel about the matters under deliberation, that deliberation must take place. Our elected representatives must have their say and cast their votes, and we must accept those votes as law, until we can either persuade those representatives to vote differently, or until we can replace those representatives at the next election.


You do not storm the Capitol.


You do not threaten elected representatives and the public servants working for us in the Capitol.


You do not smash windows or carry traitor flags or seize the Senate dais by force to shout your lies and calls for overthrow of democracy.


Democracy is sacred. We must keep it whole and strong. We must never again allow the sort of violence that took place against all of us today in the United States Capitol.

NO. Never again.

We must speak Matt Michels’s NO forcefully, to all who perpetrated today’s violence, to all who encouraged it, and to all who failed to speak against it.


  1. grudznick 2021-01-06 18:41

    Hear! Hear!

  2. Chad 2021-01-06 19:51

    Well written, Corey! I am sad for America, the country I have fought for, today.

  3. DaveFN 2021-01-06 21:49

    One abdicates one’s personal rights and relinquishes them to their elected, their representatives, those who are their legal stand-ins. We see a symptomatic failure today of education of American citizens on such fundamental facts of our Constitutional democracy when individuals usurp that which is the property of their representatives. A representative republic requires individual submission to their elected representatives, submission being a dirty word to the misguided, the latter who mistakenly think they are and should be in direct control. There are none so unpatriotic as those in defiance —deliberately or indirectly so—of these facts.

  4. leslie 2021-01-06 22:18

    B1bs powering up at EAFB, it sounds like in RC at 9:15pm.

  5. buckobear 2021-01-07 00:33

    Now we know who and what party are the real threat to our demcracy and community.

  6. happy camper 2021-01-07 03:32

    These are not Republicans. A few years back Cory concluded Tea Party Republicans were simply Republicans. No, they never were. Each party has been infiltrated by radicals that can no longer be controlled by Congressional leadership but the “Don’t Tread On Me” crowd found the perfect demagogue in Donald Trump to play their emotions. There are millions of them across the country, they carry guns, they aren’t going away just because Biden has taken office. They cannot be dismissed, nor Trump’s further actions. Everything Trump’s niece said has come to pass. He’s a narcissistic psychopath who can’t tolerate losing. Every member of Republican leadership bears blame, but at the moment solutions are the only thing that matter. Trump initiated the mob, he’s a traitor, but had they been shot and killed on capital grounds it may have started a civil war. The correct amount of restraint is necessary because Trump is the only one with influence over this group, and he’s still Commander and Chief. Would an attempt to remove him only cause further recrimination? McConnell probably knows, he acknowledged this was the most important vote of his career before the mob attack, he has a caucus he cannot control, because once again these are not Republicans. We’re going to have to trust top leadership of both parties to do the right thing. The next 12 days will be a very dangerous time, and still dangerous afterward, until this maniac and his minions have been subdued.

  7. Mark Anderson 2021-01-07 05:44

    How to respond to yesterday, oh let me count the ways, or rather just steep in the joy I feel at watching idiots be idiots and having Eric (hardly the viking) threaten the surrender caucus. The GOP is finally reaping the whirlwind of their seeding for decades and it’s destroying them. The real news is that Democrats control all three branches of governance and that’s a fact. Have a great day, I am.

  8. leslie 2021-01-07 07:10

    Happy: These are not Republicans.

    Really? Think that’s gonna work? Until yesterday Mitch McConnell has been the top Republican supporting Trump’s baseless lawsuit. NPR 6:10 am.

    Chad: Thanks Chad!

  9. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-01-07 07:17

    Hap, whoever they are, the Republican Party is playing to them, encouraging them, and contributing to the violence we saw yesterday. I give them no sympathy, no quarter. We must govern now with passion, empathy, and a determination to rebuild democracy. Those who want to help are welcome. Those who don’t had better get out of the way.

  10. Howard Valandra 2021-01-07 07:29

    This is a message sent to the SD congressional republicans Senators Thune and Rounds and Representative Johnson:
    Well after watching the take over of the capital building causing your colleagues and you to be taken to a safe place I wonder if this is the end game President Trump and the republicans sought; the downfall of the rule of law. Hopefully you will drop the bucket of nonsense you being carrying for the President and do the right acts. I hope.

  11. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-01-07 07:50

    As I suggest in my parentheses in paragraph #4, the “republic not a democracy” distinction has little if any bearing on our moral assessment of the crime committed yesterday by Donald Trump and his fellow insurrectionists. I will entertain the argument that our technical status as a republic should make the crime even worse, as a crime of the mob against its duly elected representatives… duly elected, let us not forget, on exactly the same ballots that Trump and his insurrectionists claim are fake.

  12. Moses6 2021-01-07 08:19

    Well lets see if Photo op and slick Mike are going to to try and stop Garland from becoming attorney general.These Senators should have spoken up months ago about Trump.Were they scared of Trump.Evidentlty they put themselves over country.They will be remembered for this in history and even Dusty.

  13. Donald Pay 2021-01-07 09:15

    Your thesis is good as far as it goes. However, state and the national Capitol buildings have different laws and norms that govern such public spaces. I have participated in numerous protests in Wisconsin’s Capitol Building. There is a long history of such protests going back more than a century. The Wisconsin Capitol Building has been open to such public protest except for brief periods in my time here after 9-11, during the Act 10 protests and now during the Covid pandemic. The Act 10 uprising was largely about the Republican Legislature cutting off debate prematurely, refusing to take all public testimony, closing the Capitol Building to the public and ramming a law through that had very little debate. In that case, the public was protesting the breakdown in the sacred values by the Republican Legislature and Governor.

    In South Dakota the Capitol Building is rarely used for protest. The Right to Life folks have an annual rally that is fairly tame and is usually held on a weekend. I recall during the farm crisis in the 1980’s there was a protest at the Capitol Building. Of course, during legislative floor sessions, decorum must be maintained. That’s true in every state.

    I participated in many citizen lobbying events at the National Capitol complex during the 1990’s. I was surprised at how open it was. I’m sure it tightened up after 9-11, but I was able to wander around quite freely. I never saw any groups actively protesting within the complex, though I saw several small groups protesting outside and in nearby parks. I assume that the laws and norms govern when and where protest can happen in DC as in Pierre and Madison, WI.

    Despite my disgust with the kooks at the Stop the Steal rally, they do have a right to protest. The rally was fine, but what they did afterward at the direction of Ill Duce was inexcusable. There must be consequences. There should be arrests and Trump should be ushered out of the Presidency pronto.

    What’s sacred in this regard depends on your particular location. Protest in one space may be considered a faux pas in another. It’s important to know and follow the rules and norms. Trump and his followers don’t give a damn and that has been so detrimental to our sacred democracy.

  14. W R Old Guy 2021-01-07 10:24

    I see some reports this morning saying that there were no Trump supporters involved in the storming of the Capitol.

    They were all liberals and Antifa terrorists disguised as Trump supporters.

    The sad part is that some people will believe it.

  15. mike from iowa 2021-01-07 10:46

    They weren’t all antifa libs.. The dead magat was a 14 year AF vet from San Diego who fervently supported drumpf’s armed insurrection. Her hubby, left in San Diego said he had noi idea why she went this time.

    I am with Donald Pay and drumpf should be removed and/or worse, but it all gets back to wingnuts refusing to hold him accouintable and you know they sure as hell won’t this time. The whole party stinks of asnti-Americanism and corruption.

  16. Mark Anderson 2021-01-07 11:20

    W R I just put on my Antifa long sleeve t shirt, its in Celtic so when I walk and wave to my trumper neighbors there’s no problem. I’m also retired so my Soros commenting helps pay the bills.

  17. jerry 2021-01-07 11:38

    These traitors need to be tried and punished, starting with trump. Good news is that they were all maskless so we have good pictures of them. Lock’m up for armed sedition. We actually have laws on the book for that.

  18. jerry 2021-01-07 11:42

    Hal Holbrook, the trumper in charge of Pennington County traitors, is all in on ignorance.

    “The chair of the Pennington County Republicans has openly advocated for and is in support of the president of the United States violating the Constitution. He also supports the POTUS in his violation of federal election law. Did they not teach government when he was in school?” Rapid City Journal Two Cents 1.7.21

    With old idiots at the lead, what else can we expect but sedition. Dude should shut he hell up and wither away.

  19. Donald Pay 2021-01-07 11:50

    There’s no doubt a lot of the insurrectionists will be identified and held accountable. There’s lots of video with their mugs plainly visible. I’m sure the Capitol Building has their own security cameras, as well.

    They ID-ed many of the law breakers in the the Black Lives Matter Protests, and most of them were just dipsticks, petty criminals or people who got caught up in the emotion of the moment. Of course those folks were mostly teens and young adults. Many of the folks in the DC insurrection were clearly older adults involved, not with antifa, but with Trump and far right extremist movements.

    It will probably be easier to jail these kooks because they didn’t wear masks, as did the BLM folks. Low IQ white folks don’t know how to hold a riot.

  20. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-01-07 12:37

    Donald, I hope the FBI is poring over those videos and selfies and getting ready arrest a thousand insurrectionists and vandals. Lock ’em all up.

    And while we’re at it, impeach Trump. Remove him from office and prevent him from ever seeking another office to abuse. That’s the perfect punishment for this heinous crime against democracy.

  21. Moses6 2021-01-07 13:19

    Evidently Kristi Noem did a very poor job in the South I wonder if she will sing Gorgia on my mind.What an embarrassment for her to campaign for two senators who both lost, in the process sticking up for a president saying the election was rigged.South Dakota can do better than have her as Governor of that great state.

  22. jerry 2021-01-07 13:29

    Go to the cell towers (like what should’ve been done with Ransborg) to get the information sent. Nothing says conviction like a video of the act.

  23. o 2021-01-07 13:33

    Happy, you are wrong. MAGA and the Tea Party ARE Republicans. The GOP saw these fringe movements and couldn’t run fast enough to throw their “big tent” over these circuses to swell their numbers (just as they welcomed in the Dixi Democrat racists in the 60’s).

    The GOP had a choice. they COULD have said “no, that is not us,” but they didn’t. They not only welcomed in these groups but also integrated them in structurally and capitulated principals to keep them.

    That is not the same as as identifying the degrees of liberal Democrats. Democrats are not trying to integrate rogue far-left political groups they can find.

    Today I choose not to suffer fools and their “both side do it/are the same equivocation” nonsense.

  24. Mark Anderson 2021-01-07 13:48

    Cory, I mentioned a guy from South Dakota who was in DC and quoted in the national news. A guy named Jason Bjorklund. It would be nice to see if he entered the building. Anyone know about that?

  25. leslie 2021-01-07 14:09

    Another guy, Beckman and his wife travelled there too just for the event, on FB apparently and last night local news. Couldn’t repeat enough the full plate of Trump propaganda. Somebody has got to talk sense into these two typical selfie idiots.

    The news is flooded today with Republican spokespeople (e.g. Ted Cruz’s former press person) singing a whole new song that it was only the Don and not real Republicans.

  26. Spike 2021-01-07 14:09

    Mr. Valandra is correct. Contacting our national representatives and reminding them that they have been complicit in encouraging Trump to abuse his position and its time for them to act like real men and enforce the law they are sworn to uphold is one thing we all have a responsibility to do. We cannot be silent.

  27. leslie 2021-01-07 15:34

    John Scott-Railton
    The troubling picture is coming into focus: multiple people on front lines of breaching the senate chamber were ex military. At least one carried restraints.

    See Twitter thread: photos of tactical cap w AR15 patch, Texas Punisher patch, hand gun, full camo; others similarly dressed working on door/floor locks to hold in hostages? Video of fast efficient window breakage/entry wearing kevlar helmets and armor plates.

  28. Doug Kronaizl 2021-01-07 18:33

    To provide some clarity (though I’m not sure my memory is entirely correct on the timing and I was there!), the day Michels shouted down observers in the gallery was the day of the actual vote to repeal IM22, which I believe was Feb. 2. It was in response to a number of observers clapping/cheering from the gallery after a Senator spoke in opposition to the repeal. I believe Michels warned observers at the outset of the proceedings that he would not tolerate commentary from the gallery. The Thursday prior, the 26th, was when Senators first met, but ultimately postponed the vote on the repeal. There were demonstrations planned on that day, too, but most were nipped in the bud after it was apparent the actual vote would come a week later.

    But, additionally, I personally felt that the showing on the 2nd was an ideal statement: a packed gallery looking down into the Senate as they voted on the repeal. As far as shoring up a reputation goes, if voters opposed to the IM22 repeal had caused a disruption beyond clapping/cheering and gathering outside, it would have jeopardized any goodwill the effort had gathered at that point or could hope to have gathered in the future. The idea being that, yes, a statement should be made, but not in a way that makes it more difficult for us to find grassroots support in the future. I was proud of how people handled themselves at the capitol, at cracker barrels, and elsewhere, and believe it did a lot to that end.

  29. mike from iowa 2021-01-07 20:03

    One capitol policeman ha died from injuries suffered from white scumacysts in armed insurrection of capitol. Murder i say.

  30. o 2021-01-07 21:14

    Happy, just in case you missed who is running the GOP show: “This isn’t their Republican Party anymore. This is Donald Trump’s Republican Party,” Trump Jr. said, and then warned Republicans who did not support his father’s efforts to overturn democracy: “We’re coming for you, and we’re going to have a good time doing it.”

  31. SD is 20 per cent nonwhite 2021-01-07 22:54

    These are antiRepublicans , willing to throw away Millions of votes to get their guy elected.

    Bravo for Matt Michaels!

    Action item: A nonprofit park, where anyone can get a free copy of IM 22, we can enshrine those words better than Mt Rushmore (theft of private holy lands from the Lakota). What can we call it, Mt. Ethics? Little Hill Ethics? This could be a good tourist attraction out west by Kadoka, Belvedere and Wall. It could support 6 great jobs there!

    Anyone willing to start something good?

    Democrats, Independents, Greens, Libertarians, some AntiRepublicans would support this!

    Should the Democratic Party be BOLD and say, We will get 80 legislators elected in 80 months, and reinstate IM 22 permanently! They should, or get out of the way.

  32. SD is 20 per cent nonwhite 2021-01-07 23:50

    Republican voters in DC, stormed and trashed the US Capitol Thursday.
    A Republican President incited the riot, told them to go the Capitol.
    Republican Representative Dustin Johnson on the radio Thursday said he is not in favor of impeachment of Trump or removal by 25th Amendment.

    Do you see a pattern? President incites riot, Republican voters storm the Capitol building, Representative of our state, says, Hey no big deal, I refuse to Do anything.

    1. The only group ever to invade and Trash the Capitol buildings were Republican voters. Besides the British.
    2. Republicans do not believe Congress is co equal to the President. They kowtow to their monarch.
    3. All Democrats, Libertarians, Greens and Independents should get elected and caucus together, so they can be the New Coalition Government of South Dakota. The anti Republican Party is an outlaw party who invaded the Capitol building, and committed sedition and insurrection unlawfully.

  33. Mark Anderson 2021-01-08 07:38

    Cory, it was an NBC report, entitled Four Dead, Congress evacuated, National Guard activated after pro-trump storm capitol. Jason Bjorklund is covered revealing his ignorance.

  34. leslie 2021-01-08 09:11

    20%, please join us; contact your local Democratic party headquarters. 80/80!

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