Big changes are happening, compliments of folks who forgot Trump is no longer president. A good rule of thumb is to check often to see if you’re riding a dead horse.

It was an unexpected surprise when Republican Sen. Richard Burr voted to convict Donald Trump last week. Burr did not think Congress could impeach a non-sitting president. Then as to guilt, he said: "The evidence is compelling that President Trump is guilty of inciting an insurrection against a coequal branch of government and that the charge rises to the level of high crimes and misdemeanors." He accepted the majority will, then voted in honest fact-finding. He was swiftly upbraided by the North Carolina GOP, whose retaliation was toothless, since Burr already planned not to run for re-election. I like that guy.

After the Stop The Steal Capitol Riot, Oklahoma U.S. Sen. James Lankford announced he would drop challenging the November elections. Even so, he protected Trump from consequences. When the dust cleared, the Senate was 10 votes shy of the first step to ending Trump’s future eligibility to run for president. The Constitution was not just silent about "sitting" electeds. It also underrepresents the majority of Americans in the Senate. Fifteen red states for 38 million people sent 30 senators. California cast two votes on behalf of its 40 million residents.

Mitch McConnell is famous for using every decision as a utilitarian weapon for his political agenda. He opposed impeachment as but a surgical tool for the narrow purpose of protecting the country from sitting government officers. He never distinguished why "future" government officers and candidates were excluded. He had slow-tracked Trump’s impeachment while Trump was in office, only to then argue it was now too late after Biden’s inauguration. I’m sure dealmakers felt tricked, as usual. Then to his credit – or maybe staking his affiliation – McConnell excoriated Trump for cultivating gullible supporters with wild falsehoods, false statements, conspiracy theories and reckless hyperbole.

News sources claim Trump voters are splitting from the GOP to launch Patriot Parties in Florida, Georgia, Colorado, Missouri, North Carolina, and Ohio. Meanwhile, 120 GOP leaders met to discuss forming an anti-Trump party, to be called the Integrity Party or Center Right Party, because the unanchored Republican Party has not preserved its core values of conservatism and respect for democracy.

Which Oklahoma lawmakers knew in advance that Trump planned to storm the U.S. Capitol? District 2 Congressman Rep. Markwayne Mullin, in a Jan. 4 Town Hall Meeting two days before the deadly riot, alluded to delaying or stopping the certification, saying, “I don’t know what’s going to happen.” It was an odd answer to a question never asked— almost like a denial of complicity in advance. Acquittal of Trump last week essentially absolved Mullin of expulsion as accessory to false statements of fact, violence, and murder, and conspiring with insurgents.

My esteemed colleague and op/ed journalist Brent Been opines: “An insurrection that goes unpunished is but a training mission.” America now goes forward to restore its reputation and safeguard the electoral dignity of the country from the calculated damage of maybe one of the most radical politicians in history. Congress only needs a simple majority to define insurrection as including acts as in the Jan. 6 riot, although ex-post facto laws keep past events from barring a Trump run in the future.

Scholars are pondering Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which states: “No person shall [hold any United States or state office] who, having previously taken an oath, ... as an officer of the United States, ... to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the (United States), or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.”

Kathy Tibbits is a Cherokee citizen, attorney, and artist living at Lake Tenkiller.

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