If not this, then what?

That’s the phrase I’ve been repeating to myself over and over since a mob stormed the Capitol Building last week. Like many people, I was working at my desk that afternoon. I was completely unaware that the siege had started until I sent a cheery email off to two colleagues in Dublin, Ireland, wishing them a happy New Year. Seconds later, I got an email back urging me to turn on the TV. Watching the events unfold was surreal. It was like 9/11, when I turned on the television when I went to the kitchen to get a cup of coffee just in time to watch the second plane fly into the Twin Towers. Those are images that don’t compute: I saw them, but I couldn’t believe I was watching them because they’re so outside of my everyday experience.

I was still watching a few hours later, when the president tweeted that he loved the protestors. Soon, there was talk of the 25th amendment or a second impeachment among Democrats and push-back by Republicans. All I could think of is that this is the same party that impeached Bill Clinton in the House of Representatives for lying about sex with an intern. And, while he remained in office, Clinton’s law license was suspended for five years, and he resigned from the law rather than face disbarment in front of the Supreme Court. The reaction to an insurrection: Let’s do nothing and send the president off with a pension for life.

If not this, then what?

Last week, The Wall Street Journal editorial page urged Trump to step down from office. Not because the editors thought that what he did was abominable, but to save himself the embarrassment of being the only president impeached twice. That weekend, the Journal editorial board accused Nancy Pelosi of an attempted coup. What does the president have to do, in the eyes of his supporters, to warrant removal from office?

If not this, then what?

Take a look at the photographs of individuals storming the Capitol in T-shirts and hoodies emblazoned with slogans like “Camp Auschwitz. Continue The Fight” and “6MWNE,” which stands for 6 Million Was Not Enough, a reference to the number of Jews killed in Hitler’s concentration camps. These are the same individuals protected for hours by the president’s unwillingness to make a statement until well into the event? These are the people he urged to go home with a kiss: “We love you. You’re very special.”

If not this, then what?

Some prominent Republicans have argued that removing Trump from office will only make his supporters angrier and our problems worse. These are the same supporters who yelled epithets at Mitt Romney and Lindsay Graham in the airport, want Mike Pence to pay the ultimate price for disloyalty and hung a noose outside the Capitol. If Congress backs down from them, why would any foreign adversary threatening the U.S., or our allies, be afraid of our threats of retribution in the future?

If not this, then what?

If Trump remains in office until the end of his term, he is eligible for a pension of $219,000 a year for life, $20,000 a year for the first lady and other perks. Right now, they average $1.4 million a year. If he is removed from office, he loses it all. Do we really want to spend $15-to-$30 million to support an individual whose lies about a stolen election led to this level of violence?

More than a week after the incident, I’m still beside myself trying to make sense of it all. But I still have to ask: If not this, then what?

Bob Trebilcock of Keene is the editorial director of Supply Chain Management Review. A writer and podcaster, he’s written for The Boston Globe, The Cleveland Plain Dealer, Parade, the San Francisco Chronicle and The Baltimore Sun, and been published in Sports Illustrated, Reader’s Digest, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Redbook, Ladies’ Home Journal and Good Housekeeping.