A day of shame in U.S. Democracy
By A. Altieri D’Angelo
The morning of January, 6th started with a good feeling (at least for me). The results of the two Georgia Senate run-off elections indicated the Democrats would control the U.S. Senate, which would give Joe Biden an enhanced ability to implement his plan. It was also the day that the House and Senate would ratify the 2020 election results. Trump supporters were expected to dispute the election one last time, but all non-Trump supporters did not doubt that Biden would be declared the winner. What no one expected, or imagined, was that Trump supporters would attack the U.S. Capitol, break windows, attack congressional security, trash offices, and, in the process, four people died.
These domestic terrorists managed to stop the ratification process for a time and force Congress members to move to secure locations. But the insurrectionists failed. Congress reconvened at 8:00 PM and, in the early morning hours of January 7th, ratified election results. Biden was proclaimed the winner. Trump finally conceded, but barely, that he lost the election.
I watched the rioters tear up the Capitol building and felt such rage. These people were attacking my house-my Capitol building. They were attacking the Constitution and our democracy. I had not felt such anger since 9/11 when I watched the Twin Towers collapse. I know I was not alone in feeling this way. People all across the country, Democrats, Republicans, and Independents, were outraged. It was a day of shame for the country.
Trump and his mob shattered a proud record that stood for 58 presidencies: a peaceful transfer of power from one chief executive to another. The transfer of power is the basis of our democracy.
The rioters claimed they were for law and order and love America, but they hate American democracy in reality. They committed treason. Yet they say they were in D.C. to save America. How could they believe they were right? There are several reasons. For me, the leading cause is anger at the U.S. They resent the fact that minorities are gaining political influence and rising economically in many cases. They believe the country abandoned them (which is not the whole story). Their frustration made them vulnerable to the steady stream of outrageous conspiracy theories and lies put out by a deceitful, narcissistic president, Trump party members, and right-wing media. They knew or should have known that Trump was lying but chose to embrace the false narrative. They are not victims but perpetrators and must be held accountable.
Trump is solely responsible for what happened. He encouraged the rioters to march to the Capitol. And when they started to attack the Congress, Trump did not stop the riot. He wanted them to stop the certification process. It was a treasonous act. (Anyone else would be thrown in jail. Unfortunately, a sitting president cannot be charged for any crime, but he can be impeached or removed under the 25th Amendment. But with only 14 days left in his presidency, it is unlikely any such actions will take place.)
These rioters do not reflect the majority of the U.S. population. An overwhelming number of U.S. citizens still believe in the Constitution and accept the election results. They, like me, are furious that anyone would attack Congress. Many of my friends are conservative, old-time republicans-not Trump supporters. They are angry at what Trump has done. They feel Trump, and his followers, have destroyed the true Republican Party. One such friend wrote, “I don’t have a political home in this country, right now.”
This was a dark day for American democracy. We saw something that we never expected to see; an insurrection led by a sitting president. We did not think any American president and his supporters would do what they did today. It is a lesson that will never be forgotten.
From now on, when people ask how could crazed leaders, like Hitler and Mussolini, gain power, they only need to look at Trump. He used their playbook. Fortunately, the Constitution and the people who believe in it stopped him. But we failed to realize the extent of the damage he has caused by his lies. His supporters are not Americans; they do not believe in the Constitution. We can only hope that over time many trump supporters will come to realize they made a mistake.
The situation was made much worse by a total failure of imagination when preparing for the protest. Congressional security professionals failed to consider the possibility that a violent “white” group would attack Congress. How could the Capitol building be left so unprotected? Also, the police reaction to the Black Lives Matter protests in D.C. during the summer was much more forceful. The protesters never threatened the Capitol but were gassed anyway. Why were the black protesters treated differently? Was race a factor? More questions.
U.S. democracy will bounce back. It started with the ratification of Joe Biden’s win.