On Jan. 6, 2021 lawmakers convened on Capitol Hill to certify the 2020 presidential election when thousands of maskless rioters stormed the building. Many of them flying flags brandished with classic “Trumpian” phrases like “Make America Great Again,” some bringing back more vintage hate symbols, like the Confederate flag.
But, regardless of the flag, the goal was the same: to overthrow the government.
Some are naming it a pro-Trump rally, others favoring the label of a riot. But, let’s call this what it really is: domestic terrorism.
Smashing the windows of the Capitol building is not an extension of your First Amendment rights. Insurrectionists, amongst many things, threatened to kill House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, target journalists and chanted to “hang Mike Pence.” Using violent force to break into one of the most sacred buildings in the country and stealing government property isn’t an appropriate response to an election being certified.
Parallels drawn between the aftermath of the 2016 election and 2020 election are extremely dangerous and inherently problematic. Tweeting #NotMyPresident is not the same as attempting a violent coup of the U.S. government. Conservatives like the Twitter troll trifecta, Tomi Lahren, Candace Owens and Ben Shapiro, jumped at the opportunity to compare the insurrection at the capitol to the string of Black Lives Matter protests over the summer.
Let me be very clear, there is a huge difference between asking for your life to matter through peaceful protests and asserting violence in an attempt to win back a “stolen” election.
Any attempt to undermine the purpose of movements like the Black Lives Matter movement through comparison to this insurrection is unjustified and racist.
Especially considering the dramatic contrast between the way these insurrectionists were coddled versus the violent manner in which police detained peaceful protestors. There is a huge double standard that cannot be denied.
Many conservatives, such as former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, have been quick to name the insurrection as yet another conspiracy organized by ANTIFA, despite there being no evidence to prove that theory.
Once the insurrection had been largely contained, Congress reconvened to certify the results of the 2020 election, officially naming Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States of America.
Before the Capitol was stormed, Republicans such as Ted Cruz had asserted their rejection to this confirmation. Cruz was among a large group of congresspeople who also voted to reject the certification, citing voter irregularities and fraud, despite a lack of evidence that any fraud occurred.
As horrific as the insurrection was it was also, frankly, unsurprising. All throughout Trump’s 2020 campaign he strayed from his brand and actually remained consistent in one thing: his refusal to concede or accept any election results that would not grant him a second term.
This is a stance that he asserted since his 2016 campaign. In Trump’s world, the only way Joe Biden would win the presidency was through a conspiracy effort formed by the radical left involving mass voter fraud. The reality is that the people voted.
Funnily enough, the majority did not want a second term from one of three presidents in US history to be impeached and now, the only president to be impeached twice.
The events at the Capitol were Trump’s fault. I am not accusing Trump of sending decorative electronic invitations to all of his supporters with the Jan. 6 date brandished in celebratory font, though it would explain what he is doing with his free time ignoring the coronavirus task force meetings.
However, Trump’s rhetoric has been deliberate and aggressive all throughout his campaign and following his loss. During the first presidential debate, Trump was asked to denounce white supremacists. He, instead, commanded the Proud Boys, a white nationalist group, to “stand back and stand by.” And they did just that.
So, what happens now? First of all, feel free to scream. None of this is normal. As if living through historical events daily wasn’t enough, we’ve lived through quite a few firsts during 2021 and it hasn’t been a full month yet.
Trump needs to be held accountable for his actions. Impeachment is a good first step but it should not be the extent of his punishment.
On Jan. 8, 2021 Twitter permanently banned the @realdonaldtrump account. There was an outcry amongst supporters and Trump himself, calling this unconstitutional.
To anyone outraged that our president has been silenced, understand that when you are the Commander in Chief you lose the privilege to have a few slip ups, especially when Tweets regularly turn into disaster and cost lives.
Additionally, the First Amendment doesn’t cover speech used to incite violence, especially of this magnitude. Twitter is a private company with every right to ban accounts that violate their code of conduct, even if it’s the president.
If we can’t yell fire in a crowded space, Trump doesn’t get to invite insurrectionists to storm the capitol.
He could, and has, put our country in clear and present danger numerous times with a single Tweet. Trump’s infatuation with Twitter in it of itself is absurd, but his behavior has proven to be a threat to our national security. Regardless of if they were in the wrong or not, five people died at the Capitol riot.
And they were lost because Trump enabled a violent group of domestic terrorists.
I am pleased to see that Republicans like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have denounced the president’s actions. But, why now? Was it not enough when Trump has repeatedly verbally accosted, calling Black Lives Matter protestors thugs for protesting police brutality? Why didn’t they speak up when Trump’s administration allowed children to be separated from their families and put in cages? How did we even get to a place where he had such a mass following after tape after tape was showing his defaults? The answer is simple: bigotry.
Toxic positivity is not the answer. Joe Biden asserting that the actions of Jan. 6, “do not reflect a true America,” is part of the issue. The fact that almost 62 million people chose Trump in 2016 and then 74 million again in 2020 is something we are going to have to live with. Trump lost the election fair and square, but his base has not faltered.
This is America.
Electing a fascist with a lack of experience and rich history of bigotry is America in its prime. Calling a group of supporters to overthrow the government is not patriotic.
Trump has always stunk of authoritarianism, but enabling a gaggle of insurrectionists to physically harm his opposers is blatant fascism. He is not a symptom of the problem but representative of an amalgamation of a lot of problems that we have not addressed.
Nothing is going to change if we just post things to our Instagram stories about how disappointed we are. Structural changes need to happen, and they need to happen now. This has proven how fragile our democracy is, it’s time to reinvent the democratic process and ensure that presidents like Trump cannot be elected again.
Impeaching Trump isn’t going to undo the last four years and Inauguration Day won’t make Trump supporters disappear. Many citizens fear that upcoming events like the inauguration of President Biden will face similar violence. Although several of the insurrectionists have been arrested, put on no fly lists and multiple FBI investigations are underway, but that doesn’t mean the threat goes away.
We need to actively work to dismantle the harmful ideologies that have been instilled since the Trump era. This starts with holding your representatives and any dangerous politicians accountable.
During the 2020 election, two Q Anon supporters were given seats in congress. As vital as it is that we pay attention to the larger scale elections, like the presidential election, I cannot stress enough how important local elections are.
If you’re disturbed by the state of our government right now, get involved! This can be something as simple as registering to vote or running for student government. You can also run for local government and get involved with social activism groups.
Demandaction.app is one of many resources that provides contact information for each congressperson as well as scripts and emails to use when making your voice heard.
Having Democrats control the executive branch, Senate and House is not going to make racism and partisanship disappear. We have to hold our representatives accountable.
The fact that we put a reality TV show host in office will forever be on my list of “how did these things happen,” right next to Sarah Palin being on “The Masked Singer”.
We’ve endured almost four years of a president who was one of five to have ever lost the popular vote and is considered to be one of the least experienced politicians to ever hold the presidency.
But truth be told, when you elect a reality TV show host, you should expect a season finale.