Insurrection at the Capitol

Noah Berkowitz

Let’s start with the facts. On January 6th, 2021, congress met on Capitol Hill to perform what is usually a routine and ceremonial count of each state’s electoral votes for President and Vice President of the United States. While this time some turbulence was expected, as many Republican members of the House and Senate were poised to object to the certification, (knowing it would fail as neither chamber had enough votes), the day quickly escalated into chaos. Attendees of former President Trump’s rally marched down to the Capitol building, proceeding to clash with police, break down barriers, and eventually breach the steps of the people’s house. While thousands roared from outside, many stormed the insides of the building, wreaking havoc and looking for members of Congress. Five people lost their lives, including Capitol police officer Brian D. Sicknick. Hundreds of arrests have been, and are being made, as well as over 200,000 pictures being examined by the FBI in an attempt to find those who participated in the insurrection. Those are the cold hard facts, undebatable, and unable to be disputed.

With the disgusting events that took place, it was almost impossible for there to be complete agreement. Political agendas and ideologies once again led to turmoil between party lines, with Democrats in 100% agreement that Donald Trump incited the riots, and Republicans torn, some speaking out, and others continuing to fall in line behind the 45th man in office. Despite an act of domestic terrorism, Senators Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley continued to lead the charge behind the objection of election certification; a decision clearly made to benefit their own careers. When voting on election certification finished, Joe Biden was once again named the next President, a fact that was all but certain on November 7. While democracy persevered, and the attempted coup failed, the takeaways of such a night should be heavily scrutinized, and heavily looked at.

The first thing that Americans should be ashamed of is the amount of House Representatives and Senators who refused to put the country before the party. The disproven, and blatantly false accusations of widespread voter fraud drove 121 GOP lawmakers in the House to continue the dispute of the free and fair election results. Only six Senators stayed on course with their original complaints. While many argue that they were just trying to represent their constituents to the best of their ability, when has letting terrorism go become the new norm? When has representing your state or district also meant playing into a false narrative, stating that the election was stolen, when in reality, it wasn’t? When has the willingness to choose one’s personal interests over the interest of the nation become standard? The straight answer to all of these is simple, The Trump era. 

In a presidency where lies were seen as acceptable, racism, sexism, xenophobia, and anti-semitism were praised, and worship of a man who divided the country more than anyone in US history was prevalent, this was predictable. There should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that this was incited by Donald Trump, and those who attacked our democracy, did so in his name. They yelled at officers, screaming that they were “listening to Trump.” Terrorists chanted hang Mike Pence because of his unwillingness to disobey his constitutional duty. The white supremacists wore shirts listing phrases such as “Camp Auschwitz,” and “work brings freedom,” a translation of “arbeit macht frei.” These weren’t people acting in peaceful protest, these were treasonous insurrectionists acting in favor of former President Trump. There should be no watering down of the true intentions of this attack, which truly was an attempt to overthrow the government. Why else would a man hold zip tie handcuffs if not to take congresspeople hostage? Yet through all of the hate, and all of the awful acts carried out on January 6, Trump continues to be defended, and even praised. 

Following the melee, Democrats swiftly drafted articles of impeachment, citing Trump for incitement of an insurrection, along with sourcing a phone call he had with the Georgia Secretary of State where he begged for the state to overturn the results, and even “find votes.” Later the next week, the then current president had achieved yet another first, this time, being the first president to be impeached twice. Many House Republicans argued that this would further divide the nation, and used arguments such as cancel culture, and unity. Yet these excuses return us back to the fundamental principles of our nation. When have we settled so much, that we now negotiate with domestic terrorists? The true reason behind impeachment was not for unrest, not for a lack of unity, but to make an example, that no one, not even the president, can attempt to overthrow the government. While the positive behind this is that democracy prevailed, the problem remains, only ten conservative congress members united with Democrats to impeach. Despite the overwhelming evidence, including the speech where he states, “…you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength, and you have to be strong.” Despite the months and months of denying the loss, preaching those who want to “stop the steal.” Despite denying the ability for a peaceful transfer of power until after the attack. Most importantly, despite four years of instability, horrifying rhetoric, and lack of action, they continue to support him. 

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer explains so eloquently that, “President Franklin Roosevelt set aside Dec. 7, 1941, as a day that will live in infamy. Unfortunately, we can now add Jan. 6, 2021, to that very short list of dates in American history that will live forever in infamy.” The comparison to a day as tragic as Pearl Harbor is fitting. Actively, we live in a time where more people are dying a day to COVID-19 then all of those who passed on 9/11; where arguments about politics aren’t about economics, but basic ethics. The January 6th attack will indeed leave a stain on American history; however, it’s how we rebound as a nation that determines our legacy. The choices are evident, unite and move together as one, putting the will of the American people first, or stay divided, where the right makes excuses for Klan members, and the left remains steadfast behind modernizing their policies. The US may have a strong start, with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell openly throwing blame at Trump for the first time. As well as newly inaugurated President Joe Biden, offering to reach across the aisle, as a voice for all, and his self proclaimed mission to “…be a president for all people, whether you voted for me or not.” The insurrection, a true terror attack on democracy, and everything we as a country are meant to represent, will serve as a frequent reminder of the consequences that can occur if the fundamental beliefs of facism are carried out.