I began writing this the night of the failed insurrection, and then failed to complete it that night. I also failed to complete it yesterday. There are times when few words come to mind to adequately and appropriately articulate the seriousness of the events that took place at our nation's Capitol. I wish I could say this event was "unbelievable" or "inconceivable", but that would be far from the truth. Though it is no less shocking, the physical attacks on the foundation of our democracy were predictable.
What had been clear to many of us on this side of the aisle back in 2015 seems to now be dawning on some.
What did our Republican neighbors expect to happen with the constant false accusations and inflammatory rhetoric coming from the highest office in the land? Naturally, such false stories and outright lies were repeated by up-and-coming right wing conspiracy theory peddling news outlets and well established conservative radio shows, and then re-repeated by the echo-chambers found in Facebook newsfeeds and Parler. When the news quality is on par with a tabloid, it isn't hard to understand the unreal stories people believe. And these were tabloids with a political agenda propagated by the right-wing leadership all the way to the top. Weeks before Wednesday of this week, the President called for his supporters to gather in Washington D.C. to "stop the steal" and to help overturn the election. On January 6th, 2021, the President, his family, and his side-kick lawyer Rudy Giuliani sent a mob to the People's House, our United States Capitol, while both Houses of Congress were in session debating whether or not to overthrow the election of the people of these United States.
Let us not mistake what happened. On the 6th of January, the head of one of the three co-equal branches of our U.S. Government encouraged the disabling of another co-equal branch of our U.S. Government in order to silence the voices of millions of people and remain in power. To add more context to this, the next three people in the line of succession were in the Capitol that day.
Some members of the mob brought molotov cocktails, pipe bombs, and zipcuffs. It isn't hard to imagine how those may have been put to use if capitol police had not been there.
For the past three days, the question of "Who all are responsible?" has been asked. Clearly, the obvious answer we would like to say is Donald Trump. And although that answer would not be wrong, it certainly would not be complete. Nor can we put most of the blame on the ignorant; those who truly believed the lies fed to them that the election was stolen. They were preyed upon not only by the President, but by the Senators, Congresspersons, and right-wing conspiracy outlets who knew the election was not fraudulent, but perpetuated the falsehoods anyway for monetary gain and the chance to have their hands on the reigns of the mob. The thing about the mob, though, is that there comes a point when you're no longer pushing them in the direction you want them to go... but instead they begin to pull, and you are dragged, out of control, along, and down with them. That's what happened on the 6th. The Republicans who went along with and pushed these conspiracies; even though they were found unwarranted by the states that certified the results and the courts 60+ times and by 90+ judges, found themselves pulled along. And now their party is in crisis. Some may say "good" and "they got what was coming to them", and while that may be true to some extent, we cannot allow ourselves to over -push that mentality unless we ourselves wish to become pulled where we do not want to go.
While keeping responsibility in mind, let me go back to those who were pushed into believing the lies. Not just about election fraud, but all of the promises from President Trump over the years: those who were either too ignorant to know any better, or those too desperate to leave their future in the hands of smooth talkers, pensieve erudites, or the leftist elites with university training and white collars. For those who are too ignorant to know any better and still blindly follow President Trump, I cannot fathom a way to get them back to reality. It won't happen by us, anyway. The trenches have been dug too deeply by their own heels and I don't think we "left-ists" would get a net positive outcome by trying to reason with them. Rather, I feel those folks need to be reached by the moderate conservatives if they can be reached at all. It is my personal opinion and advice to not engage in politics with them, unless it is your 2021 resolution to elevate your blood pressure.
Since abstinence-only doesn't always work, when you do engage with them, please do so kindly, and with curiosity, not with malice nor agenda. Don't give them fuel to misrepresent others because of how you behave.
There are other Trump supporters who voted for him out of desperation, too. He was the "I can fix anything, and quickly, believe me!" salesman. The pandemic has destroyed and threatened the livelihoods of tens of millions of Americans. And yes, we would agree that it also threatens the lives of these people as well, but when you're out of money and trying to feed a family and there is no financial help from the GOP government, even the lousiest of sales pitches can sound good if your only hope is to get open for business (and back to work) as soon as possible; which also happens to be a GOP talking point. It's a cure for the poison, and although we might see through it, others don't necessarily have the time, luxury, nor support base to see it. In their eyes, and quite possibly in truth, the government hasn't worked for them, or has actively taken from them, the opportunities to get the essentials they need to survive.
So, what can we do? I began this whole thing by asking "who is responsible"? We are all responsible for something. We have an opportunity to be strong and show that our Democracy will never be threatened by the likes of a tyrant in office ever again. And we have the opportunity to be kind to those who now see the authoritarian he's always been. I'm not saying we are going to be singing "kumbaya" around any fires with everyone, but we can be sure to not take another step towards hating them either. Just because the 6th of January is over, that doesn't mean the attempted insurrection is over. It is our responsibility to ensure the seeds that we plant aren't for ill.
I will be perfectly honest. Although the prospects of a Democratic majority in the House and Senate does excite me, it also concerns me. Democrats have a history of missed opportunities and shooting ourselves in the foot.
I would encourage everyone to read the Constitution of the United States. Know it. Study it. It is our civic duty to be an informed and engaged public. Democracy is a fragile thing. Our founders knew this. The story goes that after the founders had completed the forming of a government, a citizen asked Ben Franklin what America was to be. Ben Franklin supposedly replied, "We will have a Republic... if you can keep it."