In what may be one of the darkest days in American history, insurgent Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol today, January 6, to protest the outcome of the election, which resulted in the defeat of current sitting president Republican Donald Trump and the election of Democrat Joe Biden.
The president and his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani had earlier incited these protesters in remarks at the White House as the they gathered in a show of support for Trump’s baseless claim of fraud in the U.S. presidential election. Egged on by Trump and Giuliani, the mob converged on the Capitol and were permitted to storm it, breaking windows and causing chaos to mount a coup.
We should have seen this coming.
A Long History, A Low Bar
Since declaring his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination in 2015, Donald Trump has used every official rally and campaign event to spew lies, hatred and vitriol of the Democratic party and liberal voters.
He wasted no opportunity to vilify and target the opposing party in language that was often shockingly violent, authoritarian, and crass, frequently urging physical altercations. Trump has a long history of such remarks, so it was even more disturbing that he was elected to the office of the presidency in 2016.
It was a low bar for the most respected office in the world and he quickly did what many had predicted he would do: defile and destroy our political norms, including the peaceful transition of power and ruin the Republican party’s reputation as patriotic and principled.
History will record the January 6 coup attempt as a dark day in America that will likely lead to the implosion of the Republican Party. This will be a day that either leads to the decline of our nation or helps it turn the tide from the hatred and vitriol fueled by the most incompetent, destructive demagogue in U.S. politics ever.
As the day continues to unfold, as I write this it’s just after D.C.’s mandated 6:00 p.m. curfew and crowds are beginning to disperse. But the damage has been done.
These fresh wounds are deep, self-inflicted, and painful. This is the day that makes it clear that we are living through the destruction of the illusion of the “united” states. Like a bad marriage to an abusive spouse, we probably knew this day of violence would come, yet we were completely unprepared for a few hundred protestors storming the seat of the U.S. legislative branch.
Caught Off Guard or Collaborating?
Maybe we were not all unprepared. After all, the president had said that January 6 would be “wild.”
He and his attorney Giuliani urged protesters to converge on the Capitol where a decidedly meek U.S. Capitol Police force allowed them to storm the building. The Capitol is protected by armed police officers at every secured entrance and yet insurgents were permitted to storm the building? How is that even possible? How can the Capitol police ever be trusted to protect the national from foreign terrorists when it cannot even protect it from a few hundred domestic insurgents?
The truth is the FBI warned over a decade ago that our law enforcement agencies were infiltrated by white supremacists. These insurgents were mostly white men.
I will state the obvious: white privilege largely protected them from injury, though sadly, one woman was killed inside the Capitol. She died because of Trump’s lies, petulance, and sedition. And the scene that unfolded on Capitol Hill today was enabled by a Capitol Police Department that made it clear that it had little interest in stopping the insurgency unfolding.
Ask yourself if black insurgents storming the capitol would have been treated the same as these insurgents? Of course, they wouldn’t.
It is more of the same: two Americas with one inept, seditious president hell bent on destroying our now tenuous democracy. This will not end well.
But let’s hope it ends soon.