Yesterday was a heartbreaking day for this country. A mob of Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol as Senators and Representatives convened to count the presidential electoral votes and formalize the choice made by each state. Make no mistake: Joe Bidden was the winner in November’s election with a solid lead over Donald Trump. But the mob, egged on by Trump not long before they rioted, maintained that the election had been stolen and that they wanted to “take back America.”
As soon as we heard the news in the early afternoon, Clif and I were unable to focus on anything else. We turned on the television and watched in real time as the mob broke windows, looted, scaled walls, waved Confederate flags, took over Nancy Pelosi’s office, and snapped selfies of themselves as they committed what can only be called sedition. Later, in the New York Times, I saw a picture of a gallows the mob had erected.
Yes, we have had riots before in this country, and property and stores have been burned and looted, but never in my lifetime has a mob stormed the Capitol in an attempt to change the lawful results of an election. To my way of thinking, this puts yesterday’s event—an attempted coup—in a whole different category from previous riots, on par with countries that govern by dictatorship rather than by democracy.
Even the reporters, used to seeing many hard things, were shocked. An ABC reporter maintained that “history will remember January 6, 2021 as a day of infamy, the legacy of Donald Trump.”
While the Capitol police did a good job of protecting the Senators, Representatives, reporters, and other folks working there, they seemed woefully understaffed, and the mob more or less roamed at will for quite a while. Eventually the mob was cleared out. Some were arrested; most were allowed to go free. One woman was shot and killed. Others were injured. Pipe bombs and Molotov cocktails were found.
According to the New York Times, “Congress reconvened around 8 p.m. Eastern to certify the Electoral College results, and members of the National Guard from D.C. and Virginia were mobilized to prevent Trump supporters from entering the Capitol again.”
This time, the mob was foiled. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are officially the president and vice-president elect of the United States. Given there is no successful coup, Biden and Harris will be sworn in on January 20.
As for Trump? There are rumblings about removing him from office, but I will surprised if anything comes of that. I suppose it all depends on what he does between now and January 20. While Trump continues to falsely claim that the election was stolen from him, he promised there will be an orderly transition on January 20. That’s big of him, isn’t it? Well, we shall see.
Last night at the Capitol, Maine’s Senator Angus King spoke eloquently, and I will end with part of his speech: “We are a 240-year anomaly in world history. We think that what we have here in this country is the way it’s always been. It is a very unusual form of government. The normal form of government throughout world history is dictators, kings, czars, pharaohs, warlords, tyrants. And we thought 20 years ago the march of history was toward democracy, but it is in retreat in Hungary and Turkey, goodness knows in Russia. Democracy, as we have practiced it, is fragile. It’s fragile, and it rests upon trust. It rests upon trust in facts. It rests upon trust in courts. In public officials, and, yes, in elections…”
Wise words, and we would do well to heed them.
Unfortunately, a sizeable part of the population in this country does not, and what follows next remains to be seen.