A Heartbreaking Day

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.


64 thoughts on “A Heartbreaking Day”

  1. I saw it and I was deeply shocked ! Why does Trump get away with everything ????

  2. I have been watching from the UK, thinking of you and many other blogging friends.
    Yes, the events show how fragile Democracy is and how privileged we are to have lived in democratic countires. Democracy is not perfect – the minority nearly always seeks to undermine the majority, but it is the best we humans seem to have come up with so far.
    Consensual decision making seems to be an improvement but it is time consuming, draining, exhausting – I speak from personal experience.
    We humans are still very primitive in our behviour – perhaps these terrible events are necessary wake-up calls in order to value the changes that need to be made.
    Sending love and peace and moral support to you Laurie. ❤

  3. We were just about to go to bed when we heard the news of what was happening… and then I found it difficult to tear myself away from the reporting. However, by the time we got up this morning, Biden and Harris had been confirmed and we were very relieved that the democracy had managed to be enacted. I’m so sorry that you country is going through this – you must be desperate for the next two weeks to be over. Much love from us to you…

    1. Oh, thanks so much! Yes, very desperate for the next two weeks to be over. Yesterday was just one of those horrible days when you watch in terror at what is going in this country.

  4. Oh, Laurie,
    I feel your pain and sadness. It was a terrible, shocking, heartbreaking day. Very brave of everyone to go back to work afterwards and stay up half the night getting the work done. I AM thankful for that.

    Hugs to you both.

  5. We too were horrified as the acts of violence unfolded. Let us hope that sense prevails now and until Jan 20th comes and things change with the new administration.

  6. A sad and shocking turn of events, for sure. Given what has happened since 45 took office, I had hoped it would never come to this. Treason IMO. Will the law be brought to bear? Time will tell.

  7. So sorry to see your beautiful US Capitol being attacked in such an appalling and senseless way. What wonderfully wise words from your Maine Senator Angus King, I must see if I can hear and see him on YouTube. Sometimes we have to be shaken up as a reminder to value and defend the frail democracies we have.

  8. Laurie, most of the world shares your shock and pain. The saddest part of this is that it was 100% predictable. How could the police not have expected thousands of people to converge on the Capitol, encouraged by their hero and his lies? We all read what he’s been saying. And even after the Capitol was secured and there were many moving statements from lawmakers from both parties, there were still 140 lawmakers who voted against accepting the electoral votes of the swing states. The commitment of his followers to Trump and his lies – and to White Supremacy – is staggering and frightening. And, although Angus King’s words are meaningful, the 240-year anomaly of the beginning of modern democracy hasn’t lived up to being the role model of democracy one would have hoped. Compared to the other democratic countries in the world, continuing voter suppression and mind-boggling sums of money being able to be spent on elections are, sadly, unique to the U.S. We all hope good things can come from the appalling events of yesterday. Sadly, it is doubtful that we’ve seen the last of Trump and his army of worshippers. I wish I didn’t think that.

    1. Can’t argue with any of the points you made. However, what struck me about Senator King’s comment was that the world’s history of leadership has pretty much exclusively comprised kings, tyrants, dictators, and others who have had an iron, absolute rule. Democracy is neither natural nor easy, and none of us who live in a democracy should ever become complacent about it. If you haven’t already, do read Adam Gopnik’s essay in the current “New Yorker.” He makes points similar to what Senator King made.

      1. Historically meaning not recently, true, but since the French Revolution democracies have continued to grow. I won’t get into my long list of issues about Americans being told that they brought democracy to the modern world, which is true, but when you look under the hood its implementation of democracy falls short of pretty well every other democracy in the world. I am a big fan of Adam Gopnik, who has written about the deficiencies in U.S. democracy as well. Ironically, most indigenous societies established societies that were typically egalitarian and minimally hierarchical, as were the Acadians, because the French govt and the Church had more or less forgotten about them and they developed an egalitarian (including women) and productive society, living side by side with the Mi’kmaq. I’m listening to Joe Biden as I write this, so I will live in hope for the U.S.

      2. Again, I don’t disagree with you. But the time between the French Revolution and now is really just a blip in human history. Good points about indigenous societies and the Acadians (my ancestors!). My husband calls our government American Democracy 1.0. Time to move to 2.0.

  9. Thinking of you and your country. I was up late watching events unfold on TV too. I hope the peace will last and that people who were unsure what to believe have had their eyes peeled.

  10. One of our senators, the traitor Ted Cruz, a leader in this seditious movement, got a scathing email from me. Our Congressman, a Republican for whom I did not vote, stood up and said he might be committing political suicide, but he was supporting the proper constitutional process. I sent him a message of support, even though I voted for his opponent in November. He did the right thing. You are correct–nothing like this has happened in my lifetime. Nixon’s resignation was a scary time, but nothing like this.

    1. I think this is WORSE than Nixon’s escapades. He was covering his own butt, but he didn’t incite others to do his dirty work and he wasn’t trying to overthrow an election.

    2. What a time we are living in! But as I noted in another comment, the mobs can be outvoted, and I do believe it is our moral duty to do so. Georgia is edging toward blue, and I hope the same will be true for Texas.

  11. All I could think of was watching a movie about the American Revolution only it wasn’t a movie. There are so many sad things including that it is not going to magically get ‘all’ better at the end of the month because it is so deeply rooted. I pray for all of us.

    1. Yes, yes! I am a little more optimistic than you are. Not that it will magically get all better but rather than things will at least start moving in the right direction. And remember, these mobs can be outvoted, and I believe that it is our moral duty to do so.

  12. A very sad and shocking event that seems to indicate more striations within society. We all hope the transition will go smoothly and that America will be able to set forth on a more even keel again.

  13. It was horrific. It made me sad. And angry. What made me even sadder and more angry was that people I have felt were friends (some more than 40 years!) said nothing, and when I voiced my feelings, jumped me as not being patriotic. I believe they are the unpatriotic ones, if they are willing to overthrow democracy. Sad awakening, though I had some hunches of their loyalty over the past 4 years. Loyalty to Trump before loyalty to your country is insane.

  14. With no TV I haven’t actually seen the footage but I read a news report and it felt like I was reading a novel! There were some telling comments on how the ‘Black Lives Matter’ protests were policed heavily but the mob was allowed to rampage for some time before order was restored. Maybe that was because it seemed so unthinkable before it happened! Stay safe my friend.

  15. I hope they remove the Mad President as soon as possible. To use a metaphor, cut off the head of the snake. If they don’t, I fear we’re in for more of this. The same people who organized this are still organizing (with plans to go back to D.C. on January 19).

    It was, indeed, a heartbreaking day. Thank you for sharing the speech with us.

  16. I am so saddened by these and other recent events, Laurie. What happened is shocking and everyone involved must be held accountable – inside government, in the police and among the terrorists. If some police abetted the terrorists attacking their own colleagues, they should be held to account.

  17. Yes, truly shocking that this should happen in any democracy, but for it to be perpetrated in the US is beyond belief. This event, like Covid, reminds us that civilisation as we know and love it balances precariously on a knife edge. To avoid tumbling headlong into the abyss requires us all to do the right thing, and to speak up and stand firm against those who don’t.

    Great speech by Senator King, thank you for sharing

  18. Your gorgeous snowy photo contrasts strongly with the sad contents of the text. Democrary is indeed fragile and a new political phenomenon relatively speaking. It has flaws and needs fine tuning, but certainly not of the type seen in this awful event. What a mess! It is certainly the legacy that Trump deserves to be classed in the same breath as unconscionable despots and nutters, which seems largely his fab base. So happy that the congress prevailed.

  19. We were horrified when we saw this on the news. Our immediate reaction was, for a country that has such sophisticated intelligence on terrorists etc, whybthe lack of security for the seat of government.? It does not bear thinking about if they had actually used the weapons. Surely all the mob should be arrested? If they are not brought to justice surely it sends the wrong message?

    1. You bet! Arrests have been made, and I hope there are more. You are so right that it would have been even worse if the mob had found the senators, representatives, and Vice President. A gallows had been constructed. Makes me ill just to think about it.

  20. That was a good speech by Angus King.

    I have been following a Twitter account called Parlertakes that has been sharing screenshots from those fomenting “civil war”. It’s deeply troubling and scary. And, as you know, in the almost a week since you wrote this, even more downright creepy stories about the insurrection have surfaced. You no doubt share my feeling of worried suspense over what will come next.

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