Only six days into 2021, Americans are already seeing the effect a controversial president and an angry public can have on the electoral process and government system as a whole. In the wake of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 election, current President Donald Trump has gone to extreme lengths in an effort to prove election fraud and reclaim Biden’s victory as his own. The months of tense relations between the two parties and the president have culminated in a final electoral count by Congress scheduled today, January 6. The counting, however, was interrupted as Trump supporters began gathering, then forcefully entered, the United States Capitol building where the congressional proceedings were being held.
According to the Washington Post, President Donald Trump encouraged his supporters to gather and rally in response to the electoral count, suggesting that they openly dispute the results. However, his supporters became restless and violent in front of the Capitol building, some successfully forcing themselves past the U.S. Capitol Police, who are now calling for backup to control the crowds. The counting itself was halted after a government aid interrupted to share that protestors had gotten into the building, which prompted a lockdown. D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser has also implemented a citywide curfew from 6:00 pm to 6:00 am, during which no one is allowed out and about in the city while also requesting help from the National Guard, which the Pentagon has approved and are currently en route. The only response to the violence that Trump has provided was a tweet from him stating, “I am asking for everyone at the U.S. Capitol to remain peaceful. No violence! Remember, WE are the Party of Law & Order – respect the Law and our great men and women in Blue. Thank you!” This tweet follows a series of quotes calling out election fraud, statements that Twitter has acknowledged are disputed.
Many on both sides of the aisle are calling for President Trump to condemn the actions of his supporters, as he is the only one who can get them to stop. However, this situation goes beyond a simple disrespect of Congress and democracy as a whole. It speaks to the ability of, mostly white, protestors being able to break into the Capitol building, while armed, from which they emerged relatively unscathed. Yet innocent people of color and protestors on the other side have consistently faced violence from the police and bigoted citizens throughout history and the past year. There is a point in which one begins to question how much Trump supporters really believe in the law and democracy, as they are willing to publicly and savagely break it in an attempt to fight an inevitable situation. If nothing else, this demonstrates that they don’t care about law and order or respect law enforcement; they are obsessed with keeping a man in office who will openly promote their racist and xenophobic agenda. If it were simply about taxes and money, no one would be storming any government building.
As we all know, 2020 was an incredibly difficult year, and many were holding on to the naive hope that 2021 would suddenly fix every problem. However, as Covid-19 cases continue to rise and the very safety of democracy is threatened, it is obvious that our problems aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. It is my hope that President Donald Trump can search within himself and find the respect to call for his supporters to retreat. If nothing else, then at least he can leave office on January 20 with a shred of decency and grace.