The Capitol Riot: What It Means For Our Democracy [Op-ed]- Current Events
Updated: Jan 27, 2021
It is Wednesday, January 6th, 2021. It’s only your fourth day at work as a freshman congressperson. You have mentally prepared yourself for the long day of debates, objections, and arguments ahead, relating to the 2020 Presidential Election results. This day will go down in history, but not for the reasons you expect.
For those of you reading this blog post, I want you to imagine yourself in this position. You’re just getting used to your new job, everyone 一 literally everyone 一 in D.C. seems to be from outside D.C., and you still don’t know where the bathrooms are in your office. On top of all this stress, one of the most polarizing political debates/arguments of our time will be taking place in both houses of Congress today: whether or not the results of the 2020 presidential election are valid. Whichever side of this argument you agree with, I’m sure we all understood how decisive this day would be for our country’s political future.
Watching from home, I felt immense tension and even curiosity on this day, and so it’s safe to say that the staffers and congresspeople who were present in the Capitol that day would be feeling this pressure trifold.
You arrive at work and are all set for the objections and votes to take place. All seems well, but suddenly, security guards burst onto the House floor and instruct you and your coworkers to evacuate the chamber and seek protection in disclosed locations immediately. The utter fright you would feel in that position would be indescribable.
You rush into your hiding space, obstruct entry points using chairs, cabinets, and tables, switch off the lights, and remain silent. You begin texting around to see what the threat is to find out that a radical mob of President Trump’s supporters has breached the capitol building and that some are even armed.
What happened in the U.S. capitol building on January 6th, 2021, is an embarrassment to our country. Rarely 一 if at all 一 have we seen such a direct attack on our democracy, all for the sole reason that a presidential candidate these rioters support did not win the Presidential Election last year. Attacking our capitol building on the day electoral vote counts were being confirmed, simply to delay a vote that was bound to occur whether these rioters intervened or not, is an utter disgrace.
The capitol building is not just another brick-clad marble building. It’s the very essence of our democracy and the place where our country’s most significant accomplishments have been recorded. Whether it be passing the 13th amendment, which banned slavery, or passing the 19th amendment, which gave women the right to vote, all of these historical moments have taken place in our capitol building -- a living museum. The rioters’ attack on our Capitol represents much more than an attack on any building. It depicts an attack on the very principles this country is governed on and is respected for. Rioters trashed congressional offices, stole podiums from the House floor, and most disgusting of all, raised a confederate flag in the very building that initiated our country’s escape from what that flag represents.
In reality, the rioters are not the only ones to blame for this act of domestic terrorism. Those who instigated this violence also have equal 一 if not a majority 一 of the blame to take for this situation. Leaders and people in positions of power such as the senator from Missouri, the senator from Texas, and even our own President have just as much a part to play in this situation, as do the rioters themselves.
Let’s make one thing clear here: your personal favorite 一 from EITHER party 一 losing an election does not equate to fraud. Since Election Day, the president and his powerful allies in Washington have called the results of this fair election “fraud,” “rigged,” and insinuated that President Trump did not lose this election -- he did. Hours before the violent insurrection, the president encouraged his supporters to “fight much stronger” against “bad people” and “show strength” at the capitol. This is a prime example of what looking after your self-interests while lying to the American people looks like. We elect leaders to represent us in Washington. Not for them to act out political theatre, not for them to prioritize selfish interests, and most definitely not for them to instigate a violent insurrection.
People look to the U.S. as a beacon of light. They look to us as a country where anything is possible if we put our minds to it and a country where peace is prioritized. The events on January 6th, 2021, must serve as an indicator of what we should NOT be as a country. It is our job as a nation to move past this situation with a clear view of how our country should be led, how our country should be seen, and what we will do to set things right.