At approximately 1 pm Eastern Time today, the 6th of January 2021, protesters in Washington D.C. who had gathered at the behest of President Donald Trump to bemoan the results of our recent Presidential election, breeched the security barriers outside of the US Capitol and made their way inside the building and are now occupying a significant portion of the world’s greatest monument to democracy. This was more than four hours ago. There has been one weakly worded tweet and a bizarre video from President Trump calling for some level of calm. Can you only imagine what would be happening at this moment if the mob included Black Lives Matter protesters rather than gun toting white Trumpians? But that question is more rhetorical and part of a larger issue.
The situation at the US Capitol today is surreal, a really bad movie scene. But unfortunately, it is all too real and was all too predictable. US citizens, some armed, have taken over the House of the people’s government with little opposition and too much incitement from a Trump rally earlier today. Just now, President Trump posted a video asking for his supporters to “go home” while reiterating his belief that the election was a fraud and that he won in a landslide. If there was ever a time to enact the 25th Amendment to remove the country’s Chief Executive, it is now. Congressional members who are currently sheltering-in-place in various basement areas of the Capitol should be voting on and consenting to a second impeachment of Mr. Trump – with immediate effect.
All of this was predictable. All of this should not be shocking. It should not be articulated by many Republican members of Congress as “understandable”. Many observers believe that history will judge the people and institutions who have allowed Mr. Trump to continuously spew his lies and alternate reality to the American people. The question is “what will the judgement be?.” If order is restored; truth is again viewed as honorable; and public debate is executed with respect; then history will judge these perpetrators as exactly what they are – radical cult members. If accountability for the actions of today as well as the multitude of transgressions against the American people and our democracy over the past four years is not pursued and made in the courts of law and public opinion, history may judge these insurrectionists as heroes and patriots.
These are the same people who have tried to repeal the Affordable Care Act with absolutely no replacement plan. The same people who have bungled the COVID-19 pandemic response. The same people who have rolled back dozens of environmental regulations that were put in place so that we may continue to thrive on the only planet that we have. The same people who have lost more than 50 lawsuits that were fraudulently filed in attempting to overturn a fair and legitimate election. The problem is that 70 million people voted in November for a continuation of a Trump administration. Why did 70 million people want four more years of this chaos and disdain for our democracy? We must figure out why or we will be witnessing the beginning of the end of this tremendous experiment in democratic governance.
With this in mind, I believe that someone must answer this question in plain, concise, and understandable language. Perhaps that “someone” is Tarbell. We must understand why there is so much anger and distrust under the surface that a narcissist like Trump was allowed to not only become President in 2016, but despite all of the unsavoriness of the last four years that they would choose to endure four more years of the same. What is the source of the unhappiness; the fear; and the desire to be so judgmental and hateful toward our fellow Americans? What is it that 70 million people want that they aren’t getting now, didn’t get in the past, or think they won’t get in the future? Don’t all of us want affordable and adequate healthcare, clean water and air, and the peace and security to live our lives without prejudice toward our neighbors. Is there anyone out there who really wants to see poverty, hunger, and addiction ravish our cities and towns? Does anyone want our sons and daughters in a foreign land fighting wars that we can’t win? Are these common desires not enough to unify us as a country? If not, what else is there that people want? This seemingly infinite divide in our civil society must have a root cause. What is it? How did we get here? What can we do to fix it? It is up to us, as a citizenry, to find the answers. It is not the governments job to analyze and legislate our cultural and societal differences. It is our job as a society to understand and solve these problems but we have to execute civil dialogue first. Preferably a dialogue that is based in honesty and tolerance.