Views expressed in this blog are mine alone and are not intended to represent Williamson County policy nor intended as legal advice.
What we all watched unfold on live television Wednesday, January 6th was nothing less than an attempted coup.
A mob, incited by the President of the United States himself, marched on the nation’s Capitol, swarmed the Capitol police and entered the building with the intent to disrupt the duly elected members of Congress from conducting their legal duty to count the Electoral College vote. Those members fled and the mob entered their chamber, rifled through their desks, and sat in their seats. Some took pictures and videos of themselves as they broke windows, stole items and marched through the halls of power.
Their intent was to disrupt the affirmation of the Presidential election results.
But in the attempt, they showed not just to those Americans watching in various states of bafflement, disbelief and anger, but to the entire world, that our nation is not exempt from insurgency. They took their photos and their mementos of their “brave charge” and finally, finally went home. Four of their own died during their rampage. One, at least, a clear martyr for the cause, shot by Capitol police when she refused to back down.
Yet, they didn’t act alone.
They were aided and abetted not just by the President, but by many members of Congress, certain media outlets, and conspiracy theorists. QAnon fed their paranoia. OANN and Fox News perpetuated lies. Elected officials like Senators Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley and 147n members of the House of Representatives stoked the fires of outrage by leading the charge to protest the Electoral College vote.
In Congress, some who had been supporters of the President spoke out before and after the mob attack. A few changed course. Members of the White House staff began to resign in protest. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram blocked the President’s accounts.
All of it, too little and far too late.
The entire spectacle came as no surprise to me or to many. The perpetrators had been openly posting on social media and planning what to do after the President’s rally. That fact was reported on mainstream media. What we were stunned by was the lack of preparation by Capitol and area police. In June of 2020, police in riot gear lined the steps of the Capitol building prior to the planned BLM march. By contrast, the Capitol police had set up barricades to cordon off the area in advance of the rally. No riot gear. No lines of police on the steps. Just a few barricades that were easily countered between the mob and the Capitol police who, for the most part, backed off when faced with a chanting group of white folk. Images of the double standard of the response were quickly spread across news and social media.
Such is the double standard that is so much a part of our Black and Brown citizens lives. A few of the mob were maced. One was shot. But the majority were allowed to gather on the steps of the Capitol, wander the halls with their flags, including the Confederate, and stop the gears of government for hours. Only 52 people were arrested, most for curfew violations later in the evening. More arrests may come. Certainly, some have already been identified and fired from their jobs before they got back home.
Here’s the thing. This is what happens when you have someone in the highest office of the land who cannot admit defeat. Who soaks up conspiracy theories like a sponge. Who lies as easily as breathing but can’t keep track of which ones he’s told already and if his current one contradicts a previous one. This is what happens when a political party hitches their wagon to a sociopath, slips on a pair of blinders and gleefully uses him as a distraction to further their own agendas both personal and political. We already have someone vying to replace Trump. Senator Josh Hawley, sworn in just 3 days before the attack on the Capitol, spent his time in lock down dialing for dollars because he has already announced his intent to run for President in 2024.
The morning started off well. Georgia elected two Democrats to the Senate and knocked Mitch McConnell off his pedestal. But by the afternoon, we got to see just how fragile a thing our Democracy is.
We also had the highest single day hospitalization count for COVID-19 with 133,476 people. It’s the 36th consecutive day with over 100,000 people in the hospital with COVID nation-wide. In Williamson County, we’re at 100% hospitalization capacity and the peak isn’t expected for at least 18 days.
When the clock ticked over on January 31st, I didn’t expect things to suddenly get better. 2021 has to deal with the steaming pile left by its predecessor, much like President-elect Biden will have to clean up after President Trump. COVID is still with us and despite the new vaccines, will be around in high numbers for months yet. Vaccinating 300 million people takes time, even when they all comply.
We have 13 more days until Trump’s fingers are finally off the nuclear codes. He’s said he will allow a peaceful transfer of power, but I suspect he’s going to try and slip away in the dead of night sometime soon. It may be his only chance to escape prosecution for numerous crimes. I’m less concerned about him than I am about those he’ll leave behind. Those who’ve benefitted from his term in office, those who’ve propped him up and played fast and loose with our country and those who blindly support him as their White Savior. If Abraham Lincoln called on our better angels to pull us out of the quagmire of the Civil War, Trump has done just the opposite. He has appealed to the darkness in far too many of my fellow citizens. Whether they lust for political power in the halls of Congress or a simple return to the “Good Old Days” or a new nation founded on White Nationalism, they are the ones with whom we are left to deal.
Some of them we can remove via the ballot box. Some of them we can safely ignore as delusional servants to a past America that can never meet the imaginations. The ones that concern me are those who entered the halls of Congress yesterday. They and their ilk are capable of much. They may well form the basis of a permanent insurgency. Who knows what they may do tomorrow, on January 20th or in the months and years to come.
All I know is that we ignore them at our own peril.