It is time for America to heal

Liam Smith, Staff Writer

Illustration by Gabrialla Cockerell

Throughout history, America has always been a beacon of democracy. America’s ideas of equal opportunity, liberal democracy, and equality under the law have been a shining light throughout the world. America has inspired nations and forged new pathways in innovation.

But Jan. 6, 2021, certainly stained that legacy when thousands of President Trump’s supporters stormed the United States Capitol building in Washington, D.C. They broke into the building, injured police officers, trashed offices, sat in the seat of the Presiding Officer of the United States Senate, and six people were killed including two police officers. Their behavior was abhorrent, reprehensible, and the perpetrators of illegal behavior should be brought to justice.

There is no question that President Trump fueled the flames that led to violence. He falsely claimed, without evidence, that Vice President Pence could overturn the election by refusing to count the electoral votes. As a matter of law, this is false. After a state governor certifies electors (that is members of the electoral college representing a state) past the safe harbor provision date (Dec. 8), those electors must be seated and vote for the president. To suggest, as Trump did, that Congress by legislative fiat can overturn an entire slate of state electors is immoral, wrong, and un-American!

Furthermore, President Trump actively encouraged his supporters to march to the Capitol. He was quoted in a speech at a rally he gave before the march saying he would lead them there himself. Despite not leading that march, Trump also doubled down by claiming, falsely, that the election was stolen, and that our country should not stand for it. This kind of speech is beneath the office of the President of the United States. The President directly fueled the flame of the rioters and that makes him directly responsible for the situation on Capitol Hill. Given the situation, along with the abysmal statements and actions made by President Trump, he should resign immediately.

In the aftermath of the situation, many different narratives were floating around about what happened. Responses were coming in so fast it was hard to keep up. One narrative was that the people that entered the Capitol building were treated better by police than other protests that happened in Washington D.C. over the summer because of their race. Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris, without evidence, said that “we witnessed two types of justice” when speaking about the riot on Capitol Hill as compared to the riots across the country this summer. For the Vice President-Elect to state this claim without evidence is disgusting and wrong. It further divides the American people and exacerbates an already terrible event.

Vice President-Elect Harris’ comments considered the underlying narrative she gives is false. According to a letter written by the Mayor of Washington D.C. Muriel Bowser to the Acting Attorney General Jeff Rosen among others, the Mayor refused the additional help offered by the F.B.I. and the National Guard to secure Wednesday’s protests. This refusal for additional troops, among other things, led to Capitol Police being overwhelmed and unable to handle the volume of people forcibly trying to enter the building. A full investigation has been launched by the F.B.I. and more information will come out as to why Mayor Bowser refused federal assistance days before the riot.

Photo Illustration by Angela Ide

Nevertheless, it is hard to argue as a matter of fact that race played any part in enforcing the law, or otherwise not enforcing the law. Police used teargas, mace, and flashbangs on rioters to repel them from the steps at the Capitol after clearing the building. This is similar to how police reacted to widespread riots throughout the summer. To suggest that race played a factor, and further divide the country along racial lines, is abhorrent and wrong. This act was so reprehensible we as Americans of any color should be able to condemn this heinous act as political violence is always wrong no matter what side.

It is no doubt questions will be answered, especially as new information comes to light. But, where do we go from here? The answer is clear. We as Americans should unite! We should use this act to come together, reject the forces of hatred, and move on from a President who has a lackluster relationship with the truth.

Despite all the sorrow following this terrible event, it is important to note that in this instance our system of government worked as intended. While an insurrection of this magnitude has never been attempted in American history, the Founders foresaw the repercussions of a demagogic President. That is why we have a Congress. That is why we have a 435-voting member House of Representatives and a 100-member United States Senate. These institutions exist to combat the unitary nature of a one-member executive.

And indeed, within hours of this failed attempt at insurrection, the Congress was functional and completed its work. The House and the Senate met in Joint session and certified the Electoral vote. Congress did its job which is something to be proud of!