By Adam Koplik, Editor-in-Chief
Our democracy is at stake. I don’t see another way to say it. A mob of domestic terrorists wrapped in flags that declared their intention to “Make America Great Again” stormed and successfully took over the operational heart of our democratic republic. Four human beings lost their lives, but in the end, the significant brunt of this blame should be placed on one man—their dear leader who didn’t even attend the terrorist attack: Donald Trump.
We’ve known who Donald Trump is for years. A liar, a crook, an egotistical maniac with autocratic tendencies. On November 3, in the end, there was a rebuke of the hatred he’s spent years spewing. Over 80 million people came out to vote for Joe Biden. Many of them not out of love for Biden, but an acknowledgment that Donald Trump presents a clear and present danger to our democracy. Those fears were proven correct yesterday.
Prior to the election, Trump already professed that his loss on election day could only be due to fraud. So, unsurprisingly, when Donald Trump was defeated by Joe Biden, his immediate response was denial. Whether it was just out of a refusal to accept people dislike him or just an attempt to delegitimize the Biden presidency, he told the American people the election was stolen from him. And, as Ted Cruz so ineloquently pointed out, one-third of Americans are now concerned with the integrity of our election, the most fundamental factor of our democracy. Why are they concerned? Is it because there’s mass evidence of voter fraud at a scale an election could be overturned? No. Is it because the courts have ruled that there was evidence? No, in fact, despite filing over 50 court cases, the Trump team won just one: a case where they asked for watchers to be closer to the counters. There is no evidence of mass voter fraud. Despite this, Trump has become a mass spreader of social media conspiracy theories, pushing baseless claims that sympathize with the radical beliefs of fringe groups like the Proud Boys and QAnon.
That brings us to January 6. As Trump spoke a few thousand feet away about the “stolen election,” and told his supporters that if they don’t “fight like hell” they’re “not going to have a country anymore,” his lackeys in Congress began the process of objecting to our free and fair election. As he told his supporters that Mike Pence could overturn the results of an election (he can’t), Ted Cruz stood on the Senate floor, putting his political future ahead of the good of the nation. While debating the unsubstantiated objection to the certification of Arizona’s electoral votes, our country fell under siege by its own people. A group of thousands of Trump-supporting insurgents tore down barricades and seemingly strolled into one of the symbols of our freedom, many wielding the emblem of the Confederacy. Draped in the flag of a traitorous nation, they took over The Capitol.
Now, coming from a man who believed a ten-year prison sentence was appropriate for vandalizing Confederate monuments and who tear-gassed a group of peaceful protesters for a photo-op, you would think Donald Trump’s response would be a stern vilification of these rioters. You would think so. Instead, hunkered down in the Oval Office upset with his Vice President for refusing to violate the Constitution, Trump’s first response was to attack Pence – all while the insurrection was going on. His second was a call to “remain peaceful,” which was an interesting response given the violence had already begun. His attempt at alleviating the violence was like trying to put out a fire with a squirt gun. A bit later, Trump put out a video in which he called the traitors to our nation “Patriots,” “Very special people,” and told them he loves them. He sprinkled in a bit of “go home,” but it wasn’t the complete condemnation of these actions it should’ve been. A later tweet was even more explicitly supportive, in which Trump said, “These are the things and events that happen when a…election victory…is…stripped away”, calling his supporters “great patriots” and saying we should “Remember this day forever!”. Not in a “Never Forget 9/11” way, but in a proud way. For Trump, kneeling during the National Anthem crosses the line, but overrunning the Capitol building is just right.
Trump bodes responsibility for the four lost lives. His delusional belief that he won the election has spread to his supporters. They did this to show support for their leader. The Congressional members who objected to the election are also responsible and put political capital over a peaceful transfer of power. The members of the media, like Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson, want to entertain their base over helping the nation. These people knew better but still chose to attempt to destroy the integrity of the elections. Trump told people the election was stolen, fanning the flames for people to rise up against what they see as a totalitarian government that ripped an election away from their preferred candidate. They did this for Trump. He could’ve stopped it. During the riot, he could’ve condemned their actions – he didn’t. He could’ve said on November 9 that he lost, and none of this would’ve happened – he didn’t. He likes this. He wants people to fight for his name. White House aides reported he seemed to enjoy watching the siege. He doesn’t care about his so-called patriots. He’s a narcissistic billionaire who makes every move in a calculated way to help himself over everyone else. This is his legacy. Death. Destruction. Insurrection. And finally, we witnessed the consequences of “just humoring him”: a fight for our democracy.
Featured Photo: Leah Millis/Reuters