Jan. 6, 2021 shall forever live in infamy in the history of this great nation. On the day when Congress met to certify the votes for President-Elect Joseph Biden and Vice-President-Elect Kamala Harris, insurrectionists flooded the halls of Capitol Hill, demanding that Congress overturn the results of the U.S. presidential election in favor of President Donald J. Trump. Not only was this an attack on the heart of American democracy, the insurrection reflected the harm of years of lies, manipulation and misinformation and the monster it has the potential to breed.
I have long believed in the principle of giving each and every public official the chance to prove themselves. I, like millions of other Americans, believe that those who enter the field of public service do so because they wish to help the nation they serve. Upon Trump’s inauguration, I chose to do my duty as a patriotic citizen and remain open to what this president wanted to do with his time in office. However, that faith I put in the executive branch and White House has been tested time and time again by this administration. After four tumultuous and agonizing years, we have learned that actions do have consequences, as seen on Jan. 6.
Running over to my television, I watched in disbelief as the pro-Trump rioters marched over to the Capitol after President Trump’s rally earlier that day; I watched as the streets of D.C., a place where democracy and diplomacy are honored, became flooded with insurrectionists who wished to undermine those very principles of our republic. While President Trump did not walk among them, as he had promised earlier in the day during his rally, he was there in spirit, supporting this abhorrent attack on our nation’s most sacred monuments.
As the rioters stormed the Capitol building, I sat stunned and in shock. Seeing protestors beat uniformed officers, break windows and ransack the Capitol felt like a scene from a bad movie. As chaos ensued, I wondered — “How in the world did we get here?” That question was quickly answered as rioters replaced the American flags in offices with flags waving Trump’s name. The man responsible for this sits at the helm of our democracy.
Knowing that hundreds of elected officials, including Vice President Mike Pence, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and countless others, remained in that building, trying to carry out their constitutional duties, sickened me. The men and women who serve our country in public office did not sign up for this. Those from all across the political spectrum never signed up for this. We, the people, never signed up for this.
Seeing images of the Confederate flag-brandishing rioters, which had never entered the Capitol before, sent shivers down my spine. How could so much hate, division and desire to inflict harm exist in our country today? History has taught us what happens when one creates an environment that allows hostility to thrive.
President Trump, I have a hard time understanding why you could not accept the results of the election and choose to end your time in office peacefully. Your claims of widespread election fraud have been disproved. By accepting the results of the election, you could have worked to create a legacy of your time in office that may have had some sort of element of good. Instead, your repeated actions and crude messaging have led us here.