Disclaimer: *This article is an editorial and represents the opinion of the student journalist. It does not necessarily represent the views or opinions of McNicholas High School administration, faculty, or students. *
On Jan. 6, 2021, during a joint session of Congress to certify president-elect Joe Biden’s electoral college win, insurrectionists stormed the U.S. Capitol. From numerous reports, this appears to have been a planned action rather than an impulsive decision. Instead, based on social media posts obtained by major news agencies, a premeditated mob organized the attack on democracy. Pipe bombs were found outside the offices of the Republican and Democratic national committees, and men were photographed carrying zip ties into the Senate Chamber with the possible intent of taking hostages. Five lives were lost, including one DC police officer killed with a fire extinguisher when he tried to stop the breach of the Capitol. Hundreds more were put in danger because certain politicians have violated their constitutional oath.
Baseless claims of voter fraud have stoked the flames of insurrection for several months leading up to Jan. 6. Even months before the 2020 presidential election, President Donald Trump told his supporters during an August 20, 2020 rally in Scranton, Pennsylvania that “the only way [Biden is] going to win is by a rigged election.” The certified popular vote resulted in 81,283,485 votes for President-elect Biden and 74,223,744 votes for President Trump. The certified electoral votes resulted in 306 for Biden and 232 for Trump, with 270 needed for a victory. After 61 of 62 lawsuits failed to provide any evidence of voter fraud, President Trump relied on his Twitter account, various groups on social media such as Facebook, and QAnon to spread misinformation and rally supporters. When violence erupted, Trump addressed the insurrectionists saying he “felt their pain” and concluded with saying in his videotaped response, “We love you. You’re very special.” Calling the same people who suggested the execution of Vice President Mike Pence, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Senator Mitch McConnell “very special” reverberates the same message as calling white supremacists at Charlottesville “very fine people.”
Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Josh Hawley (R-MO) have also claimed the 2020 presidential election to be illegitimate, despite no evidence. There has been speculation that Cruz and Hawley had plans to run for the Republican nomination in the 2024 presidential election, which suggests a motive for these senators to remain close with the president and his base. Regardless, Cruz and Hawley have been condemned and called to resign by fellow senators, and Hawley has lost his largest donor already. Their complacency will tarnish their reputations for the rest of their careers. As conservative political commentator George Will stated in The Washington Post on Jan. 6, “The Trump-Hawley-Cruz insurrection against constitutional government will be an indelible stain on the nation… From this day forward, everything they say or do or advocate [for] should be disregarded as patent attempts to distract attention from the lurid fact of what they have become. Each will wear a scarlet ‘S’ as a seditionist.”
At the “Save America Rally” hours before the Capitol was infiltrated, Congresswoman Mary Miller (R-IL) quoted Adolf Hitler in her speech to “discern between what is evil and what is good.” Not only is any praise for Hitler in a democratic nation shameful and vile, it is even more concerning that the same people Miller addressed that morning attacked the Capitol donned with symbols of Nazism and white supremacy, including the Confederate flag. According to The Chicago Sun Times,Miller has since issued an apology, but no feeble PR attempt can rectify the damage she has caused.
On Jan. 13, 2021, President Trump was impeached for inciting the insurrection at the Capitol, which also made him the first U.S. president to be impeached twice. Impeachment alone is a mere slap on the wrist compared to the insurmountable damage his words and actions as well as those of other politicians have wrought on the American people and democracy itself. True accountability will begin if the Senate votes to convict him.
It’s time for politicians to adhere to their constitutional duties – not their party affiliation. In order to fulfill their positions, each President has taken the oath “to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States,” and each Senator and Representative solemnly swear to, “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”
This should not be about being republican or democrat; it should be about doing what is right to defend democracy.
The American people are waiting.