Following a series of unthinkable events in 2020, the new year brought yet another terrible day for our country. On Wednesday, as lawmakers convened to certify the Electoral College votes for …
Following a series of unthinkable events in 2020, the new year brought yet another terrible day for our country. On Wednesday, as lawmakers convened to certify the Electoral College votes for President-elect Joe Biden, a mob supporting President Donald Trump breached the U.S. Capitol in an effort to force Congress to overturn the election results.
Chaos soon engulfed the heart of our democracy. Rioters barged through police barricades, broke windows to enter the Capitol, vandalized the halls of Congress and forced lawmakers to rush to secure locations for their safety. Some assaulted police officers, as video footage shows. Five people died, including Capitol police officer Brian Sicknick, who was 42.
The losses, violence and damage were heartbreaking, but almost as painful has been watching the fallout.
It should be a given in this country, a democratic republic, that we denounce political violence. Full stop.
As U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., put it in an appearance on NBC News, “We have very deep and clear political differences in this country, but we don’t resolve those differences by mob violence. It doesn’t matter what side of those issues you stand on.”
But in the wake of Wednesday’s assault on the Capitol, too many have turned to “whataboutism” and outright denials of the facts. It’s become a popular talking point among some to dismiss criticism of the right-wing mob by noting that left-wing mobs violently rioted in multiple U.S. cities last year in protest of police treatment of Black Americans. In a statement issued last week, the Wyoming Republican Party went as far as to suggest that those responsible for the mayhem at the Capitol should only face prosecution after those responsible for the other riots are brought to justice.
To be clear, the riots in places like Seattle and Minneapolis, St. Paul — which led to deaths and staggering amounts of property destruction — were horrific. In Wyoming, it’s hard to imagine how that level of lawlessness could possibly be tolerated.
But that doesn’t make what happened in the Capitol last week any less disgusting or wrong. And while last year’s riots attacked individual cities, and reminded many of us why we choose to live in Wyoming, Wednesday’s assault was an attack on the very foundation of our country.
Congress is truly “our House” — not in the sense that the rioters meant, as they chanted and marched through the building as if it was their personal playground, but that it’s the heart of our representative government.
“To those who wreaked havoc in our Capitol today, you did not win,” said Vice President Mike Pence. “Violence never wins. Freedom wins. And this is still the people’s house.”
Pence has himself been the subject of attacks from Trump and death threats from the president’s supporters. And all because the vice president had the audacity to conclude that he lacked the constitutional authority to overturn the results of November’s general election.
It’s just another example of how partisanship continues to replace principles in our public discourse. Increasingly, opinions aren’t so much based on facts as they are on short-term political convenience.
For instance, the Trump supporters clamoring for Congress or the vice president to overturn the results in certain swing states should seriously consider what that precedent might look like in four, eight or 12 years in the future under a Democrat-controlled Congress. State’s rights, separate powers and law and order — these are things we should stand for in all instances, including when it’s difficult.
As Congress reconvened Wednesday night, Pence said that, even amid the unprecedented violence and property destruction at the Capitol, the world would witness the resilience and strength of our democracy. Let’s prove him right.