The January 6 siege against the U.S. Capitol and the post insurrection polling raises serious questions for democracy.
Seeing the U.S. flag desecrated by insurrectionists attacking the Capitol, scaling its walls, and rampaging through the Capitol hallways is the worst thing that has happened to that flag. The insurrectionists clearly don’t know what that flag stands for any more than what the Capitol building stands for. Both are symbols of the democracy those seditious rioters were attempting to destroy. They are symbols of the rule of law and the Constitution.
As if that terrible picture is not enough, it gets more obscene when we realize that these traitors were organized and incited by the President of the United States. Trump brought them together; Trump encouraged them to attack the Capitol. His eldest son told the crowd that they were coming for those congressional representatives who did not support Trump. President Trump even told the crowd that he would join them at the Capitol. This was the “darkest hour” in American democracy.
And what has been the reaction? According to YouGov poll, 71% or all voters were opposed to the actions of Trump’s mob, but 45% of Republicans (21% of all voters) supported the storming of the Capitol. Apparently Republicans are willing to enthusiastically abandon democracy. It was Republicans who were trying to overturn the results of the presidential election because their candidate didn’t win. Even two unprincipled Wisconsin congressmen (Tiffany and Fitzgerald) voted to overturn the election after the assault on the Capitol. They claim the election results were “fraudulent”, or “rigged”, etc. But these “claims’ were presented to courts in many states. No claim was upheld by the courts. In our democratic system, it is the courts that resolve disputes. No one agrees with all court decisions all the time. But, in a democracy, we live with the decisions of the courts after the last legal appeal.
If Republicans, or anyone else is not willing to abide by legitimate judicial decisions, democracy is in terrible trouble. If 21% of the voters or 45 % of Republicans don’t understand the importance of following the law, then our citizenry is undereducated and dangerously ill informed. That is not to say people don’t have the right to protest, or march for things in which they believe. But, if they march for anarchy, or march for totalitarianism, they march against democracy.
They march to overturn our system of government; that is substantively different than people marching for a change in public policy. They and the rest of us should recognize that, and what it means for the peaceful future of the United States. It is not a good omen. It will lead to civil war, and those anti-democratic forces will be defeated, again.
In the meantime, we should enforce section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution which says, “No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress…or hold any office ..under the United States, or under any State who…shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against (the United States) or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.” Congressman Louie Gohmert called for Trump’s supporters to “violence in the streets” to prevent Joe Biden from taking office after the Supreme Court ruled against Trump. Sens. Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz certainly gave “aid and comfort” to the insurrectionists. All should be removed from Congress for aiding this rebellion.
Tom Fitzpatrick resides in La Crosse