The takeover of the Capitol building on Jan. 6, 2021 happened because the rioters attempted to stop Congress from certifying the electoral college vote count, that would give the presidency to Joe Biden. In the morning of Jan. 6, Eric Trump warmed up the crowd, former mayor of New York, Mr. Giuliani, called for “trial by combat,” and President Trump exhorted his followers to “fight like hell,” which they did later as they desecrated the Capitol building, a symbol of democracy.
The mob were not simply “peaceful protesters.” This entire event appeared to be a well-designed and well-planned coup d’état, inspired by the words of the president of the U.S. Meanwhile, Mr. Trump never marched with the rioters but had the Secret Service escort him to the White House. The crowd set up gallows near the grounds of the Capitol building and chanted “Hang Mike Pence.” Note well: This happened in Washington, D.C., rather than in Moscow or Tiananmen Square.
Five people died during the wild battle between rioters and police. Brian Sicknick, a policeman, was killed and the Capitol Police reported on Jan. 26 that nearly 140 officers were injured, some of whom had smashed spinal discs or had concussions, plus two officers present during the melee on Jan. 6 have since committed suicide.
We’re lucky that Vice President Mike Pence, Nancy Pelosi, and Mitch McConnell and others were not shot or taken captive by the unruly mob. The entire Congress could have been killed, throwing our democracy into chaos, thus possibly giving Mr. Trump four more years as president.
Apparently, Mr. Trump watched this scene on TV and failed to call off the rioters or call in the National Guard to stop the desecration of the Capitol Building. Trump was a mere phone call away from stopping this riotous behavior, in which his own vice president was minutes away from the grasp of the violent mob. Instead, it took hours, not minutes, before the police secured the Capitol building.
Donald Trump’s attack on the Capitol did not come out of the blue (or red), but should be understood as symptomatic of a national sickness. The Trump aberration was the product of several forces. For over two decades the GOP stood behind plutocrats or Big Money and Republican values stood for gerrymandering (redistricting) and voter suppression.
After the 2020 election, Republicans in Texas will control redistricting or drawing electoral boundaries in their own favor for the next decade. Nationally, Trump put over two hundred judges, all GOP conservatives, on district and circuit courts, plus he placed three conservative Republican judges on the Supreme Court.
In Texas, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott only allowed one drop-off location for each county. This meant that Harris County had to close 11 drop-off locations. Hence, in the city of Houston there was ONE drop-off site for nearly 5 million voters!
The attempted coup that occurred on Jan. 6 would not have occurred if Facebook, Twitter, Parler and other tech companies had not given the rioters online tools for spreading mis/disinformation. Under the Trump administration, the tech giants were not accountable for their actions.
What will happen to the rioters? Several government agencies such as the F.B.I. federal marshals, and intelligence services will jail many of the rioters on minor charges. About 100 or more leaders of the Oath Keepers, Proud Boys, Ku Klux Klan, and other white supremacists will be put on trial in Washington, D.C., en masse. Prosecutors will charge them for sedition, murder, stealing government documents, and other serious charges. This may not occur before 2022 since there have been hundred of thousands of photos taken by cameras and rioters themselves that will take time to evaluate.
In one week as president, Biden signed over 30 executive orders, such as: his call for a science-based approach to fighting Covid-19, re-commitment of the U.S. to the Paris Climate accord, laid the ground to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, stopped the construction of the wall between the U.S. and Mexico, reinstated the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, and reversed Trump’s policy that forbade people from seven mainly Muslim countries to come to the U.S.
Limitations of space do not allow me to say more. In sum, I suggest that the Biden administration is analogous to the Trump administration as day is to night, light is to darkness.
Richard Penaskovic is an Emeritus Professor at Auburn University. His writings have appeared in the Birmingham News, Columbus- Ledger Enquirer, Montgomery Advertiser and online by Informed Comment and Politurco.