An assault on democracy

Why the Jan. 6 attack on the capitol represented a low point for our country, and how we can right the wrong


On Wednesday, Jan. 6, the U.S. Capitol was breached. Four people died, two sessions of Congress were interrupted, and one of the biggest threats to our democracy was realized.

These criminals who unlawfully entered and threatened the Capitol were not peaceful protesters. They might have been at the beginning of the day, and they might have been if they never trespassed. But once somebody breaches a government building with the intent of stopping a legal or political process, they are a criminal. If one encourages these acts, they are encouraging dangerous criminal behavior.

These people were encouraged and inspired by one man. The sitting president at the time, Donald Trump. At a rally earlier in the day outside the White House, Trump told them to walk down to the Capitol building, telling them to never give up and lying about a fair election he claims was rigged. His own personal lawyer, former mayor of New York Rudy Guiliani, spoke of the need for a “trial by combat,” and while that was most likely meant to be a metaphor, some did not take it that way.

There is no substantial evidence to suggest that the presidential election was rigged. President Biden was predicted to win, and won by less than predicted. As of Jan.
6, USA Today reported that 62 lawsuits were filed challenging the election and 61 have not passed. The one that did pass did not change the outcome of the election.

These rioters were not there in support of our democracy, they were there in support of one person, Donald Trump. They waved flags showing that loyalty, flags with one man’s name on it: Trump. They showed where their loyalties lie: not with our institutions, but with one man and what he says. Historically, it is dangerous to cling to one leader over party, ideals, institutions, and country. It can lead to fascism and dictatorships, giving too much power to one person and not enough to the people.

It is no surprise to anyone that former president Trump encouraged, even wanted this violence. In a statement on that Wednesday, Trump further questioned the validity of the election, as well as saying “we love you” to those at the capitol.

Trump should still be convicted by the Senate, even though he is no longer in office, because that is justice. The justice we would show in this conviction is not to right a wrong, but to show future generations and future presidents that undermining our democratic institutions is not acceptable. To show the rest of the world that we have respect for our institutions, and that they are stronger than one man. We need to show these violators that violence by a small group will not outweigh the will of the people in a nation built on the principle of the power of the will of the people, otherwise known as a democracy.

Although we at the North Star are not experts in law enforcement tactics, it is evident that this group, which had previously expressed that they intended on going to the capitol building, was not treated with the same seriousness that many other demonstrations, such as the Black Lives Matter protests this summer.

Granted, the Capitol Police are not designed for an intrusion of the magnitude that occurred on Jan. 6. They are not equipped with riot gear, and their day-to-day
responsibilities are similar to a security company, but many of them did not treat the attackers the same way they did if they were people of color, or protesting for a different or opposite cause.

Some have called these rioters “patriots.” We would argue that they are the exact opposite. A patriot is someone who loves their country, and because of that love, wants to make it better. A patriot, because of their love of their country, would accept the will of the people, whether or not they would have preferred otherwise, because they respect the importance and validity of our institutions, the strongest institutions in the world that have withheld over 200 years of democratic elections. When one tries to interrupt the due process of the law and overturn a fair and free national election, they are not displaying patriotism. These people were unpatriotic in their actions, their words, and their cause.

In a speech later that night, Senator Cory Booker from New Jersey said that “Democracy is best when it is chosen by the people, not one person in power.” We the people have chosen a president, and his name is Joseph Biden. We chose him in a clear and fair election, and was confirmed by the electoral college, along with both chambers in congress. “One person in power” did try to change that, and he failed. That is what makes us proud of our country.

The U.S. has survived so long with democratically elected presidents because our institutions work, and because we show faith, not blind faith, in our institutions when they work and represent the people. The November 2020 elections did work, and they represented the people fairly. The people spoke, and they chose President Biden.

Now we need to continue. We need to continue with our fight in maintaining our institutions and keeping those in power in check when they break the law and threaten those institutions. We can do this by convicting Trump. We can do this by sharing how our institution of electing a new president did in fact work. Finally, we do this by going out to vote, and showing that we are a part of our government, that we, the people, have the right to free speech and our votes, and that we are what make our republic work.