The violent attack on the U.S. Capitol building was an attempt by a mob to stop — by force — Congress from carrying out its constitutional duty to count the votes of the Electoral College. President Trump, many of his allies and defenders and some Congressional Republicans bear a share of the responsibility for the breach of the Capitol and the five resulting deaths.
Intent can be debated, but it is not a matter of partisan disagreement that the president and his allies used language which encouraged and incited those domestic terrorists who marched on the Capitol.
After the Electoral College voted and elected Biden, President Trump and most of his party refused to acknowledge Biden’s victory and continued to propagate these false claims about the “theft” of the election. Trump used his Twitter account to criticize the few Republicans who did acknowledge Biden as the president-elect and the election as legitimate.
Some Republicans decided to help Trump fight the election results. On the morning of Jan. 6, thirteen Republican Senators planned to vote to object to the counting of electors from key swing states won by Biden. If they were successful and received the support of a majority of each chamber of Congress, this objection would nullify the electoral votes from key states, disenfranchising the citizens of those states and stripping President-elect Biden of his rightful victory.
That same morning, Jan. 6, thousands of Trump supporters were assembling in D.C. for a rally advertised and praised by the president for weeks leading up to it. (On Dec. 19, Trump tweeted about the rally, asking his supporters to “be there and be wild.”) In fact, Trump visited and spoke to these supporters on the National Mall just hours before some would attack the U.S. Capitol. Trump told the crowd, “We're going to walk down to the Capitol . . . Because you'll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength and you have to be strong.”
Donald Trump Jr. went on to tell the crowd, “Thank you for being in this fight with us. Thank you for standing up to the [expletive.]”
And the president’s lawyer told the emotionally-charged mob, “Let’s have trial by combat.”
Once the attack began, President Trump resisted sending in the National Guard when it was requested by D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser.
When the tear gas dissipated and the Capitol grounds were cleared of the terrorists, including known members of white supremacist groups and militias and well-known Trump supporters, President Trump released a video statement on Twitter in which he said, “We love these people.”
Republicans and Democrats are united; the words and actions of leaders matter. They shape what society deems as acceptable behavior and what their supporters view as the truth. The behavior exhibited by leaders serves as a model for the citizens they lead.
There are issues that are and should be political ones. But the strength and security of our democratic republic is not and should not be of those issues. We join with Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives alike to call for accountability for President Trump and his allies, including the possibility of sanction and removal from office.
As St. Mary’s students, we’ve been taught how to think critically and independently. We’ve been prepared to be leaders, to search for and speak the truth and to be active and engaged citizens. We have a responsibility to grapple with the issues of our time and to speak out about them.
All too often, a moment that seems pivotal — be it the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, the killing of George Floyd or the forceful clearing of Lafayette Park — is quickly moved past and accepted as a “normal” part of the times in which we live. But there have been events, like 9/11 and the Vietnam War, that have defined and inspired previous generations to take action and have shaped their public lives. We have a duty to make this the defining moment for our generation.
It’s true that as high school students there’s not much we can do now to respond to Wednesday’s events, but we can resolve to commit our lives to speak truth, think independently and combat violence, division and the assault on our democracy.
For & By Students
Our website videos were made in partnership with St. Mary's video-making publication, Bella Vista.
Click on the author or artist's name to view more of her work!
HAVE AN ARTICLE IN MIND?