The Capitol siege is the ugliest representation of America

Wednesday’s attack on the Capitol and our very democracy had been a long time coming, due to factors that both directly involve Trump and precede him


AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

Police with guns drawn watch as protesters try to break into the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6 in Washington

No, America is not the worst country in the world. No, I don’t hate the United States. I am not writing this piece to tell everyone to pack their bags and hop onto the next flight to Denmark. I am writing to tell you that Wednesday’s pro-Trump Capitol terrorist attack was inevitable, and it should surprise no one.

Picture your favorite cooking show from the golden age. Perhaps you see someone like Julia Child saying: “First, add in a pinch of entitlement among white Americans. Then, a teaspoon of a mentally unhinged provocateur with a warped worldview. Then, let it simmer for over 5 years. Voilà! A spicy attempted insurrection of the government!”

I’m sure the images from the riot are still fresh in your mind, along with questions about why law enforcement was nearly powerless in keeping these terrorists outside of the capital of the nation and what we knew about the “Stop the Steal” rally before things went south. 

The answers to these questions aren’t shocking, but they’re still wildly infuriating. First, the reason why law enforcement was so easily overtaken is because the people who stormed the halls of the Capitol were doing so on behalf of the president, who instructed them to march there to “cheer on our brave congressmen and women.” In fact, Maryland governor Larry Hogan said that his requests to the Pentagon (which Trump has staffed and customized to his liking) to mobilize the National Guard were repeatedly denied, and, according to the Washington Post, the dynamic of the federal response wouldn’t shift from complacency to action for another three hours, leaving the Capitol police vastly outnumbered.

In terms of how much we knew, there’s no question that alarm bells should’ve been set off when Trump announced he’d be hosting a massive rally the day that Congress was set to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s win, especially when the president ended his tweet announcement with “Will be wild!” We all know how well things go whenever he uses language like that by now, do we not?

But why does all of this represent America? It’s not like all of us were rioting at the Capitol. While this doesn’t represent America on an individual level, it does showcase our greatest failures as a society and how Trump has been able to exploit them. After all, Trump was never the cause of America’s systemic racism or its ever-widening political divide, he’s just a catalyst that fueled it. Systemic inequality and neo-Nazi organizations didn’t suddenly materialize under Trump, nor did political hostility or outlandish conspiracy theories. But all of those things were given a newfound shelter and more oxygen the moment this president announced his candidacy, and once he won, he wasted no time defaming his critics, bullying political opponents, and defiling all of our greatest institutions. 

In fact, I would argue that Trump’s ascension to power is the most lucid example of America’s systemic shortcomings. This man never hid the things that make him the divider we all know today as president. He incited violence against reporters, promulgated the racist conspiracy theory about former President Barack Obama not being a natural-born citizen of the United States years before he even made a run for president, and constantly made overtly misogynistic remarks about what he could do with any woman he sees. But none of those things impeded his victory. No, they are what handed him the keys to the White House.

So what happens when a brutish pseudo-dictator who appeals to the most dark-hearted and cynical Americans loses his seat in power? The bomb that we allowed to be placed right next to the heart of democracy finally detonates, bringing down 5 lives and the sanctity of the nation’s capital with it.