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Opinions on Wednesday at the Capitol

Below, three writers from the Opinion section share their thoughts on the Capitol break-in and its ramifications.

Insurrection at the Capitol Shows Us Anti-Racism Work is Far From Over

Mimia Ousilas 

This past summer, peaceful protests following the death of George Floyd were met with a military-like police response. Officers in riot gear released tear gas and rubber bullets onto protesters fighting against the very brutality that has killed countless Black lives in the United States. Even protests of less than 15 people faced lines of cops dressed as soldiers, ready for war. 

But on Wednesday, when Americans turned on the news to see violent supporters of President Donald Trump storm the Capitol and make themselves comfortable in senators’ offices, there was no sign of anything close to the extreme police response we saw repeatedly at Black Lives Matter protests. Rioters were met with light resistance, and arrests weren’t made until days later. 

It is times like these that we remain saddened and angry, but not surprised. It is no question that if Black people broke their way into the building, or if they were carrying Black Lives Matter signs instead of confederate flags, the scene would’ve looked drastically different. 

No matter how many times we paint “Black Lives Matter” on our streets, it will not change the fact that a group of people seeking justice for Black lives will be met with violence, while white supremacists objecting a fair election process may attempt a coup, strolling into one of the highest offices in this nation, will meet virtually no resistance. Incited and provoked by President Trump himself, the legacy of white supremacy in this country has become frighteningly apparent. 

While this may feel like a breaking point for many and a triumph for others, what we cannot dispute is that this moment will go down in history. As we decide how people will look back on this event, we as students, faculty, and citizens must maintain integrity in what we believe to be credible, true, and just. We must make sure this event is remembered as a domestic terrorist attack, not a protest, and that we hold President Trump accountable for inciting and encouraging these actions. 

It is crucial that we do not forget what this terrorist attack means for us. It means the work is far from over. It means that we must be frank in acknowledging the legacy of white supremacy in our country. And it means that we cannot stop now. 

Republicans Rejecting Trump After Capitol Attack Deserve No Credit

Kieran Sullivan 

As of Sunday, January 10, four days after the attack on the Capitol, two Republican Senators, Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Pat Toomey (R-PA), have called on President Trump to resign. While no other prominent Republicans have gone this far, many have recently taken some form of action against Trump. Many cabinet members and White House officials, including Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, resigned following the events at the Capitol. What these officials did was not noble. These actions are merely a feeble effort at self-preservation, like rats fleeing a sinking ship. The GOP, including the officials who are now desperately attempting to distance themselves from Trump, refused to take a stand until the Capitol was taken over by white supremacists and their own lives were at risk. They must pay the price. 

When Trump attempted to illegally pressure Ukraine to provide him with political ammunition against president-elect Joe Biden, only one Republican senator, Mitt Romney (R-UT), voted to convict him. DeVos campaigned for Trump during breaks in her conquest to destroy public education, yet now runs away from him to salvage her reputation. According to FiveThirtyEight’s tracking of Congress, 57 of the 63 GOP senators who have served during the Trump administration have voted with him over 80 percent of the time.

The fact that many GOP senators broke with Trump and said that he needed to accept the results of the election is no excuse, as this is what any senator should be expected to do when there is a clear winner of an election. It is also important to keep in mind that many of the officials in the news for rescinding their support of the President are the ones who were already more outspoken against him. The vast majority of Republican politicians have been even less critical of Trump, and should be put under an even harsher level of scrutiny. For instance, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who has become such a close ally of President Trump that they played golf together on Christmas just two and a half weeks ago, is only now pushing back, stating, “The president needs to understand that his actions were the problem, not the solution.” These objections to Trump in the eleventh hour of his presidency are a tactic that Republicans are using to try to get off the hook for standing by him over the past four years. 

The actions of these government officials during the past few days has not been brave. It isn’t some grand courageous action to declare inciting a terrorist attack on the Capitol wrong, especially when most never spoke up against the man who incited it.

This should not have been the last straw for these Republicans. It shouldn’t have taken a riot inside our nation’s highest legislative chambers for them to realize the havoc Trump was wreaking on the country. Next time these politicians are up for election, voters should consider how they acted during the first 1448 days of the Trump administration, not during the last 14. 

The Capitol Riots Will Ultimately Have a Positive Impact on History

Jack Wilan 

Donald J. Trump is deep in a pile of crap of his own making. His entire presidency epitomized in one epic clash between his toxic lies and mania and the democratic institution that is supposed to be the United States. While the despicable scenes and acts of this day will be remembered in infamy for the rest of our country’s history, they will ultimately have been a catalyst for positive movement in our country. 

Having such a poignant and tumultuous end to an incredibly unconventional presidency will allow the U.S. as a country to definitively disown Trump and his administration and bring people to terms with reality. The dangerous implications of Trump’s words and actions can no longer be denied because Americans have now seen them– and it was hideous. The tide of political favor has finally been turned against him and he knows it. His direct actions literally put members of congress and Mike Pence’s lives at risk which was a very poor idea on his part. There’s not a much better way to attract political disfavor than to toy with and endanger the lives of those who had been loyal to you this entire time. One almost has to feel bad for Mike Pence – almost. After years of pandering and kowtowing to Trump to grow popularity for a run of his own, Trump sends rioters calling for him to be hanged in front of the Capitol. Poor, pathetic Pence, he will not be fondly remembered. 

Before the riots, there had been many Republicans unwilling to support Trump’s election lies. But afterwards, even people such as Trump’s South Carolina puppy dog, Lindsey Graham, took to denouncing the president and his accusations. Cabinet members quit, senators called for his impeachment, and Trump had his very favorite vocal platform, Twitter, wrested away from him. The riot has now been labeled as a “political coup,” but what can hearten America is that if it was indeed a coup, then it was a failure. It is true that the rioters made their way into the building and defaced our Capitol, but they failed at their goal. At the end of the day, all they did was convince more senators to vote for democracy; and at the end of the day, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were confirmed as the rightful leaders of the U.S. and democracy prevailed.  

The coalition between Trump’s populist base and the religious, old conservatives represented by Mike Pence is finally falling apart in the last days of his presidency, and that will likely weaken the Republican Party for many years to come. We have already seen impacts of Trump’s separation from the Republican Party in the Georgia runoff elections, and the divide is only growing. With a weaker Republican Party, we have a stronger nation, and hopefully the backlash from the Capitol Riot will catalyze this change.