Banana Republic despots have been known to incite riots in order to disrupt the legitimate independent function of legislatures. Verbal and physical intimidation of elected officials is not uncommon in “failed states,” but the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America had never been invaded by a mob incited by the President of the United States until Wednesday, January 6, 2021.
Both as candidate and President, Donald Trump has repeatedly warned about the imminent existential threat posed by caravans of foreign asylum seekers approaching our borders. In contrast, he has repeatedly downplayed the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic and right-wing domestic terrorists. He has encouraged the spread of the virus, false allegations of election fraud, and right-wing extremists. On Wednesday he sent this weaponized mix to the Capitol in order to disrupt a purely “pro forma” ceremonial announcement of the election results. He sought to overturn the previously recounted, litigated, and certified election of his successor.
Until Wednesday, our nation was recognized around the world for a peaceful transition of executive power. Despot Donald was aided and abetted in this riotous disruption by 139 members of the House and eight members of the Senate who demonstrated their allegiance to him, rather than the legislative branch or the Constitution. They chose to honor his personal banner that members of his mob had hung on the Capitol and the Confederate flag of insurrection and succession they had paraded through the Capitol, rather than the “Stars and Stripes” of our republic.
Fortunately, the mob did not burn down the Capitol, as Hitler burned down the Reichstag to consolidate his power, or the British did in the War of 1812, but they were equipped with weapons, bombs, and incendiaries to do so, and at least five Americans died in the president’s personal attack on our democracy. At this time, it is difficult to know or calculate all the damage that this narcissistic demagogue has inflicted on our democracy.
It turns out that the “wall” we needed was not the destructive, superfluous boondoggle photo-op along the border. It was a wall around the Capitol and our democratic institutions. The “caravan” we needed to fear was not the tired poor huddled masses yearning to be free. It was the mob of domestic extremists brainwashed and incited by the president himself.