By Chris Swann
Staff Photographer

Photo illustration by Chris Swann
According to the Department of Defense, the U.S. Flag Code states the flag should never be flown upside down unless trying to signal dire danger or distress. The incidents that occurred in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6 have been felt by many as a time of great anguish for the country, which this illustration displays. The reflection in the water displays an upright American flag representing the idea of what the nation could become in the aftermath of the raid on the Capitol. This visual representation is not made to be disrespectful.

A mob of pro-Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol building on Jan. 6 in an attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election as Congress was in session to certify Joe Biden’s victory. The demonstrations led to multiple injuries and five deaths.
At 2:15 p.m. Jan. 6, as lawmakers were in session debating a Republican-led objection to the certification of Arizona’s electors, the Secret Service removed Vice President Mike Pence from the chamber and the Capitol building was placed on lockdown. Lawmakers were told to duck behind their seats and put on protective gas masks after tear gas was used in the Capitol Rotunda.
Grace Segars, a CBS News political reporter, was sitting inside the press Senate gallery as the events were unfolding. “Soon, Senate gallery staffers were shouting ‘lock the doors,’ and it was clear that the situation was serious,” Segars said in a CBS article. Reporters were ushered into the press gallery above the Senate chamber and the doors were locked. “We could hear the muffled sound of the rioters outside,” Segars said in the article.
Lawmakers were soon evacuated from the chamber to an undisclosed location along with the press, while staffers grabbed the boxes containing the electoral college ballots in order to protect them from being destroyed by the invading mob.
The protesters breached security outside and broke through windows, climbing into the corridors of the Capitol, storming multiple congressional offices, and soon the Senate chamber. One photograph shows an individual raising a fist and yelling while standing at the chair of the Chief Justice.
Multiple people were injured, and five were killed. President George W. Bush called it a “sickening and disheartening sight . . . this is how elections are disputed in a banana republic – not our democratic republic.”
These protesters may have been motivated by President Donald Trump, who has continuously criticized the security of the 2020 election and called on his supporters to march at Washington D.C. on the day of the Senate vote. This is a culmination of rhetoric that the president had spearheaded well before the 2020 election: one that has left the nation so polarized, many say it could have lasting ramifications on the nation’s government and democracy itself.
The ex-president’s complete indifference to the crucial tradition of the peaceful transition of power, and the refusal to concede to the winning candidate, ended the 220-year custom started by Federalist John Adams in the 1800 election. The fact that Trump and members of his team insisted he was still the winner and the election was stolen from him, undermines the integrity of the U.S. elections and makes confidence in the system completely tank. While there is no factual evidence of enough widespread voter fraud to have overturned the election back to Trump’s side, he insisted the MAGA train will chug on and give him four more years, without solid proof.
The systems in place did their jobs. Hours after the Capitol chaos, Congress certified Joe Biden and Kamala Harris’ victory. Also, 14 days later, they were sworn in as the 46th president and the 49th vice president (and the first woman to hold the office).
Congress introduced articles of impeachment against Trump on Jan. 13, one week before his term was set to expire, with a charge of “Incitement of Insurrection.” A result of not only the Capitol raid, but also a Jan. 2 phone call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, where leaked audio obtained by The Washington Post captured the president threatening Raffensperger to find 11,780 votes, altering the outcome of the 2020 election in that state. The charges were sent to the Senate on Jan. 25 to begin the trial.
But it’s not an issue of our government itself. It’s more of an issue with American attitude as we know it. The ever-increasing polarization of the two dominant political parties has reached a new high. Not only has this increasing partisanship been the primary cause of many key items of legislation to be vetoed in both Obama and Trump’s administrations, but it has also divided political bases seemingly beyond reconciliation. According to a 2014 Pew Research Center study, among all Democrats, 27% say GOP policies are a threat to the well-being of the country; among all Republicans, more than a third (36%) think Democratic policies threaten the nation. Stances on key issues like gun reform, reproductive rights, and immigration between politicians and their constituents on the right and left are polar opposites. Stances are often personal and debated with passion, derived from either racial or religious backgrounds. According to the same Pew Research Center Study, compromise is in the eye of the beholder, as consistent liberals and conservatives define ideal political compromise as one in which their side gets more of what it wants.
This shows the modern version of American democracy we know today is not the same version our founding fathers designed, but rather a weak democracy of disillusion, disparity and gridlock. And it doesn’t look like it will change any time soon.

8 COMMENTS

  1. I have heard Trump supports say that the attack on the Capitol is no difference than the rights that happened over the summer. I strongly disagree. While I don’t agree with the looting and vandalism that happened this past summer these two things are not the same. What happened on January 6th was a terrriost attack encouraged by the one person who swore an oath to defend our country against terroist. Our country is in a said state right now, but I’m hopeful that healing can come, that we can see change. It won’t start in the Capitol it has to start with us.

  2. I think Trump got the punishment he deserved even thought he might have not told them to do it he did encourage his supporters and he’s a well known public figure and there are some people who look up to him that they would do anything that felt necessary in their minds to satisfy his needs because he is in influence to them and the supporters will do whatever they feel is important to their role model whether it hurts other people or not if Trump doesn’t show support in a positive way how can his fans expect to behave their behavior is implicated on based off of his actions so if he keeps doing it so will everyone else to hold up to their end of the deal. I think if we learn to do better and the world wouldn’t get so caught up and this fantasy life where they have to amuse others to feel satisfaction and they don’t need validate from anyone but themselves and that is why I think Trump Should be held accountable for his actions because if he is responsible for his audience and if he doesn’t tell how to control their conduct hey will take matters into their own hands which can complicates things causing problems to go south.

  3. It amazes me how a group of white surprimassist can march to the capital and come to the front door with no injuries, death or arrest. If that was an BLM group or movement then it would be a whole other story. The tables would definetly be turned and there would have been blood thats totally gut wrenching honestly

  4. I honestly agree with this article. The fact that so many people were rash at making decisions that stained our democracy is just sad. It is quite obvious that our democracy is continuing to change throughout our years of governing ourselves. As the citizens of this union we should’ve been more thoughtful and optimistic about this new election rather than destroying property that isn’t ours. This raid will forever be in our history since it just was unexpected and ignorant.

  5. I think the argument between BLM and Capitol riots is a waste of time and oxygen. When it comes to these matters, they were/are both wrong and both sets of people are terrorists. Now don’t get me wrong. Do black lives matter? OF COURSE THEY DO!! Should people stand up for what they believe in for the economy and government? OF COURSE THEY SHOULD!! At the same time, should people burn buildings and loot stores? Absolutely not. Should people storm the Capitol because they think it will actually do something good? Absolutely not. We all as Americans have a right to protest peacefully. There were peaceful protests on both sides of this argument and people who weren’t peaceful. It really just boils down to good Americans who are practicing their inalienable rights, and terrorists who just want to cause trouble.

  6. Great article! I would only add that I believe that the solution lies in getting away from defining ourselves and others by our/their politics and get back to viewing each other through the lens of humanity. I believe that, at the basic bottom line of it all, we ALL want the same thing for our country. We want to see it prosper, do well, be safe, be secure, provide ample opportunity for all to achieve and succeed. Our difference lie in our views of the details of what that looks like and the best path to get there. We need to stop talking AT each other and get back to talking WITH each other. We also need to rediscover the arts of communication and compromise. We have a lot of work to do and some of it will be difficult, but I have faith that we are capable of it.

  7. This was a well-written article and it brought up some good points. Perhaps the one thing I would disagree with is the statement, “But it’s not an issue of our government itself. It’s more of an issue with American attitude as we know it” as I believe both the government and the intense attitudes of the public played a role in this issue. Opinionated attitudes may have served as the spark for the flames that led to these acts, but the government could have stopped those sparks from catching fire if this issue had been acknowledged earlier on. The Capitol riots were a culmination of similar scenes of intimidation played out by extremist militias and hostile mobs throughout 2020. White supremacist groups were met with minimum, if any, consequences for their actions and continuously emboldened by individuals in positions of power. Perhaps if these extremist groups had been faced with greater opposition from the start the Capitol riots would have never occurred. It is truly frustrating and depressing for our country to have reached such a state. I agree that positive change will unfortunately come slowly, but hopefully it will eventually arrive.

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