The Moment We Were Waiting For
It has been an eventful few weeks and has taken me some time to feel ready to write about it. And while I'm glad that the transfer of power is complete and Joe Biden is the new president, the title of this post isn't referring to his inauguration. Instead, it refers to a very different event that I feel like I've been anticipating/dreading for 5 years, the attack on the Capitol on January 6. In its aftermath, there were many analyses of how the country had been building to this in the previous few months. Former-president and election loser, Donald Trump, along with right-wing media and many Republican members of Congress, repeatedly claimed the election results were fraudulent despite having no evidence. As his supporters heard this more and more, they grew angrier and angrier. Thousands went to Washington, D.C. to protest on the day Congress was scheduled to certify the results. Trump spoke to the protesters, encouraging them to march to the Capitol and to show strength. Then the protest turned into a mob that forced its way past police barricades and broke into the Capitol building, causing the entire Congress to evacuate. But, in my opinion, the seed for this attempt to violently overturn the election was planted with this:
The U.S. has become a dumping ground for everybody else’s problems.
Thank you. It’s true, and these are the best and the finest. When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.
That quote is from Donald Trump's speech declaring his run for the Republican presidential nomination in June 2015. And it's when he first revealed himself to be a dangerous person. After the Capitol attack, there were also many analyses about whether or not Donald Trump is a fascist. Personally, I don't know how anyone could be aware of that quote from over 5 years prior and think the answer isn't "ABSOLUTELY!" That announcement speech could be taught in schools to explain exactly how fascist movements begin. It makes the argument that every fascist leader makes:
- Tell people that they're special. After saying that Mexico doesn't send their best people, he even repeats the line "They’re not sending you."
- Tell people that the sources of all of their problems are external, and the solution is to blame other groups. That speech mainly focused on immigrants from foreign countries. But Trump expanded the list of evil "others" throughout his campaign and presidency to pretty much anyone who disagreed with him about anything.
Trump spent years building up a fiercely loyal base of supporters and constantly told them how much others had wronged them. And now that this has resulted in a very predictable but very horrifying outburst of violence, what do we do next? Unfortunately, so far Trump's enablers have changed nothing. Even after having to be evacuated on the afternoon of January 6, several Republican senators and many Republican house members stuck to their lie of widespread voter fraud and voted against certifying the election that night. Meanwhile, right-wing media decided to continue to play on their audience's fears to keep them on edge and tuned in. On the morning of Joe Biden's inauguration, there were headlines about other news sources being too nice to Biden, "Big Tech" restricting free speech, and the threat of Antifa. Granted, there were left-wing demonstrations in Portland and Seattle on Inauguration Day that did result in property damage, but they probably didn't require this level of coverage over the last week.
On the bright side, life has felt quieter since Donald Trump was banned from Twitter and finally left the White House. It's been nice no longer having a president who needs to constantly be the top headline every day. Maybe Joe Biden's calmer tone, his approach to handling the coronavirus pandemic, and the policy changes he makes will help to ease the tensions in the country. However, after the events of January 6, the rise of authoritarian regimes can no longer be viewed as a problem elsewhere in the world. It almost happened here in the United States and it still could in the future.