6 January 2021: An American Story

By Ande Jacobson

On 6 January 2021, the story unfolding in real time was more confounding and disturbing than any work of fiction I have ever read, and I couldn’t look away. Sadly, it also wasn’t unexpected based on the sitting president’s behavior throughout his term of office and before that as a private citizen. This administration was the runaway train that would inevitably crash where it did on this day.

In the U.S., the certification of the Electoral College is normally a mostly ceremonial but constitutionally mandated joint session of Congress that is the final step before inauguration in closing out a presidential election. The 2020 election was decisive by both the popular vote (by over 7 million) and the Electoral College (306-232) unequivocally electing Joe Biden President and Kamala Harris Vice President of the United States of America. This was no small margin of victory in an election with the largest percentage turnout of eligible voters since 1900.

Several of the sitting president’s enablers in Congress had vowed to disrupt the certification of the Electoral College results knowing full well that their objections would be voted down. This too is a constitutionally protected action even though they had no factual basis for their objections this time. These members of Congress were planning to object strictly to pander to a base they wanted to impress for future elections.

Beyond the normal congressional processes, the sitting president refused to accept the will of the people and actively disputed the election results. He could not accept that he lost to Joe Biden. In his mind, the only legitimate election was one that he won. His attorneys litigated his fallacious allegations through the courts and were turned away for lack of evidence in every case save for one minor procedural matter involving who could stand where during the counting process, but even that didn’t change any of the results. Despite the indisputable election results, the sitting president lied about non-existent fraud and continually encouraged his supporters to actively and physically fight in his favor directly inciting violence for weeks over his fictional view of the election. In response, Washington, D.C. became a battleground on this historic day.

As was reported in the media and in political commentary, the Confederate flag has never before flown at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., not even during the Civil War, but on 6 January 2021, insurgents carried that flag and more over the barricades and into the Capitol building. They threatened police and lawmakers, and they vandalized the people’s house. Congress members hid behind and under their desks until they were directed by the Capitol police to take their gas masks, exit the chamber, and proceed to an undisclosed location where they were sequestered for several hours as the insurrection continued. Many of the insurgents were armed, and this was nothing short of an attempted coup.

To reiterate – a sitting president and his followers attempted a coup in the United States of America on 6 January 2021.

The story unfolded live across the world throughout the day. The images of insurgents scaling the barricades, breaking windows, defacing statues, vandalizing the chambers of our federal government, and standing off with police inside the House chamber were horrific and heartbreaking.

I’ve had the honor of sitting in the Senate gallery before – on the final day of the 102nd Congress Senate Session in October 1992. The grandeur and history in the Capitol were breathtaking. So much history is represented there, and it was an honor to sit in that room and watch our government in action that day. With the insurgency of 6 January 2021, even after the pandemic eventually subsides, it’s unlikely that the public will have that opportunity again, and that is a tragedy.

It wasn’t until well after dark that Congress finally came back from their undisclosed location and resumed their proceedings. Despite the events of the day, there were still almost 140 Republican House members and 6 Republican Senators who disputed a second state’s electoral results. Some Republican House members attempted to dispute other states, but they only had Senate co-authors for their challenges to force debate on two states, Arizona and Pennsylvania. In the end, it didn’t matter. The Electoral votes stood. Joe Biden was certified as the President-Elect, and Kamala Harris was certified as the Vice President-Elect with 306 Electoral votes. They will be inaugurated on 20 January 2021.

There is no doubt that those Republican Congress members challenging the vote added fuel to the violence that erupted on that fateful day. Going forward, the people need to remember that these men and women put self-interest and currying the favor of an unhinged leader over country and attempted to tarnish the holding of fair and free elections that are the bedrock of our democracy. Do not forget who these members of Congress were when their terms are up. They have defiled their oaths of office in making baseless challenges, and while they may not be censured for their actions now, they should not be reelected.

And the sitting president? Time will tell what consequences will be wrought, but there must be consequences for fomenting a coup attempt, failed or not, or it will happen again.


References:
What happened at the Capitol was an attempted coup. Call it that
Letters From an American – January 6, 2021
Congress Certifies Biden Victory; Trump Pledges ‘Orderly Transition’ On Jan. 20
Republican congressman calls for Trump’s removal from office
Explainer: Trump is heading for second impeachment. Here’s how it could play out
Here Are The Republicans Who Objected To The Electoral College Count
Randy Rainbow – Sedition


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