Today, January 6, 2021, is a date which will live in infamy, to borrow President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s words after Pearl Harbor was attacked in 1941. Only today’s horrifying attack on American democracy wasn’t by a foreign force. It came from a treasonous mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol, forcing the building into lockdown, as Congress was meeting to formally certify President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 election. “At this hour, our democracy is under an unprecedented assault, unlike anything we’ve seen in modern times,” Biden said Wednesday afternoon.
The Capitol breach came just hours after the sitting U.S. president, Donald Trump, egged on the crowd at a rally, continuing his baseless claims of widespread election fraud and telling his supporters, “We will never give up, we will never concede.”
“This is what the president has caused today, this insurrection,” an angry Sen. Mitt Romney said.
In a videotaped message later in the day, Trump urged his supporters to go home, but continued to deny reality — and enflame those supporters — by claiming that the election was stolen from him, and from them. “We love you. You’re very special,” he added.
We at The Fiscal Times generally look to “stay in our lane,” to focus our coverage on the policy issues that are vital to America’s future. We were all set to tell you about the implications of Democrats’ victories in Georgia’s Senate runoff races — and we will. But that future depends on the health of our democracy, and the heartbreaking and undemocratic events of the day demand that all Americans, including Trump and his most ardent supporters, heed FDR’s exhortation from nearly 70 years ago in responding to the attack. We must all “make it very certain that this form of treachery shall never again endanger us.”
To be clear: Unlike FDR’s speech, this is not a call to arms, or a declaration of war. But it is an appeal to all Americans to recognize the danger of Wednesday’s insurrection, call out the forces that led to the mob attack on the Capitol and stand up for facts over fantasy and, trite as it may sound, civility instead of civil war.
“The scenes of chaos at the Capitol do not reflect a true America, do not represent who we are,” Biden told the nation Wednesday afternoon. “Like so many other Americans, I am genuinely shocked and saddened that our nation, so long a beacon of light and hope for Democracy, has come to such a dark moment.”
Trump’s enablers in Congress may not have expected their election challenges and fealty to Trump and his base would lead to such a moment, and weren’t actively seeking this outcome. “What is the downside for humoring him for this little bit of time? No one seriously thinks the results will change,” one senior Republican official told The Washington Post way back in November. “It’s not like he’s plotting how to prevent Joe Biden from taking power on Jan. 20. He’s tweeting about filing some lawsuits, those lawsuits will fail, then he’ll tweet some more about how the election was stolen, and then he’ll leave.”
We know now how shortsighted and foolhardy that approach was. Trump isn’t backing away from his inflammatory election claims, but his enablers must now realize they have been playing with fire, or flirting with sedition.
Maybe this is the shock those enablers, and we as a nation, need to back away from the dangerous path Trump has set.