I was recently telling a friend that I had no concerns about the future of the USA because, as bad as things as have ever been, there was one thing that was always clear about American democracy: ever since Washington stepped down, there had always been a peaceful transfer of power in this country.
This rich tradition stood in contrast to other parts of the world, where violent behavior by losers in an election could be seen as threats to basic democratic principles.
Today, with shots fired inside the US Capitol, violent protesters attempting to take over the building, and a general demonstration of willingness to undermine democracy, that tradition violently came to an end. As of this writing, at least one person has been killed, at least a hundred people have been wounded, and America’s image as a proud beacon of democracy lays in tatters.
I am a partisan but this is not a partisan note: this is an American note and let’s be clear, this was an attack on America. While there is a constitutional right to protest, the seizure of the Capitol is not a protected right. And when someone tries to break into the Capitol of the United States of America at a time when the democratic process of counting the ballots of the electoral college is happening, this effort was meant to terrorize and thus could be classified as a terrorist attack.
Anyone who fails to denounce this effort in the strongest possible term could be considered guilty of sedition against the United States, sitting alongside the people who attacked American democracy. Since the president was addressing the group earlier this morning (the headline quote was “We will never concede”), Congress should also consider whether his actions this morning constituted incitement to riot and whether another impeachment proceeding should be fast-tracked.
Dictators around the rest of the world will replay today’s event over and over as tools to demonstrate either the weakness of the American system or its failure. Either way, this protest will be used on recruiting videos for anti-American terrorist groups for years to come.
A few days ago, there were reports of a potential threat from Iranians around the counting of our electoral college votes. It turned out that the external threat wasn’t as strong as the internal threat of domestic terrorists.
And unless we find a way to prosecute those involved in today’s events (including the public figures who created the conditions for today by giving voice to the claims of a stolen election), then this could be seen as the day America died.