“Enough is enough is enough,” said President-elect Joe Biden after his address to the nation Wednesday afternoon as a mob of Trump supporters attempted to seize control of the U.S. Capitol.
Yesterday was an insurrection led by a faction — not half of the nation. Not a party.
It was a sickening display, an embarrassing moment in U.S. history.
It was not a coup attempt. It was bullying to the nth degree.
The day was a sum of the parts of the past four years: assaults on the rule of law, lies, violence incited. We saw mob rule on an American institution.
While Biden condemned the disruption of the certification of the Electoral College results — “the people’s work” — President Trump had a different agenda: He held a noontime rally where he urged supporters to march to the U.S. Capitol. He offered to join them in that march. But he urged the mob to march.
Then, hours after the riotous mob rushed the metal barriers, slammed the police (they claim they covet) and stormed the U.S. Capitol, taking over the chambers of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, President Trump again lied to America, telling us he he had won the election in a landslide, but urged his supporters — whom he said he “loved” — to go home. Peace had to be restored.
That was after Vice President Mike Pence was whisked away to a safe place, and members of Congress and their staffs had to barricade themselves in their offices, or seek safety in the hallowed building.
Americans and the world watched in fear and disbelief, sickened.
The protesters did not walk away. They resisted, determined to stay and do damage. Harsh words and threats were made against Democrats, media organizations and specific journalists. Confederate flags were flown in the chambers; members of Congress’ desks were vandalized and damaged.
Four hours after it started, as darkness descended on Washington, D.C., and an hour before a curfew was set to begin, chemical irritants were deployed by law enforcement to disperse the crowd of Americans.
The National Guard had to be called up. Mutual aid from local police and Virginia and Maryland state troopers had to regain control outside the U.S. Capitol.
For now questions of preparedness can wait. The concern about how many ways this went badly will be discussed for decades.
For sure, the protesters had every right to be there. They were well within their right to congregate and exercise their First Amendment right to vocalize their opposition to the election results.
But this was shameful. This is not how “patriots” behave.
This was a gathering with an intent to cause harm. It was, amazingly, a scene straight from Sinclair Lewis’s “It Can’t Happen Here,” a 1935 dystopian political novel that describes the rise of a U.S. dictator similar to how Adolf Hitler gained power. In it, mobs rise up at the urging of a threatened autocrat.
Biden pointed out during his address that the scenes of chaos at the “palace of democracy” did not represent a true America. This was not an act of patriotism by any stretch of the imagination. These were thugs in a gathering of thugs.
By example, when an individual was injured inside the Capitol, an ambulance had to be called. And emergency personnel were obstructed, confronted and the mob put up a fight toward the injured individual’s care. All that was of concern was that good will would not be achieved — possibly of one of their own.
Reporters were openly attacked at the scene, camera equipment was trashed and smashed. A print reporter from The Washington Post was surrounded and threatened, audibly shaken as she phoned in a report. One Trump supporter with a megaphone encouraged the crowd outside the East Entrance to go on and attack media outlets and harass journalists “as our movement continues beyond today, tomorrow and whatever comes next.”
What now? The politics of this day will become very interesting and more tense.
Now with Democrats poised to take control of the U.S. Senate with the Georgia wins of Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, both Democrats, the majority switches come Jan. 20. That will elicit more hate and frustration. It’s not just about Republicans regrouping; it’s about what is said and done next.
During the coming 14 days, Trump can (and will) certainly fan the flames. The stress test will be ongoing, and there is a risk, in some ways, that Jan. 6, 2021, could embolden Trump to be more autocratic.
Certainly, Biden has to grapple with with Trump picking at the divisions in America. While he needs to heal the nation, this day — one that none of us will soon forget — demonstrates our nation has sustained some nasty wounds.
At some point, we will need to be reassured that we can’t endure in black and white, red and blue. That in this darkest hour of broken glass, tear gas, lies — creating sickening fear and fresh violence — we are, in fact, able to uphold, maintain and preserve a democracy.
Enough is enough is enough.