The blame for today’s reprehensible events at the U.S. Capitol lays primarily at the feet of the criminals and terrorists who stormed and vandalized the building. They chose to do what they did, and should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. But there are others who bear at least some responsibility for getting America to where it is today.
An obvious candidate for scorn is President Donald Trump (R), who continues to claim—falsely—that his reelection was stolen by widespread voter fraud. Oh, there was fraud, as there is in every election, but it was not enough to change the result. The only state where the outcome is really in question is Pennsylvania, and it alone would not be enough to give Trump a win. President Trump, you contributed to this outrage.
But he is not alone.
Many of Trump’s opponents have spent the last four years telling Americans that the 2016 election was fraudulent and that Trump is in league with the Russians. They, too, fought an election outcome they didn’t like with a load of baseless nonsense. Those who espoused the “RussiaGate” conspiracy theory—Representative Nancy Pelosi (D-CA 12th) and Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA 28th) foremost among them—contributed to this outrage too.
The pro-Trump sycophants who put their loyalty to this president over their loyalty to their country . . . and the truth.
The extremist wings of “Antifa” and “BLM” who have been burning down their cities over the last year and normalizing this kind of violence.
The liars in the media who labeled all those riots “mostly peaceful,” thus amplifying their normalization.
Those of you who fall into these (and other) categories might not have stormed the Capitol Building today, but you helped lay the groundwork that made it possible. You helped inflame the hate and mistrust. And most of you probably feel all high and righteous about it, since, obviously, you are “right” and everybody else is “wrong.” That’s all that matters, right?
Before the U.S. Capitol Police had even finished securing the building, fingers were pointing in predictable ways. If you wade into the slightly off-center parts of the Internet, you’ll find left-wing tirades about the fascist Trump and right-wing tirades about an imagined stolen election. And while most of our elected leaders (Trump, notably, excluded) are saying the right things—condemning the violence and calling for unity—they helped make this monster and kept it well fed on decades of hyper-partisanship and hypocrisy. Their platitudes ring hollow.
I condemn those who laid siege to the Capitol Building today. And I condemn those who put partisanship above sanity. And those who put love or hate of a president above love of country. I condemn those who lie and dissemble, and those who support violence—tacitly or explicitly—when there are political points to be scored. And I condemn those who have spent years feeding this cycle of blind hate and whataboutism.
What happened today is not okay, but it is also not surprising. It is another bit of political mayhem capping years of conspiracy theories, riots, and anger across the political spectrum. And even if it motivates us to step back from the brink for a little while, any “era of good feelings” is unlikely to last. The underlying dynamics that got us here have not changed.
I have no solution to offer. For as many years as I have seen our political discourse degrading, I have argued against it. And I have tried to keep my own political commentary and analysis civil and honest. But that’s just about all I can do. Until large majorities of America’s politicians, media personalities, and citizens start being civil and honest too, I’ll just be one voice in the wilderness trying to stop the unstoppable.