Toxic Politics: The Siege of the U.S. Capitol

As Congress had begun to officially count electoral votes on Wednesday, Jan. 5th, with just fifteen days till a new president is to be inaugurated, Americans were shocked by how quickly violence broke out in Washington D.C. After expressing concerns that the election was unethically stolen from him, President Trump hosted a rally and spoke by the Capitol, encouraging his supporters to “show strength” and march to the Capitol. Within hours, news broke that Trump supporters had broken into the Capitol, attempting to disrupt the electoral count to support President Trump’s allegations regarding the election. Not only did the attack on the Capitol serve as evidence for the severe political polarization in our nation, but it also increased debate about President Trump’s involvement in inciting violence and the boundaries of free speech. 

I find myself baffled by a consistent and persistent frustration: how there appears to be no empathy, rational thinking, or unity.

Whether you’re a Biden supporter or a Trump supporter, it seems as though the only common ground lies in both sides’ desires to fight for democracy. Trump supporters feel that an election was stolen from them and their voices were not heard, thus invalidating the democratic process, while Biden supporters feel that the election was indeed fair because President Trump is a living threat to democracy in the United States. I find myself baffled by a consistent and persistent frustration: how there appears to be no empathy, rational thinking, or unity. The Trump supporters’ siege to the Capitol lacked all rational thought and empathy. To endanger the lives of Congressmen and Congresswoman, simply because the results of a democratic election cannot be accepted, is frustrating to witness. Politically, there has to be the maturity to move on, and that is on both sides. The past four years cannot be changed, and now, the people have spoken. The people voted for a new president to be inaugurated on January 20th, and that must become an accepted reality in order to move on from the current era of toxic and divided politics. 

The attack to the Capitol not only posed a threat to the safety of those in the Capitol but also a threat to our humanity. It stirred a comparison of Black Lives Matter protests to the Capitol attack, a fear for our democracy, and a genuine fear of the current President and his influence. To me, Black Lives Matter goes beyond politics, and because of that, it feels unfair to compare a stand against discrimination to a politically-motivated siege to the Capitol. Individuals who stand with the BLM movement fight for rights of people of color, against the experiences of police brutality, and ultimately against racism, while those who marched to the Capitol expressed political discontent with the results of the recent democratic election. A comparison of such two events feels to lack empathy, where a continued invalidation of one’s experiences will never unite both sides. There needs to be more common ground than there is now, or else, a threat to our democracy feels real and ever so possible.

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