Disclaimer: This article was written by a member of the LHS community who is not a part of the Journalism class. Any points of view expressed in this article are specifically those of the student.
This article was written immediately after the events of January 6th, 2021.
On January 5th, 2020, the once deep-red state of Georgia chose to send a Jewish son of an immigrant and a black pastor to the United States Senate by an inspiring margin.
Once again, millions around our country, and many more around the world felt as if we were moving on from the cynical and hateful ways of 21st-century politics. Less than 24 hours later, we were painfully reminded that seeds of polarization and hatred had already been planted, and were beginning to sprout.
For the first time since 1814, the United States Capitol was stormed by men and women with the desire to undermine our sovereignty. For the first time since 1861, the United States faced a violent, seditious threat to our unity. For the first time in the history of our nation, the United States will not have a peaceful transfer of power, shattering a tradition that began with the revolution of 1800. This was an attack on our democracy.
This attack was conducted by our brothers and sisters, by our friends, by our neighbors. But their waving of our sacred flag, their chanting of our nation’s initials, and their misguided belief that they were fighting for a necessary change in our constitutional practice does not warrant them the title of “patriot“. These were not men and women fighting for our country, they were fighting against it. They stormed perhaps the most influential beacon of freedom and liberty in the world. They stormed our sacred symbol of sovereignty, our temple of democracy, in an attempt to disrupt the final certification of an election that was decided months ago.
A president once said that the greatest leaders are not the ones who do the greatest things, but the ones who get “we the people” to do the greatest things. On the 6th, we learned that statement goes both ways. A disgraceful, repugnant, and treasonous leader got “we the people” to do a disgraceful, repugnant, and treasonous thing.
“We the people“, in this case, being a misinformed cult of domestic terrorists called to action by the most powerful man in the world. They were preached to about “trial by combat”, they were convinced there was a rigged, undemocratic election conducted last fall. This is despite the fact that there is not a single, not a single, piece of evidence of point worth discussion to support their claim. They lost battle after battle in court, they lost scores of them. But this leader continued to lie, to stoke the fire, to brainwash, all of his supporters because he knew the only way he could continue to sit at the resolute desk in that sacred round room is if he interrupted the inevitable.
So when Josh Hawley, Ted Cruz, and other traitors in our Congress, repeat the lies and misinformation spread about the legitimacy of our election, of our choice, convincing these followers that they had something stolen from them, and that every step of the way is rigged against them, and that they must fight for it, all with the intent of gaining political capital, they undoubtedly asked for what has transpired.
Their choice was to override our choice.
And before you say that this was conducted by an awfully loud minority, according to a YouGov poll conducted in the wake of this attack:
45% of Republicans support the actions of these terrorists. Just 43% oppose. Compared to the over 96% of Democrats and 67% of independents who condemn these acts.
Half of the Republicans called these traitors protestors, a third called them patriots. Only 12% called them anti-democratic, and that’s hardly more than the 10% who called them pro-democratic. But over half of all registered voters called them extremists, just under half called them domestic terrorists.
This is the polarization in our nation. There are rarely absolutes in our politics, but this one is crystal clear. There is a right, and there is a wrong. Seeing a divide that is strikingly down party lines is long beyond appalling. But in the last four years, Americans chose to take power in the house, senate, and white house away from a platform-less embodiment of this very polarization. I see hope in our progress.
As conservatives simultaneously witness the deterioration of their party and the picture their leaders have painted, displaying the left and center as socialist and as ‘comin-for-ya-guns freedom-stealin-communists’. They are scared. Our brothers and sisters, our friends, our neighbors, are scared. And they are forced to vote for the politicians who claim that they are the only ones who can “save” America. The same politicians that invited our strife on the 6th.
They don’t do it because they hate America, or because they hate others, but because they are scared.
The president-elect has a saying, “if fear is the problem, the answer is knowledge.” It is our duty to educate our children, not encourage our division. The virus that this leader has left us must not, and will not last forever in the blood of our nation, because we will tell the story of the 6th, the day of the largest attack on our democracy in centuries.
As we find ourselves at a fork in the road, it is once again time to ask ourselves a question, “Do we participate in a politics of cynicism or a politics of hope?”
We must choose the hope that all people, regardless of the way they look, or speak, or believe, will have a say in our country, or a seat in our senate, like a Jewish son of an immigrant, or a black pastor in Georgia. As the 44th president put it, when he introduced himself to the world, it is the “audacity of hope!”.
God-willing, tomorrow will bring a brighter day. With a new Congress, a new president, and a new year, we just may be able to restore decency in our politics, rights for our people, and hope in our children.
To those who’ve lost hope that we as a nation can combat these demons and fight to create a more civil and safe world for our kids, and their kids too: There is no reason to believe a group of dedicated individuals cannot change the world. Because it is the only thing that ever has.
With the grace of God, let us all choose hope.
– Zachary Boudah, ’21