By Abigail Ramirez
Despite America’s clear and present need to establish a middle ground between the two major political parties, the partisan divide only grew deeper over the course of Donald Trump’s presidency. As neo-Nazis began roaming our streets and government officials began branding delegates as socialists, Americans across the country slowly began grouping all members with the most extreme parts of their respective parties; Democrats have been labeled as socialists, and Republicans as fascists.
Over the last four years, Americans have taken to the streets to stand up for what they believe would promote the general welfare in the heat of a toxic political climate. While some stood up for equality and justice in cities like Portland and Minneapolis, others protested in the name of white supremacy and anti-semitism. While some politicians tried to breach the partisan divide, others spread a message of distrust and hate.
This being said, when President Trump betrayed our Congress and country on January 6 by telling the crowd to protest the “fraudulent” election by storming Capitol Hill, no one should have been surprised. The sedition and insurrection committed on that day was the culmination of four years worth of deception and hatred.
The former president has always based his platform on the idea of making America “great” again. However, from the get go, many realized that the rhetoric surrounding his idea of “greatness” differed greatly from that set forth by President Obama in the eight years prior. Stepping away from diversity and inclusion, President Trump publicly generalized all Mexicans as “rapists,” called for all Muslims to be banned from entering the United States, and said that Nigerian immigrants would never want to “go back to their huts” after immigrating to the US.
Even before taking office, Trump’s ability to try to rationalize and justify blatantly racist comments allowed for Americans all over the country to believe that they could do the same. After years of being ostracized and pushed to the shadows, men and women who suppressed their own racist beliefs felt empowered to resurface.
In fact, after President Trump was sworn into office in 2016, his supporters felt so energized that they took to the streets in order to protect the statue of Civil War general and white supremecist Robert E. Lee. Bands of Trump supporters, white supremacists, and neo-Nazis rallied around Lee’s statue, shouting cries like “Jews will not replace us” and “blood and soil;” a stark parallel to the rioters seen storming the Capitol.
Even after a life was taken in the name of white supremacy, the former president was still unable to condemn his supporters, allowing them to feel invincible after their acts of “patriotism.”
According to USA Today, Jake Angeli, the Q-Anon shauman who stormed the Capitol wearing buffalo horns, told the FBI that he went to D.C. “as part of a group effort, with other ‘patriots’ from Arizona, at the request of the President that all ‘patriots’ come to D.C. on January 6, 2021.”
Knowing their dependency on the world and culture created by Trump, can we really say that we were surprised when they took his call to action literally?
Really, in the midst of the horror, what surprised me the most was Congress’ response . Over the last four years, a global pandemic and blatant racial inequality were not able to unite Democrats and Republicans. Instead, it took insurrectionists, neo-Nazis, and extremists waving the Confederate flag while threatening our entire Congress, Vice President, and democracy to push delegates to reach a middle ground.
As we enter into a new presidency, this is what we have to work on together. After grieving and processing what happened that day, we must be able to move forward with the most fervent intent of making sure that these acts of insurrection never happen again, and to do that, we must learn to put our differences aside and listen to each other, for we are all Americans.
If we take anything away from the events that occurred on January 6, it must be that if we want American democracy to prevail and our society to continue striving towards a better tomorrow, we must focus on truly being the United States of America.
“History, faith and reason show the way, the way of unity. We can see each other not as adversaries, but as neighbors. We can treat each other with dignity and respect. We can join forces, stop the shouting and lower the temperature. For without unity, there is no peace — only bitterness and fury. No progress — only exhausting outrage. No nation — only a state of chaos,” President Joe Biden said in his inaugural address.