I watched in disbelief. Not in disbelief that the protests occurred – that has been months in the making. But in disbelief that individuals were forcefully pushing their way through law enforcement, breaking windows and trashing the most recognized symbol of democratic government in the world; and doing so in the name of “conservatism” and “patriotism.” Enough is enough. I’ve wondered for a long time how far this would go – and now many are asking – how did we get here? I have a pretty good idea.
In 2016, I couldn’t believe President Donald Trump made it on stage as a legitimate contender in the primary. I told a close friend at the time that there was no way he could make it with his college humor dick joke. Months later, I was sitting among the delegates at the Republican National Convention, watching republicans stand and applaud every word of his acceptance speech. Some of the policies touted at that Convention were liberal – Ivanka Trump specifically mentioned government-funded parental leave. The response? Standing ovation. Were they deaf? I sat there, one of the youngest in attendance, feeling like the party had been hijacked.
Fun fact: The last time Senator Ted Cruz was contesting an electoral process, it was President Trump’s nomination, a contest effort I enthusiastically supported. We’ve come a long way in four years, haven’t we?
I’ll spare you the details of the past four years. Still, I think we can all agree President Trump has generated quite a following; among them a group that enjoys his brash and blunt commentary, laughs at his “grab ‘em by the pussy” approach, and appreciates his f*%& you to the rules attitude. He’s become the Real Housewife of the White House. And while some of his followers hold their nose when they vote for him, others fly flags on the back of their pickup trucks to show their enthusiastic support.
But, as president, he could create and support policies that went along with the Republican Party. And so, when a comment or incident presented itself, there were a few different responses you likely saw as you scrolled your news feed. I’ll summarize.
- “Yes, but look at his nominees to the U.S. Supreme Court – a legacy no one else could leave.”
- Those who support him because he’s the Republican candidate. And notably, not a Democrat.
- “We all make mistakes. There is no perfect candidate.”
- Those who support him and legitimately believe he is a good candidate who makes mistakes and misspeaks.
- “No more bullshit!” (An actual sign along the road here in North Central Pennsylvania)
- Those who support him in a cult manner – and take him at his word; follow him blindly.
It became clear President Trump likes being the most powerful man in the world (shocking), and he wants four more years – who doesn’t? But he wants it so bad; he’s willing to put into question democracy, the foundation of our government, to get it. Months before the election took place, his talk of election fraud began.
Gene Sharp said it best – “Dictators are not in the business of allowing elections that could remove them from their thrones.” President Trump couldn’t avoid the election, but I’d argue he was doing nearly everything he could to change the results.
At this point, he was acting like a dictator wannabe and had a core cult following. Whoa – cults and dictators – isn’t that language a bit extreme? (Did you SEE the footage of the Capitol?!) Take a look at the definitions and decide for yourself.
- Cult: a misplaced or excessive admiration for a particular person or thing (similar: idolization of, passion for, obsession with)
- Dictator: a ruler with total power over a country, typically one who has obtained control by force.
His election fraud claims CONSTANTLY continued up until his social media accounts were blocked. In the last several posts, attention turned to Vice President Mike Pence, who President Trump declared had the right to save the election. I see one of two things happening here – either he’s speaking out of ignorance for the election process, or, knowing this was not possible, he knew he had reached the end of the road and wanted to place the blame on Vice President Pence.
If you think the election was stolen and the results are inaccurate, there’s a section of the U.S. Constitution that addresses the process for that. It’s up to your elected officials to carry it through (which is why voting is so important!). To give credit where credit is due, Senator Ted Cruz and the handful of other Republicans were contesting within the framework of our democracy laid out in the U.S. Constitution.
Debunking the myths of mass election fraud could be a blog post of its own. I will say that IF a group was going to rig a presidential election, I would hope they’d be smart enough to rig both the presidency AND Congress by large enough margins so that we wouldn’t have to spend hours of our time recounting ballots and biting our nails over runoff elections.
Remember that group of cult supporters I mentioned that support President Trump blindly? Those people are taking him at his word. He’s the President of the United States, and he has the best lawyers, so it has to be true. Also, the media is covering it. Would they cover it if it wasn’t true? Did I mention social media algorithms are showing you content you want to engage with? I’m a social media professor, so I can’t help myself. If I’m continually reading media and engaging with posts that have to do with election fraud and President Trump, guess what content I see more of? Plus, the fact that election fraud happens in every election on some scale. (Yes, there is truth to some of these stories, but we’re talking about hundreds or thousands of votes. Worth investigating? Of course! Going to overturn the election? Not a chance.) Combine all of this, and you have the recipe – and ingredients – for disaster.
And then, many of “the ingredients” gather on the National Mall, sacred ground in our nation’s capital, for a “Save America” rally. (You seriously can’t make this up!) While this isn’t a majority, there are plenty of people – and President Trump shows up, along with a few other notable speakers, further legitimizing the cause and energizing the crowd.
In President Trump’s remarks, the word peace appears one time, and the word fight appears 20 times. Here are a few excerpts from his speech transcript for you to enjoy.
“We took them by surprise and this year, they rigged an election. They rigged it like they’ve never rigged an election before.”
“…if Mike Pence does the right thing, we win the election. All he has to do. This is from the number one or certainly one of the top constitutional lawyers in our country. He has the absolute right to do it.”
“After this, we’re going to walk down [to the Capitol] and I’ll be there with you.”
“We fight like Hell and if you don’t fight like Hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.”
So what did they do? They marched right up to the most recognized symbol of democratic government in the world, and they fought like Hell. They did exactly what they had been groomed to do. They believed the election was stolen; they believed they were among the majority; they believed they were saving our country; and they believed the President of the United States was with them.
But they are the minority of Americans. They are sore losers. They assaulted our country. They tried to interfere with democracy. They have blood on their hands. And the man we call president today will be nothing more than a private citizen in a couple of weeks. If you think this is what 1776 looked like, you need a real conservative to give you a history lesson.
Thankfully, there is one thing President Trump had right in his rally speech, “Hundreds of thousands of American patriots are committed to the honesty of our elections and the integrity of our glorious Republic.” Two of them being Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Pence, who are on polar opposite sides of the political spectrum, but share something in common – a passion for the people, and for democracy to prevail.
And so, in true American fashion, they set aside their differences and called Congress into session into the wee hours of the morning Thursday to finish what they started, to give Americans the president they elected. Vice President Pence said it best: “To those who wreaked havoc in our Capitol today, You did not win. Violence never wins. Freedom wins. And this is still the people’s house.”
As you know by now, I’m a writer – and I also consider myself to be a patriotic conservative. To me, words matter. And I can’t end this piece without sharing the definition for two words I’ve seen in headlines used to wrongfully describe this cult. I need to set the record straight.
- Patriotism: having or expressing devotion to and vigorous support for one’s country.
- Notice the difference between patriotism and cult is the object of the devotion and support – country vs. person.
- Conservatism: a political philosophy based on tradition and social stability, stressing established institutions, and preferring gradual development to abrupt change. Specifically: such a philosophy calling for lower taxes, limited government regulation of business and investing, a strong national defense, and individual financial responsibility for personal needs (such as retirement income or health-care coverage)
Does this sound like the political philosophy behind individuals using force to push past a strong defense/law enforcement to break into and vandalize the building that is said to be the most recognized symbol of democratic government in the world? I don’t know about you, but the footage I saw of the Capitol didn’t quite scream “tradition and social stability.”
All this time, there have been two very different objections to the election – a cult protest and a Republican contest. Unfortunately, they have been woven together in headlines. As a conservative, I value the U.S. Constitution, which lays out specific instructions to contesting an election, instructions that Senator Ted Cruz and a handful of other Republicans followed. I don’t agree with their opposition, but I agree with how it was handled within the Joint Session of Congress (outside media appearances, etc., not so much). I don’t want to see us as a country say that contesting an election is bad. The truth is, it can be done through a diplomatic process by the officials we elect to represent us. Let’s pray we never need to use it legitimately.
The bottom line is that the Capitol images make us feel angry, bitter, and disheartened – and they should! It’s easy to point fingers; and, I’ll be honest; I feel like revenge would be sweet. But after watching comments from both Republicans and Democrats when Congress returned to session, and scanning headlines today, I’m starting to feel a tiny bit of hope. Why? Because it seems we may have FINALLY reached a point the overwhelming majority of the Republican Party won’t tolerate – a storming of the Capitol that hasn’t happened since the War of 1812. My hope is that President Trump has sealed his fate in a way that no member of the media will want to promote him or his conspiracy theories any more. To quote his campaign’s yard sign – “no more bullshit.”
If you’re tempted to jump on a broken record of anger, bitterness and blame; remember, the little eyes and ears of the future of America are watching and listening. Of course, they need to understand violence isn’t tolerated, but they also need to see a country that rises up after facing adversity. As Senator Ben Sasse said in Wednesday’s session – “Our kids need to know that what happened today isn’t what America is…that America’s best days aren’t behind us.”
Let’s do whatever it takes to give these little Americans the country they deserve.
-The Petite Patriot