Commentary by Jean R. Pateman, Democracy & Me intern
They stood outside of the Capitol and screamed “Our country!” and “You’re supposed to work for us!” The silent majority they call themselves, yet they can’t manage to win the popular vote. “Voter fraud” they yell, but they are not the ones who are being intimidated, put in jail, or purged from voter records. Georgia is not a red state; it is a state of voter suppression. So is Texas, and other states long seen as strongholds of the right.
What happened at the Capitol building today was not a protest, or “civil unrest”; it was a direct attempt by “patriotic” citizens to impede the election certification process, to block necessary action of the U.S. government toward a peaceful transfer of power. They are the ones interfering with this election. There are no dead people voting or ballots in rivers. There are thousands of people in the country’s capital threatening the lives of Senators who are refusing to act on unconstitutional requests by the literal President of the United States.
And they are white. How did so many demonstrators gather without more security on hand? They are white. How did so many break into the Capitol building and into the Senate chamber itself? They are white. How did they cause so much destruction, unchecked? They are white. How have so few been injured or detained by the authorities? (At the time of this writing, one person was shot and killed during this afternoon’s chaos; five weapons were seized and fifteen rioters arrested.) How can a person argue that white privilege doesn’t exist in a country where a white crowd can stage a violent takeover of the sacred halls of Congress, and then return home safely that night, while Black Americans protesting in the streets, their allies, and even the journalists among them, are tear-gassed, shot with rubber bullets, arrested, and beaten?
This is the end of the Republican Party. The GOP is no longer represented by principled leaders such as Mitt Romney, or the late John McCain; it is represented by an angry mob that ripped down the American flag and tried to replace it with the campaign flag of an impeached President. (Some also carried the battle flag of the Confederacy, along with ax handles and actual pitchforks.) It’s the party that called for a fair election, then chased out the democratically elected congresspersons as they set to certify the fair election. It is the party responsible for a woman’s violent death today in the U.S. Capitol, and perhaps more violence to come.
After the 2016 Presidential election, Trump supporters criticized Americans who marched in protest of that result. “If Hillary Clinton had won fairly,” many on the right said then, “we would have accepted it.”
But today, and forever, we know the truth: The law-and-order party makes its own rules. The party of “pro-life” has chosen death over defeat.