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January 8, 2021

Which is more Horrifying—The Actions of the Outgoing President or Those who Enable Him?

Like most people who witnessed, either firsthand or via long-distance view on television or the internet, I am still in shock as I come to grips with what happened in our nation’s capital.

I have felt anger, rage, fear, abject terror, disgust, and hopelessness. Revulsion was the primary emotion I experienced, when I saw people streaming through the barricades as if they were paper-thin and blasting through the doors of the Capitol building on January 6, 2021, when members of the Senate and Congress were sitting to validate the Electoral College vote count.

We knew it was coming.

The outgoing president made it clear that it would be a “wild day,” when he issued an invitation that his followers couldn’t refuse: to come to Washington D.C. and wreak havoc. And come they did, waving their flags and banners, chanting 1776! and U.S.A! as if they were patriots, warding off foreign invaders. These far-right extremists were fueled by toxic fascist rhetoric. They knew they would be among their tribe when they “stormed the castle.” They knew that their actions would be lauded by their fearful leader.

He lit a match on already dry tinder when he insisted that if he didn’t win, the election was rigged. He hobbled the post office. He cast doubt on the validity of mail-in ballots. His policies attempted to disenfranchise voters. Once the election took place, and Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were found to be the victors according to both the popular vote tallies and the Electoral College—his proclamations of fraud accelerated. More than 60 lawsuits were turned away by various courts including the Supreme Court of the United Sates.

At every turn, he upped the amps and torched the truth.

The call to action had terrorists (and, yes, they are that) gathering to do what they do best—stir chaos. When I saw them mugging for the camera, scaling the walls, stealing property, invading offices, feet on desks, my ire rose. Although I don’t want to admit it, pacifist that I am, I found a sense of satisfaction when I saw an image of rioters lying face down with police standing over them, guns leveled.

I can only imagine the trauma that those inside the building felt, on a day that should have been a normal discharging of their responsibilities, when they were told to huddle under tables and desks, don gas masks, and eventually, be evacuated as invaders wound their way through the corridors.

Most were mask-less, all were boldly facing cameras so that their identities could be verified; likely, none of them were considering the impact their actions would have on their employment or their legal status. Viral images were seen around the world. Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, folks.

I, also, thought about their home lives. These were people who have children and grandchildren whom they were poisoning with their actions fed by a madman. I don’t use that term loosely, since I’m a psychotherapist. I’m not attempting to diagnose him, although I do attribute much of his behavior to dynamics that his niece Mary Trump says comes from a lifetime of ingrained beliefs about winning and losing (the first is the only state that is acceptable and the second is unthinkable.) She predicted an attempted coup. I know that this is one time she would prefer to be wrong, but tragically, she was right.

Words such as “treason” and “sedition” have been tossed about. Pipe bombs; nooses; the red, white, and blue replaced by a Trump flag (patriotic Americans who believe in the rule of law…yeah, right).

Who knows what impact this will have on the long-term well-being of the country? In the short run, it is piling trauma upon trauma. The entire country could use a good marathon group therapy session.

As I watched the resumption of the Electoral College vote hearing, I prayed that those who had intended to dispute the legitimacy of Joe Biden’s win would have an epiphany and rethink their position, understanding that this violation of sacred space was a direct result of ongoing lies and dangerous threats to life, limb, and property.

Although, a few erstwhile staunch Republicans decided to choose the rule of law and the Constitution over appeasing a would-be dictator, and gave impassioned speeches about why their compatriots in the House of Representatives and Senate needed to formalize the status of the incoming president, some stayed stuck like glue to the conviction that their candidate was cheated out of his victory.

What they fail to acknowledge is that some of their victories were counted on the same ballots on which he lost. And since he has such a strong grip on his electorate, of course, they were less likely to trust the system than were the Democrats.

When the afternoon of horrors turned to a marathon night, these weary, traumatized people took their responsibilities seriously, and by 4 a.m. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were declared the winners.

Although I am not a conspiracy theorist, it seems to me that it was far too easy for the invaders to have access to what should have been considered airtight. They had to have known it was about to go down. There were photos of police officers taking selfies with rioters.

How can we know who to trust to serve and protect our elected officials, including our new president and vice president?

What worries me is what could have happened if there was no intervention by the National Guard who had to be activated by D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser.

What also causes consternation is that on any given day, I may cross paths with people who were there. I know for certain that buses, arranged for by a local businessman ferried people from Bucks County, Pennsylvania to D.C.. These are my neighbors, those I may see strolling down the street in my small town, or in a supermarket checkout line, or at the post office.

In the throes of the horror I was feeling yesterday, I wrote this:

Dear, Trump Supporters:

Are you watching what is going on in D.C. right now? Protestors have stormed the Capitol. Instigated and perpetuated by the man you voted for.

This is what you bought and paid for with your vote. I am furious and frightened. How are you feeling right about now? If invaders from another country were doing this, you friggin’ know you would be all for immediate intervention.

This is terrorism, nothing less.

These are our fellow Americans.

How can we create peace when they are waging war?

The verifying of President-elect Biden’s electoral votes has been halted as everyone is being evacuated. When peaceful protestors were standing up against police violence, this administration unleashed hellfire. Although I am a pacifist, there needs to be a strong response to stop this.

You know that if the majority of the protestors were people of color—this would be a massacre.

“If you tell a big lie and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.” ~ Joseph Goebbles, Nazi and Reich Minister of Propaganda

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