I don’t want the domestic terrorism that took place in Washington, D.C., today to sap all the joy out of the yesterday’s huge achievement: Georgia’s election of two Democratic senators, Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff. Warnock is the first Black person to win a Senate seat in Georgia; Ossoff is the first Jew. Their wins gave control of the Senate to Democrats. With a Democratic majority in the House of Representatives as well, and Joe Biden and Kamala Harris in the White House, we are going to get things done. How do I know that? I see first-hand in New York that the activism and organizing that got us here isn’t going away. In fact, I’ll be in touch with my senators — one of whom is the new Senate Majority Leader, Chuck Schumer — even more than before, because they won’t be able to blame any stasis on Mitch McConnell anymore.
And I’m utterly confident that the great organizers — particularly Black women — who labored for years to flip Georgia are going to continue their work with passion. Our heroes include Stacey Abrams and Lauren Groh-Wargo of Fair Fight; LaTosha Brown and Cliff Albright, founders of Black Voters Matter; Nse Ufot, CEO of New Georgia Project (check out NGP’s lively Instagram feed); Helen Butler, executive director of the Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda; Rebecca DeHart, the CEO of Fair Count; Deborah Scott, the executive director of Georgia Strategic Alliance for New Directions and Unified Policies (GA STAND-UP); Tamieka Atkins, the executive director of ProGeorgia; and, of course, the many, many people who worked with these organizations and others.
"The way I talk about community power is like electricity: Thomas Edison didn’t create electricity. What he created was a conduit to organize the energy and direct it. It was already there."
— GEN (@GENmag) January 6, 2021
We’ll have to celebrate their achievements more later, because the white supremacist attack on the Capitol today shows how endangered our democracy still is. Trump has always been open about inciting and rewarding violence — especially racist and misogynist violence. That was true even before he was handed his win thanks to the anti-democratic, slave-state-protecting Electoral College: Trump suggested “Second Amendment people” handle Hillary Clinton in August 2016. In August 2017, months after his inauguration, he notoriously said, “I think there’s blame on both sides. If you look at both sides — I think there’s blame on both sides” about the neo-Nazi rampage in Charlottesville, Va., during which Heather Heyer was murdered. Instead of denouncing white supremacism in a September 2020 debate with Joe Biden, he told the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by.” And today — the day of the Electoral College vote count that would certify Joe Biden’s presidential election win — Trump declared at a rally that he would never concede the election, riled his supporters up with an uncountable number of lies about election fraud, and then directed them to the Capital building, saying, “I love Pennsylvania Avenue, and we’re going to the Capitol … So let’s walk down Pennsylvania Avenue.”
As a result, the mob stormed the Capitol — only the second time the building has been breached. The last time was in 1814, by the British, an outside enemy. Now, Americans are literally their own worst enemy.
Ever been to the Capitol? It’s pretty hard to get in. Security is intense, and the Capitol Police come down quickly and harshly on anyone considered to be a trespasser. I myself was arrested there twice last year in peaceful protests during last year’s impeachment process — once on the Capitol steps, where we made no effort to approach the building, and the other time in the Capitol Rotunda where I sat on the floor with nine other women chanting “Do your job” at the senators who were voting to hear no evidence in the Trump impeachment trial. During the summer, peaceful Black Lives Matter protestors in D.C. were greeted with armed National Guards and attacked by police with tear gas and rubber bullets. Hundreds of arrests were made; there were 289 on June 1 alone. Military vehicles rolled through the city. In contrast, today, there was no appearance of heightened security even though Trump had become transparent in his efforts to launch a coup and his supporters were openly organizing on social media. (Ashli Babbit, an insurgent who was fatally shot in the Capitol building during the uprising, had tweeted, “Nothing will stop us. they can try and try and try but the storm is here and it is descending upon DC in less than 24 hours…dark to light.) Instead, some police and other security officers removed barricades and took selfies with armed rioters. Only 52 people were arrested.
The damage to the myth of the U.S. as a beacon of democracy is irreversible. The normalization of violence against lawmakers and the will of the people is also going to have profound reverberations on a portion of the population. Trump is said to be in a manic state and every day he causes more damage. We can’t wait until Biden’s inauguration on January 20. The only acceptable action is to impeach Trump immediately. Do your part by texting the word RESIST to 50409 to use Resistbot to contact your congressperson and demand they support the removal of an authoritarian who cannot be allowed to have the nuclear codes for another two weeks. It will take you two minutes; just do it.
After we get this motherfucker out of there, we, the people, need to make sure that everyone who enabled Trump and did his bidding, suffers for it.
Historian of coups and right-wing authoritarians here. If there are not severe consequences for every lawmaker & Trump govt official who backed this, every member of the Capitol Police who collaborated with them, this "strategy of disruption" will escalate in 2021
— Ruth Ben-Ghiat (@ruthbenghiat) January 7, 2021
The alternative is that we suffer for it. And that’s unacceptable. The U.S. has inflicted an astonishing amount of suffering upon its own people and the world. It’s long past time for us to say that enough is enough.