VIOLENCE ENSUED AND DEMOCRACY AT STAKE
The chaos that erupted on Capitol Hill on January 6th, 2021 will go down in United States history as the most radical attempt to stop the certification of a president-elect.
The violence, riots, and breaking-and-entering of the capitol building took place while lawmakers had just begun the certification process of President-elect Joe Biden. During certification, members vote alphabetically by each state on whether they approve of the certification of the president-elect. Once lawmakers reached Arizona’s representatives, protestors and rioters broke into the capitol building. Immediately after, Congress evacuated for security and safety reasons.
The mob of President Trump’s supporters gathered around Capitol Hill on January 6th in protest of Joe Biden’s confirmation as the winner of the eventful 2020 presidential election. Rioters started their acts of protest by mobbing around the capitol building, however inevitable chaos erupted when some began breaching barricades and broke into the capitol building. The national guard was deployed and police arrived in riot gear, launching tear gas and macing members of the crowd. One woman, who made it inside the capitol building, was shot by the police and was later pronounced dead.
Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell has been adamant about his support of the president throughout his term in office. However, McConnell has acknowledged Joe Biden as the clear winner of the presidential election and has stated that he plans to go forth with the certification process of the president-elect. McConnell made a speech before the voting process began, stating that if the results of the election were overturned, “democracy would enter a death spiral”. The morning after the riots, the president-elect Joe Biden addressed the American people and officially acknowledged the rioters as “domestic terrorists”.
Some members of the Republican Party voiced their concerns about the certification of Biden before the riots erupted. At the same time, McConnell strongly encouraged them to not object to confirm the results of the 2020 election. After the riots ended due to a 6 PM curfew, some of the GOP members, such as the Republican senator from Georgia-Kelly Loeffler, retracted their earlier statements about rejecting the certification and decided to go forth with the process.
Throughout the chaos that unfolded on Capitol Hill during a historically peaceful process, concerns about the future of democracy in the United States flooded the minds of many American citizens. The riots proposed a question to all Americans: What would happen to democracy in the United States if a fair and free election were to be overturned.
With the COVID-19 pandemic tearing through the world, to the police killings of unarmed Black Americans, the wrath of 2020 has not appeared to slow down. Now, as 2021 is upon us and the COVID-19 vaccine distribution is in full force, 2020’s catastrophes appeared to be behind us.
However, with the uprising that took place on Capitol Hill Wednesday, a new question emerges for the year: is our democracy at risk because of the controversy surrounding the 2020 election?
On Thursday, January 7th, following the riots on Capitol Hill, members of the House Judiciary Committee, including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, called on Vice President Pence to use the 25th amendment in order to force President Trump out of office. The 25th amendment states that if the Vice President and Congress or members of the cabinet state in writing that the president is unfit to hold office, then the Vice President would take their place immediately. If the amendment is voted on and gets passed, Mike Pence would become the President until the inauguration of Joe Biden on January 20th.