It’s hard to believe we’re in 2021! I think back and say to friends, “hey, last year we…” But I forget the lost 18 months of Covid, and I’m really talking about 2½ years ago. Too much has happened.
There are so many issues that I might have used for the 2021 Halloween display, but none more important than the Capitol Insurrection. It defines the fragile state of our Union. The Capitol Building in Washington D.C. has been attacked only twice in our nation’s more than 200 year history.
The first time was by a foreign enemy during the War of 1812. In August 1814, the British Army landed in the Chesapeake Bay region and launched attacks in DC, Maryland, and Virginia. As part of that operation, they invaded the Capital and set fire to every public building (except the patent office!) It was a beleaguering moment for the young nation; a low point in what was often called the “Second War of Independence.”
The second assault on the Capitol was by a domestic enemy aimed at stopping the electoral vote count process in the presidential election of 2020. Thousands of President Donald Trump’s supporters rushed the Capitol, attacked Capitol police officers, broke windows, illegally entered congressional offices, and disrupted the election process. They did so at the behest of President Trump.
Now, Trump and his followers claim that the insurrection wasn’t an insurrection. The former president recently (September, 2021) claimed it was all a “hoax.” Such a statement defines the Trump presidency. He has long insisted that if you say something enough times people will believe it. He has made the denial of basic facts a key political strategy.
Trump’s actions are the fulfillment of a much more insidious, Republican plan that began in the 1990s. The goal: to disrupt any possibility of Democratic Party success, no matter the consequences. The means of disruption: refusal to compromise; get nastier; grind the wheels of government to a halt. All this to maintain Republican Party power.
And be sure – “The Big Lie” (that Trump actually won the 2020 election) is what culminated in the Capitol Insurrection – this is no minor issue. What has always set America apart is our citizens’ willingness to accept elections and the peaceful transition of political power. Without that essential commitment, our Union will fracture; we will be reduced to just another rogue political state. The “Great Experiment” in representative government will fail.
What more can one say? If all of this means anything to you, whether you are a Democrat, a Republican, or an Independent, stand by your nation, not any single individual or party. Accept that some level of compromise is critical for the country’s ability to govern. Recognize that the people who attacked the Capitol are not patriots. They are not defending Democracy.
I leave you with the words of George Washington in his famous Farewell Address. It’s a document every American should read.
“The unity of government which constitutes you one people is also now dear to you. It is justly so, for it is a main pillar in the edifice of your real independence, the support of your tranquility at home, your peace abroad; of your safety; of your prosperity; of that very liberty which you so highly prize. But as it is easy to foresee that, from different causes and from different quarters, much pains will be taken, many artifices employed to weaken in your minds the conviction of this truth; as this is the point in your political fortress against which the batteries of internal and external enemies will be most constantly and actively (though often covertly and insidiously) directed, it is of infinite moment that you should properly estimate the immense value of your national union to your collective and individual happiness; that you should cherish a cordial, habitual, and immovable attachment to it; accustoming yourselves to think and speak of it as of the palladium of your political safety and prosperity; watching for its preservation with jealous anxiety; discountenancing whatever may suggest even a suspicion that it can in any event be abandoned; and indignantly frowning upon the first dawning of every attempt to alienate any portion of our country from the rest, or to enfeeble the sacred ties which now link together the various parts….”
The alternate domination of one faction [party] over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of public liberty….
It serves always to distract the public councils and enfeeble the public administration. It agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms, kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which finds a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passions….”