Republicans avoided Trump’s violence until it attacked them

A group of protestors holding signs that read “Love not Hate,” “Impeach Now,” “We The People,” and “Not Repeal and Replace, Impeach and Convict”. Wikipedia Commons

It is time for us to reflect on our government representatives

The Capitol Riots from Jan. 6 have been splashed across global news headlines for the past few weeks. Images and videos from that day have been seared into the minds of all those who witnessed it, from not only America, but around the world. In the midst of the riots’ chaos, one aspect about the night of Jan. 6 has stuck with me: how Republicans changed their vote regarding the 2020 Presidential Election results following the riots.

This may sound silly. Some may be thinking “well, didn’t we want them to confirm the election results?” And yes, many have wanted Republican leaders to denounce President Trump’s claims regarding election fraud. However, I find it interesting, more so disappointing, that it took violence at their doorstep for them to realize the viciousness of the Trump Administration.

The violence perpetuated directly and indirectly by Trump’s presidency has been discussed for years. The people these representatives stand for have been announcing how dangerous many of Trump’s policies have been to marginalized communities with no response.

In 2017, Americans voiced frustrations in relation to Trump’s travel ban. More colloquially known as the “Muslim ban,” it specifically placed travelling restrictions on flying to America from various locations in the Middle East and Africa (Yemen, Iran, Iraq and Libya to name a few). The American public found the ban to be discriminatory and harmful.

The same year, members of the transgender community were banned from being able to join the military. To quote Trump, the ban was because “[the] military must be focused on […] victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.” The American people expressed outrage, claiming that this ban, too, was discriminatory.

Over the summer of 2020, Black Lives Matter protests began all over the country, then worldwide. The protests were ignited by the brutal murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery to name a few at the hands of American police. These protests demanded justice and systematic change.

Despite being this vocal, many Republicans didn’t see the extent of Trump’s violence, or didn’t understand the violence he was instigating, until it arrived at The Capitol’s doors.

These so-called “representatives of the people” did not take the concerns of their people seriously. For years, Americans have been vocalizing their disdain and frustration with the violence perpetrated by the Trump administration. Not only were these expressed concerns ignored, belittled or misrepresented, it wasn’t until these representatives were under threat themselves did they realize the severity of Trump’s lies and the grip they have on the nation.

Only when these individuals were trapped, terrified for their own lives at the hands of the Administration’s violence, did several Republicans agree that his election fraud claims were created with the very intent to stir violence and rile his supporters. For that reason, they voted in favour of the electoral college results which certified Joe Biden as the winner of their 2020 Presidential Election.

Note: prior to the riots, they were going to fight the results of this election. They were going to claim that election fraud had run rampant and had improperly elected Joe Biden as the next president. It wasn’t until the violence demonstrated by their party’s leader was fixated on them did they see the flaws in his manipulative plan. These minds were influenced by the events at the Capitol that day.

Had those riots not occurred, those Republicans would have gone ahead, arguing that the election had been stolen. After their lives were threatened, that view changed.

I would like to note that the terror these officials felt is very real. I am not attempting to downplay the severity of their situation. Rather, I am trying to use it to frame a question: we had been warned this was going to happen, so why were we not listened to?

Viewing the images of the very officials that are to be representing their people cowering, teary eyed, clutching the arms and hands of their coworkers is terrifying, but it is old news to the hundreds of thousands who have already felt victim to the harm of Trump’s governance.

Trump’s followers attack individuals who do not adhere to their ideology. Unfortunately, that didn’t register to many government officials until they, too, became under attack. That became evident by their sudden change to vote in favour of the electoral college results, many citing the riots as their reason for changing.

Here in Canada, this is a chance for us to reflect on our elected representatives. We need to ensure that our representatives are properly and accurately representing the will of the people, not blindly following the will of their party leader.

We need to ensure that our leaders are held to the same standards as those to the south of us. We need to make sure that our representatives are not only hearing us, but actually representing the will of their people and fighting for it. That has always been the very point of democracy, and it feels as though that ideology has fallen prey to greed and wealth.

America’s threat to democracy was terrifying to say the least, but it was not unexpected. Hundreds upon thousands of Americans that have dealt with the hatred and violence incited by Trump’s governance, and all of them could have told you that a day like Jan. 6 was inevitable. It was not a matter of it, but when, and it happened.

Now, I hope we all can use this moment as a chance to hold our government officials accountable.

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