To return to the floor of the Senate and House chambers, to do the people’s business, the members of Congress had to walk past cleaners sweeping up broken glass, with the odor of smoke bombs and tear gas lingering in the hallways.
Vice President Mike Pence gaveled the Senate back into order, asking that God bless all that serve in the U.S. Congress.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell vowed that his fellow senators would complete the people’s work and formalize the work of the Electoral College. He said the thugs failed in their insurrection and the Senate would confirm the results of the 2020 election.
Senator Chuck Schumer quoted President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, that January 6, 2020 would be a day added to the short list of historic moments of infamy. The Senate Minority Leader feared the indelible legacy of the 45th President may not be washed away easily.
“Domestic terrorists,” “a mob,” “goons,” “thugs,” “seditionists,” were just some of the words used to describe the thousands who broke the windows, scrawled rude messages and flew their flags on Capitol Hill. But Senator Schumer noted, the only thing they accomplished was to delay their sacred duty, the counting of the Electoral College votes, by a few hours.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi noted that the disorder had occurred on the Solemnity of the Epiphany. “Today, January 6 – the Feast of Epiphany – let us pray that this instigation to violence will provide an epiphany for our country to heal,” Pelosi said.
Her words were echoed by many on both sides of the aisle.
Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky expressed his opinion that the time for objections to the slates of Electors was over. Senator Susan Collins of Maine called it a horrific day. Senator Roy Blunt said he didn’t want to hear anything more from Donald Trump.
And nor did others. Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter, agreed. The social media platform froze the @RealDonaldTrump account for twelve hours and blocked Donald Trump’s afternoon video and tweets for failing to meet community standards. Facebook then joined, “We’ve assessed two policy violations against President Trump’s Page which will result in a 24-hour feature block, meaning he will lose the ability to post on the platform during that time.”
All living former presidents, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, have all spoken out. They were by turns appalled, calling the situation a national tragedy, a moment of national dishonor and shame. The four all agreed that it is time for leaders to come together and restore a common purpose in politics.
There were few to defend Donald Trump. The hours of chaos raised serious questions of justice and fairness. Some noted that the president’s supporters were being treated far more gently than the protestors of the summertime black lives matter demonstrations. Others wanted to know why the Capitol Police were unprepared and why it took so long for the National Guard to deploy to the streets of the American capital.
It was supposed to be a day of process and formality, with handmade mahogany boxes ceremonially opened and tallies carefully added up, just as they had in previous cycles. But there had also been concerns. At St. Joseph’s Capitol Hill, the Catholic Church catty-corner from the Hart Senate Office building, Father Gurnee decided to lock the doors during Mass, lest their sanctuary be vandalized. Other churches around the city took precautions, taking down signs and closing programs for the day.
Donald Trump was raised a Presbyterian, and now describes himself as a non-denominational Protestant, but more importantly, he always describes himself as a fighter. His calls to continue fighting gave implicit permission to the rally goers to take that fight to the Congress. And now, calls are growing for the outgoing president to face immediate impeachment or for the 25th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution to be invoked. Cabinet officials are discussing whether to declare that they agree that Donald Trump is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, and thus, “the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.”
The mob failed because their erstwhile leader remained safe behind the 12-foot fences and sniper guns stationed around the White House. Condolences were expressed to the friends and family of the woman who died from a gun shot, just inside the doors of the Capitol Building itself.
Prayers were raised up that somehow, the American people can over come this moment, or as president-elect Joe Biden said “Think what our children watching television is thinking. Think with the rest of the world is looking at. For nearly two and a half centuries, we, the people in search of a more perfect union have kept our eyes on that common good. America’s so much better than what we’ve seen today.”
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