On Jan. 6, photos and videos surfaced of the Capitol Building being filled with white supremacists and other far-right extremists as they tried to stop Congress from formally announcing President-elect Joe Biden’s win in the 2020 election. More recently, photos from the Capitol Building no longer show those rioters, instead depicting National Guard troops camping inside the building.
In the wake of the Capitol riot and threats of armed protests at all 50 state capitols, National Guard troops have been deployed to help local law enforcement and the Secret Service in protecting the nation’s symbol of democracy as Biden’s inauguration draws near. What is supposed to be a peaceful transfer of power has been overshadowed by the most recent domestic terrorist attack and the deployment of the National Guard. It is clear that President-elect Biden’s message of unity in our country will not have the same spirit as it once did months ago, and his inauguration speech should reflect that.
Ever since the Capitol riots brought into question the security surrounding the building where our lawmakers meet, now, more than ever, it is vital to ensure the security of the Capitol during Inauguration Day. However, when it comes to a point that the number of National Guard troops authorized in D.C. (25,000) surpasses the number of American troops currently in Afghanistan and Iraq (5,000), there’s clearly a problem regarding how seriously we wish to take security. Considering the fact that Trump supporters were able to enter the Capitol Building within hours and came within 100 feet of Vice President Pence, I understand why security needs to be heavily tightened for President-elect Biden’s inauguration. With Biden’s inauguration theme being “America United,” though, I feel it is counterproductive to still try to preach unity for a country that has been divided for much longer than four years when we have so many troops stationed in D.C. in anticipation of armed protestors with no respect for democracy.
I believe that Biden’s hardest job on Inauguration Day is going to be convincing Americans that we can be united. The events on Jan. 6 remind us that there is a large group of people in the U.S. who do not believe in our country’s principles of democracy, including our current sitting president. Many want to see justice happen for the horrendous siege on the Capitol, and the House of Representatives have taken that first step by impeaching Trump for the second time. However, there are those who believe that holding Trump accountable would not be in line with Biden’s message — but it should be. Before this country can properly heal, we need to eliminate the things that perpetuate problems that have existed in the U.S. for decades, and Trump has been adding more fire to these problems since the beginning of his presidency. President-elect Biden cannot hide behind the false reality that the U.S. can heal and unite together as one. There are National Guard troops camping inside the Capitol Building — which is reminiscent of how Union troops camped out in the Capitol during the Civil War — with authorization to use lethal force against those who pose a threat. I’m pretty sure that isn’t the unity Biden is talking about.
With the area surrounding the Capitol being barricaded and many National Guard troops being deployed, Washington D.C. is beginning to look like a warzone. The last time there was this much security at a president’s inauguration was when President Abraham Lincoln was being inaugurated while surrounded by “soldiers and cavalry.” To have this many National Guard personnel also makes people weary of how the military will be used against American citizens.
Granted, while the people who instigated the deployment of the National Guard may be citizens, they certainly do not act like it. As citizens, it is our civic duty to vote, something which minority groups have done in great numbers; it is not our civic duty, however, to trespass a federal building with the intent to harm lawmakers because the election did not go the way we expect. These “American citizens” turned their back on their country the moment they decided to attempt to overturn a fair election because they believed the lies of a madman. American citizens must be united, yes, but should this include the domestic terrorists who stormed the Capitol as well?
Biden’s inauguration speech needs to acknowledge the reality that was Jan. 6 with the understanding that America cannot be united in a day or in a year. Trump’s presidency will leave a scar on the country for as long as his supporters are fed lies and hate. I’m not even sure if the United States is ready for unity just yet. One side is certainly ready for unity and healing as they have had enough being led by a fool, but the other side is still foaming at the mouth screaming about a fraudulent election. Healing is a process and cannot be rushed, and unity will take time. Right now, we need to formally bring an end to Trump’s presidency, even if it means prosecuting the man himself. It is time to hold him and his allies accountable for everything they did and didn’t do before we can begin to move forward as a nation.
On Jan. 20, while the National Guard troops protect the Capitol from any and all threats, let us not forget the reality of our situation. President Trump, despite claiming to commit to an ‘orderly’ transition of power, still refuses to attend President-elect Biden’s inauguration and plans to leave the White House that very morning. The theme “America United” would have been fine if Jan. 6 did not show us just how divided we truly are. What we need isn’t false hope of unity in the coming days, but justice and assurance that the siege at the Capitol will not happen again. If we can hold Trump accountable then we can, perhaps, speak of unity for the U.S. as we close this dark chapter in American history. The situation is not completely hopeless, but after having a liar-in-chief as our president, we need someone to give us truth and facts — no more empty promises and platitudes.
Featured Image: Courtesy of Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times