There Must Be Accountability
When I started this article the morning of January 6th, I intended to write about how the Georgia elections would impact President-Elect Biden's judicial and executive branch nominees. That afternoon, however, terrorists stormed the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. to overturn the election results and keep President Trump in power. My article was less and less relevant as I watched mobs of white people take over the House and Senate Capitol chambers, waltz into congressional offices and wave Confederate flags in our nation's capitol building. It was surreal.
The terrorists who stormed the Capitol yesterday should be tried for trespassing and looting. The members of Congress who incited this may never face legal consequences, but they need to face political ones.
As of 8:38 pm EST, only 13 people have been arrested. Hundreds had flooded the Capitol, stalling the peaceful transfer of power and desecrating the centerpiece of our nation's democracy. That number, 13, is less than the number of Republican Senators who had planned on objecting to the certification of the electoral college (14) and less than the number of House members calling for the president’s impeachment following the Capitol invasion (31). The mob who tried to overturn American democracy do not just include the men and women who stormed the Capitol building yesterday. That group also includes the nearly 100 members of Congress who have challenged the validity of the 2020 election and President Donald Trump. Every person who has supported the president’s baseless election fraud claims is responsible for what happened yesterday.
So how must American institutions address yesterday’s events? Obviously, the terrorists who stormed the Capitol should be tried for trespassing and looting. The members of Congress who incited this may never face legal consequences, but they need to face political ones. Whether it be expulsion from Congress or being stripped of their committee seats or losing their next election, those who have threatened American democracy must face political consequences. If not, what is stopping them from doing it again? If the members of Congress who have put our democracy at risk see no consequences and even gain the majority in the House of Representatives and the Senate in 2022, what is stopping them from throwing out the 2024 elections if it does not go their way?
The president also needs to be held accountable for his actions yesterday. After terrorists attempting to overthrow the election in his favor took the Capitol, he released a video saying repeatedly ‘We love you,” talking directly to the mob. He repeatedly has called for the election to be overturned and for election officials to “find more votes.” His behavior going unchecked would encourage other would-be fascists to follow in his footsteps. He needs to be removed from office as soon as possible, whether by impeachment proceedings or via the 25th amendment. Any minute he stays in office puts the American democracy in danger. After the president leaves office, his crimes, including but not limited to the attempt to illegitimately alter the results of the 2020 election, need to be fully investigated. He must be held to account for the incredible amount of damage he has inflicted on American democracy. The only way forward, the only way to ensure this never happens again, is to show those that would follow in his footsteps that there are consequences for their actions.
Anna Hickey is a third-year C.L.E.G. major in the School of Public Affairs. She is the Chief Editorial Columnist at the Agora.
Image courtesy Manuel Balce Cenata (AP), Creative Commons