Capitol History

During your lifetime, you might experience a handful of major historical events that greatly impact your life. 9/11, the legalization of gay marriage and the 2016 presidential election are a few that come to mind that are significant to my generation. Nowadays, we get to live through one every week. 

Clearly, a global pandemic was not enough for our country. Why not add some violent insurrection to the mix?  

For a lot of people, including myself, Jan. 6 felt unreal. If you were like me, you were probably doomscrolling for hours on Twitter attempting to comprehend the situation. 

A violent mob stormed the United States Capitol in Washington D.C. with the intent to overturn a democratic election. It’s not often you witness an event that will go down in history, undoubtedly, as one of the most egregious attacks on our democracy to date. There’s no precedent for this, so how do we begin to understand it?

To start, earlier that day, President Donald Trump spoke at a rally near the White House, where he made claims to his supporters about the integrity of the recent presidential election. 

Several times when he spoke, Trump asserted that the election was fraudulent and fake, although there have been no substantiated claims of voter fraud significant enough to call into question the results of the election. At one point he stated, “When you catch someone in a fraud, you’re allowed to go by very different rules.”

During his speech, Trump told people, “we’re going to the Capitol” to give the Republican representatives “the kind of pride and boldness they need to take back our country.”

While some may claim Trump simply wanted a peaceful demonstration to take place at the Capitol, his rhetoric clearly emboldened his supporters to do something more. 

To fully understand why the Capitol riots were so concerning, it’s important to know what the Capitol is and its purpose in our government. 

The United States Capitol building, located in Washington D.C., is where our democratically elected representatives in the House and Senate meet to carry out the legislative functions of our federal government. In other words, they are responsible for creating and voting on laws that affect your workplace, schools, parks and everything in between. 

The Capitol building is one of, if not the most important, physical and symbolic representation of our democracy. For that reason, this insurrection should be seen as nothing less than a direct attack on the most sacred foundation of our government. 

It is important to understand that the riot at the Capitol was not just an ignorant parade of Trump supporters flouncing flags and screaming about fake news. This was an apex of white supremacy, which was, and still is, dangerous. 

The mob at the Capitol is not to be mistaken as a group of outlandish Trump devotees that exist outside of mainstream society. These are our representatives, lawyers and police officers who have immense influence on people’s lives. 

There are a lot of things this attack can be interpreted as, but a fluke is not one of them. This is a result of a centuries old problem our country has failed to address time and time again. Every time we believe we have come to terms with our nation’s past, it comes back even stronger. 

If we want to begin to move on from this, Trump must be impeached and the Republican senators who voted to object to the Electoral College election results — Cindy Hyde-Smith, John Kennedy, Roger Marshall, Tommy Tuberville, Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley — should be held accountable to the fullest extent and resign. 

In order for a presidential impeachment to be confirmed, the House must first reach a majority vote, approving the articles of impeachment. Once passed, the Senate will conduct a trial where a ⅔ majority is required to remove the president from office, according to The Constitution of the United States. 

Wednesday, Jan. 13, the House officially voted 232 to 197 to impeach Trump for inciting the insurrection that took place at the Capitol, making this the second time Trump has been impeached and the only time a president has been impeached twice. 

As Trump’s term comes to a close, it seems unlikely the Senate will come to a vote before Joe Biden’s inauguration takes place on Jan. 20. 

No matter what happens, it is vital that we do not let people minimize the events that occurred at the Capitol — right now and when future generations read about it in history books. 

From a distance, the riot at the Capitol looked like a jumbled mess, which made it difficult to pinpoint exactly what was going on. After breaking down the incident, the scene becomes clear: a violent crowd of domestic terrorists stormed the United States Capitol and attempted to overthrow our democratic government. It is crucial we demonstrate the severity of what happened, and for that reason, there is no simpler way to put it. 


Follow Paige Nicewaner on Twitter, @danny__devitHoe

Subscribe to The Standard's free weekly newsletter here.