Peace-loving Americans are slow to anger, and it took four years of provocation for it to boil over. The tragedy of the shocking outbreak of disorder in Washington is that, barring one misstep, it likely never would have happened at all.
Supporters of President Trump, who have watched the 45th president mistreated by his political opponents since before his Inauguration, gathered calmly on the Ellipse Wednesday for a final demonstration of loyalty. A sea of American flags and Trump banners fluttered in the breeze as the president thanked the sea of fellow Republicans, then reiterated his complaints about widespread voter fraud that allegedly enabled Democrat Joe Biden to win the 2020 presidential election.
Then the president called out Vice President Mike Pence, who was simultaneously presiding over the Electoral College during a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill, to reject disputed electors, send their ballots back to their respective states, and refuse to certify Mr. Biden’s victory: “Mike Pence, I hope you’re going to stand up for the good of the Constitution and the good of our country,” he said. That’s when he overstepped.
By calling for the upending of proper constitutional order, Mr. Trump opened the door to an un-American torrent of emotion. At his prompting, the throngs paraded up Pennsylvania Avenue to the West Side of the massive, domed Capitol, and the dogs of chaos were loosed. Their only reward was dishonor and regret.
Peaceful marchers transformed into angry protesters, breaching security provided by Capitol Hill Police, flooded into the Senate chambers and attempted to barge into the House of Representatives, moments after security forces had led members of the House and Senate to safety. Police brandished their firearms and one woman was shot in the chest.
“I am asking for everyone at the U.S. Capitol to remain peaceful,” tweeted Mr. Trump. “No violence! Remember, WE are the Party of Law & Order respect the Law and our great men and women in Blue. Thank you!” Too late — the damage was done.
There is every reason for Mr. Trump to harbor hard feelings toward the Democratic Party-major media alliance that fought him at every turn — defining him as the bad, orange man who vandalized their effete Washington establishment, tormenting him with impeachment, accusing him of killing thousands in the desperate battle against COVID-19, and finally — by hook or by crook — derailing his reelection.
His Republican supporters likewise have suffered relentless political persecution for sharing his dream of “making America great again.” And they simmered with indignation through the summer of 2020 while anti-Americanism rampaged through their cities in the forms of Black Lives Matter and Antifa. All the while Democrats smirked.
By giving rein to raw emotion on the Mall, though, the president and his ardent followers have only made the path back to national greatness a steeper trek.