It has been one year since the US Capitol was stormed and desecrated by a mob of Trump-crazed insurrectionists intent on toppling our democracy. Shamefully, many of the men and women most responsible for the attempted coup remain in office or in positions of power, and the mastermind— the traitorous Trump himself— is ascendant as the likely presidential nominee for his party in two years.
And while hundreds of the “very fine people” who breached the building, assaulted police, menaced lawmakers and destroyed property that day have been arrested, not enough have been sentenced to prison terms. POLITICO, which has closely tracked arrests and sentencing from the event, reports that only one-tenth of those arrested in connection to the attack have been sentenced as of Jan. 1. Of those, just 30 have been jailed. The republic’s very survival is imperiled by the failure to prosecute the rioters and those who spurred them on.
This was not a bloodless coup attempt. People— including law enforcement officers— were killed and maimed. Bombs, thankfully undetonated, were planted. Weapons were employed. Zip tie restraints were carried in, apparently with an eye toward kidnapping officials— or worse. Chants of “Hang Mike Pence” echoed through the corridors.
The tear gas and smoke cleared quickly, but so, too, did the sense of shame and horror that was prevalent among Republican lawmakers in the immediate aftermath of the failed attack. Within days, they scurried back to their disgraced leader’s camp as it became clear that the GOP base was not, in fact, disgusted by the scenes of treachery. Instead of mass resignations from the conspirators, we’ve been subjected to twelve months of revisionism and misdirection— all under the fantasy of a “stolen” election. Worse, the cultists have sought to undermine election laws state-by-state with an eye toward delivering a coup de grace to our federal democracy once they’ve seized power in Congress, which, sooner or later, they will, by their own outrageous design.
How fractured is our republic? A CBS News Poll conducted last week found that 56 percent of Republicans best described the events of Jan. 6 as “defending freedom,” with 47 percent saying it was an act of patriotism. So delusional are the Trumpian lemmings that roughly 4 in 10 believe that the Capitol rioters were actually leftist “Antifa” types, not their unhinged, MAGA-hat-wearing, good-ol’-boy cousins run amok. This is insanity!
Jan. 6, 2021, should be roundly viewed as a day of shame, treason, terror, and infamy and those responsible for the insurrection must be punished under the law. The ongoing Congressional probe into the events is necessary, but on its own far from sufficient. From what we have seen to date, the Biden Administration’s Justice Department has turned away from its obligation to hold Trump personally responsible for what happened that day, and in the days and weeks leading up to it, although Capitol Police officers are suing him for the pain and trauma that he caused them with his false claims and exhortations. It’s the wrong move. The former president should be criminally prosecuted for his central role in inciting the violent and seditious uprising on Jan. 6 in 2021.