A large group of domestic terrorists broke into the United States Capitol Building Jan. 6., disrupting the democratic process of certifying then President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s electoral victory. Unsurprisingly, the nation was shocked and horrified at this attempted insurrection — one driven by a sitting president’s support.
I won’t splice words — Donald Trump and the Republican Party are responsible for the attack. Aside from the speech he gave to these terrorists that morning, Trump has touted prejudice throughout his entire presidency and political career. The people who voted for him in 2016 and 2020 did not vote for him because they believed he wasn’t racist — they voted for him because he upholds his promise of maintaining the status quo in America, a nation built on the very expression of racism through colonialism, genocide and slavery. There is no argument to be had around Trump anymore. Those who still support him are bigoted without question.
However, as more and more Republicans jump the Trump ship, we cannot let them off the hook. The official Republican Party platform expresses “unanimous” and “enthusiastic” support for the man who caused the Capitol riots — to name one event that has weighed on our minds recently. Beyond that, though, exists the GOP’s support of education and healthcare that opposes and denies queer families, its opposition to single-parent families, its viewpoint of family life as existing only in a monotheistic context and its belief that welfare money spent on any family that falls outside of its strict definition signals a societal failure. All of these policies appear on page 31 of the official platform — one page of a 67-page document.
Notably, on page 39, the platform calls for higher police enforcement against “rioters'' and “mob attacks.” Yet Senator Josh Hawley, R-Mo., raised his fist in solidarity as he walked past the crowd of terrorists who would later breach the very chamber Hawley works in. It appears that American conservatism only opposes those who protest against its own policies. For example, in 2020 alone, Republican backlash to protests for racial justice was much swifter and more unanimous than the backlash we’ve seen against the predominantly-white, mostly-male conservative terrorists who stormed the Capitol.
This small example — which I name “small” only in relation to the GOP’s seemingly endless corral of other horrific policies — is not the work of Donald Trump. It’s the work of centuries of Americans, across party lines, cementing the notion that certain people are less human than others, and thus less deserving of rights. We’re taught in elementary school to put faith in the Founding Fathers, but it’s no coincidence that modern America looks up to slaveholders. The principles that upheld slavery never disappeared, as evident in the white supremacists who have embraced Trumpism and the white liberalism — evident in those who vocalize their white guilt over the voices of Black and Brown people who have actually faced racism — growing on the left.
After Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell — arguably America’s most powerful Republican — rebuked Trump on the Senate floor, Biden expressed “pride” in McConnell. Compromise and unity are often powerful political tools used in lawmaking, but as a private citizen, I reject McConnell’s rebuke of Trump. His last-second change of heart — only one of many Republicans to have one — isn’t defending democracy. It’s Republicans’ attempt to separate themselves from anarchy. I do not share Biden’s pride — Americans must see through conservative attempts at whitewashing their support of Trump’s bigotry.
While I may begrudgingly vote Democrat in a system that allots us only two real choices, I can say with full certainty that I will never give ultraconservatives the kind of attention that normalizes their brash bigotry. Truthfully, the Democratic Party and the physical Capitol Building itself aren’t all that different. When your privilege gives you no personal investment in either entity’s actions, it’s easy to construct them as pillars of democracy. You know that, for you, those pillars will never crumble. Yet millions of underprivileged Americans have sat in their rubble for centuries.
Our focus as a nation, particularly amongst liberals, must now shift from giving attention to conservatism to holding liberalism accountable. Young progressives have the duty not to give into these transparent shows of integrity. Biden isn’t exactly a bastion of progressivism, but I hope he will listen to those further left than him — at the very least in the same way he has listened to those further right. While I believe Trump’s name will quickly fade into history, the bigotry that existed far before him will live past its temporary mascot. Democrats will now control two branches of the federal government, as they take over that mascot’s old seat and demote McConnell. This transition in power can’t be for nothing.
Bryce Wyles is the Senior Associate Opinion Editor for The Cavalier Daily. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Cavalier Daily. Columns represent the views of the authors alone.