Rhetoric has repercussions, and as President-elect Joe Biden said, “At their best, the words of a president can inspire. At their worst, they can incite.” Wednesday, Jan. 6, Trump incited thousands to storm the Capitol in a deadly siege. Windows were smashed. Lawmakers feared for their lives. Confederate flags filled the operational heart of our democracy. Protesters brought weapons, seemingly prepared for battle.
Considering that Trump tear-gassed peaceful protesters for a photo-op and reinstated the law that mandated 10-year prison sentences for vandalizing Confederate monuments, you would think that his response to the siege would have been brutal. After all, he stands firmly for “law and order,” right? He also tweeted messages during BLM protests saying, “when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” so you would think that he would not want to see the Capitol Building terrorized, right? No. Instead he put out a video – a one minute video – that affirmed his supporters’ mission. He stated that the election was rigged, and both sides know it. He briefly said “go home,” but he also said to these mobsters that they were great people, and “we love you.” Nowhere in his speech before the siege did he say “protest peacefully.”
Many Republican legislators have flip-flopped and decided that they do not support Trump’s assault on democracy. Two Trumpublicans are local: Representative Ben Cline and Representative Morgan Griffith. Both continue to contest the election results, even signing their names to lawsuits to overturn legitimate votes. They continue to support these baseless claims and echo dangerous and deadly rhetoric. This is why I, alongside other constituents in the area, ask both Representative Cline and Representative Griffith to resign. Both lawmakers have proved they cannot uphold their responsibilities to the Constitution, and by feeding into Trump’s sore-loser, delusional rhetoric, they support the violence we saw on the 6th.