America on the Brink

The events at the Capitol last month were one of the lowest moments in the history of this country, certainly the lowest I have ever witnessed in my lifetime. It seems most media has settled on “riots” as the accepted nomenclature, but make no mistake: what we witnessed were an insurrection and an attempted coup. People who decry this language as hyperbole focus on the group’s delusion and disorganization. However, that the people involved stood little chance of accomplishing the overthrow of the rule of law, and our federal government does not change the fact that this was their intent.

The express purpose of their coordinated effort was to disrupt the certification of an election, the symbolic and literal foundation that democracy stands on. This was a physical attack on the rule of law.

Dismissing the events like a protest that went too far is both wrong and dangerous. This was violence perpetrated to achieve a political end, which by any definition is terrorism. The group at the Capitol are, sadly, not some small minority and I worry deeply about what this portends for the future. The disconnect between fellow countrymen has never felt wider or more bitter. Those who view Trump as a savior and subscribe to any number of literally insane conspiracy theories about the evils of people on the left of the political spectrum are organized. They share a fiercely felt group identity and their numbers appear to be growing rather than shrinking. This is the recipe for the seeds of a true domestic insurgency.

So much of what is occurring in today’s political climate is a vestige of the unhealed wounds of slavery and the Civil War. It is naïve to not consider the possibility that our country is headed in the direction of a second civil war ripping our union apart. Throughout, Trump and his ilk have encouraged and excused political violence. This is a movement that has been gaining strength and momentum, the momentum that may be incredibly hard to stop.

Incipient insurgencies are galvanized by their leaders and this is why we must take swift and decisive action against elected leaders who are encouraging and supporting domestic terrorism. The incompetence of the response to the events of January 6 is not promising and suggests our government is not yet viewing this movement with the seriousness that it must.

We are in a dangerous place as a country and how we respond in the days, months, and years ahead may truly make the difference between whether The Great Experiment survives.