Anyone who knows me understands I am rarely at a loss for words. It’s not in my nature to be quiet for long. I can be, but I tend to live life “out loud.”
I can count on my hands the number of times I have truly been rendered silent. January 6 was one of those occasions.
Let me backtrack.
I have been a Canadian for over 30 years by choice, but I was born and raised in the United States. I had come to think that I had the best of both worlds.
Over the past five years, I found that thought slipping. I found what was going on in the United States, with Donald Trump and politics, was at first mildly embarrassing, at times uncomfortable and certainly unprecedented.
Trump’s tone, his style, his increasing disregard for the truth, began to erode my respect for him and the office that he holds.
From when I was young, we were taught in school, at home, in general, you respect the Office of the President and the person who holds it. You don’t have to like him or her, but you respect the Office. So, I held my tongue. A couple of years went by, and I was biting my tongue.
This past two years I have been trying to figure out what is wrong with the USA and the man in charge of it, so I wouldn’t bite my tongue off.
I kept thinking “surely people will have had enough” of the ugliness, the prejudice, the offensive, acrimonious, constant barrage of words being spewed from the highest office in the land and stand up against this lack of truth and decency.
No, instead it spiraled out of control, unchecked, until on the 6th, the heart of democracy imploded.
I watched in disbelief as the American President committed sedition and told the followers he’d been calling patriots to come to Washington D.C. for weeks, to “march on the Capitol and fight.”
They did what the president told them to do, and people died.
They are not patriots; they are domestic terrorists.
The riot and desecration of the Capitol Building left me shaken to the core and speechless.
I thought of the people on 9/11 who were on United flight 93, who knew the United States was under attack by terrorists and they fought to retake control of the aircraft from the hijackers, until it flew into the ground in Pennsylvania. They were patriots.
The riot and senseless bloodshed in the Capitol was never going to change a thing. The business at hand that day in the House and Senate, was mostly ceremonial in nature.
Mike Pence, as vice president, was never within his powers, according to the Constitution, to do anything other than what he did, preside over the certification of the Electoral College votes.
So where does this leave us, I repeatedly ask myself.
I have to find answers, to the best of my ability, to why 74 million people could vote for a man like Donald Trump. Because of his behaviour and those in the political sphere around him that condone or tolerate him, I have lost all patience and respect for the man and the office. Trump and his allies have made the Presidency a spectacle and America a laughingstock.
It’s not like the world hasn’t seen before what happens when an unstable leader and society breaks down. World War II is a sickening reminder of that.
Can it happen here, people are asking. It already is, I think.
Democracy takes work. It comes with rights, but democracy comes with serious responsibilities. Democracy by one of its definitions is “government by the people, especially: rule of the majority.”
We live by the decisions we as a people make, including the leaders we elect. We need to all participate in that process, and then abide by the people’s choice.
If you don’t like it, work to make a difference and change, but do it lawfully and respectfully. We can’t all win, but we can agree to work within a process with respect and dignity, and to a better end.
When we break down and attack each other, we all lose, democracy loses and becomes a very slippery slope.