Anybody who claims to be surprised by the sedition incited by the president can blame only willful ignorance of recent events or blind obedience to a narcissist about to lose his grip on power.
America's commander-in-chief invited his loyalists — a ragtag group of conspiracy theorists, white nationalists and others captivated by his "cult of personality" — to Washington weeks ago. President Donald Trump promised in a tweet to see them Jan. 6 in Washington, where it would be "wild."
Trump rolled out the welcome mat upon their arrival and pointed them toward the U.S. Capitol. He fed them more lies about the election and ranted about his desire "to get rid of the weak congresspeople” who refused to undermine the will of America's voters then encouraged them to “walk down Pennsylvania Avenue” and “take back our country.”
Rudolph Giuliani, the president's personal lawyer, was unable to provide evidence of election fraud or irregularities when challenging the election outcome in court — where lies have legal consequences. Outside the courtroom Giuliani continued to fuel conspiracy theories with false claims about the election during Trump's "Save America" rally and advocated a "trial by combat" to settle it.
Fired up after feasting on lies and propaganda, Trump loyalists made their way to the Capitol and quickly breached security. Rioters incited by the President of the United States effectively shut down Congress — albeit temporarily — as its members began counting votes cast by electors in the presidential election and certified.
The only surprising thing about this national disgrace is the ease at which rioters breached the U.S. Capitol. They passed through perimeter fencing with little resistance from Capitol Police, scaled walls and scaffolding erected in advance of President-elect Joe Biden's upcoming inauguration, crashed through the glass of windows and doors, and forced the retreat of congressional members, staffers and those who were hired to protect them.
Those "objectors" who expressed shock and horror about the lawless mob that crashed a constitutionally mandated joint session to count and approve the electoral votes already certified by states should have expected this result. Their objections seem to have been staged to please the president and avoid a threat of being primaried and his base to advance their political careers.
And those in Congress who coddled the president, remained silent each time a norm was broken, or check executive power should have known how Trump's presidency would end. Insurrection is sparked by anxiety and inequality and an erosion of trust in government.
D.E. Smoot covers city/county government for the Phoenix.