It’s been a week since the World looked on and saw the insurrection at the United States Capitol and a lot has happened in that week since. Today is a prime example of that, as the United States Congress is debating the second impeachment of Donald Trump, an action that is appropriate and right given the circumstances. We’re seeing reports about potential violence and worse in the capitals of all 50 states and in Washington itself ahead of the inauguration of Joe Biden.
It’s all very serious and very dangerous, as we’re seeing democracy being shaken at the foundations in real time. If you want to see how serious things have gotten, you only need to look at the images from inside the Capitol buildings this morning. They are sobering, striking and at the same time, necessary. After what we saw on Wednesday, it makes sense that we would see sights like these:
As someone who worked for a decade in our capital, on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, I’ve seen a thing or two. I always had great respect and affection for those people who protected the seat of our democracy and I still remember vividly the day in October of 2014 that our people’s house was invaded and shot up by a terrorist. That feeling really rushed back to me strongly when I saw this video clip late last night:
I can identify with the fear of being in that moment and what might happen, and all the thoughts that run through the minds of elected people and their staff at that time. But after it passes, I can’t imagine just how bad things are to be afraid to even post on social media to loved ones about it, out of fear that it might out them and put them or their families at greater harm.
I can’t imagine the sustained and continual fear created by the toxin of lies, conspiracy theories and dangerous, blind partisanship that those people are living under now. After the shooting on Parliament Hill, security changed for good. We saw more armed officers around the Hill. We saw greater checking of people going into buildings. We saw good measures taken that while necessary and right, were still jarring to see. They had to be taken and I was glad they were, but it was still a shock to the system to see it happening, that we had arrived at that point.
But despite that experience of mind, I have to admit that something else that I saw happening last night in the United States Capitol really made me upset, especially given everything that’s happened in this past week. We saw an ugly spectacle in the halls of that home of democracy in the US, one that shows that the illness of extreme partisanship, boarding more on unyielding selfishness and self-centered thought. These Tweets speak for themselves:
I can’t folks. Seriously, I just can’t. I can’t imagine or identify with the selfish, moralizing and downright obstinate attitude that leads elected officials to rage at the idea of having to pass through a bloody metal detector to enter such a hallowed chamber, especially less than a week after it was stormed, and shooting happened inside of it. The indignance and privilege showed by those people was beyond the pale, especially given the way that so many of them berated and simply ignored the Capitol Police officers who were simply doing their jobs, which is to protect their elected rear ends.
All of that childish crap happened while those National Guard troops were getting into place, again to protect their privileged rear ends. They slept on the hard, cold, polished floors of the Capitol last night, doing their duty to protect the seat of their democracy and to uphold their oaths to the constitution of their country. And at the same time, some of those who the people elected couldn’t be bothered to partake in a process that literally every American has to go through on a regular basis to do everyday things. You want to get on an airplane in the US? You have to go through a metal detector. You want to go to a public school in too many communities? Same thing. Want to go to an arena to watch a basketball game or a concert? Ditto, more metal detectors. University campuses, stadiums, train stations and so many other places, all of them have metal detectors to help save lives. In all of those places, those same elected officials would have to pass through those things yet now that they have to in order to vote in the Capitol, days after it was stormed, now it’s an affront? Give me a bloody break you selfish children in the bodies of middle-aged adults.
If you want to see how broken, how toxic and how bad things have gotten in the United States with some on the partisan edges, that scene playing out last night was a prime example of why it’s so bad. It’s that kind of uncompromising hypocritical behaviour that’s become a feature of the make up of too many of them, not a bug. Not everything is politically motivated or some attack on whatever issue you hold dearest. Asking you to go through a metal detector to vote days after that very same chamber was ransacked and attacked is not some attack on your constitutional rights. It’s downright reasonable to ensure that your gun toting rear end gets to go home to see your loved ones in one piece. Christ, is it really that hard to understand or accept?
In the US in too many communities it’s normal for kindergarteners to go through those machines every day. It’s normal for those same kids to grow up with active shooter drills, to the point that many of those same political staffers last week used those same skill to survive the insurrection that was happening around them. How perverse is it, that no one bats an eye at that yet when some Republican politicians are asked to go through a metal detector inside the people’s house, that is just a scandal? I’ll never understand that, and I’m glad I won’t. Our American friends and neighbours have a very hard week ahead of them, and if they get through that, many hard years ahead. Last night was a prime example of the challenge they have before them and if what happened last Wednesday wasn’t enough to shake those of their hyper partisan stupor, I don’t know what will.