One year ago today, nearly one thousand ardent supporters of then President Donald J. Trump, at his behest following a series of fiery speeches barely a mile away, marched on the U.S. Capitol Complex to disrupt the election certification that was taking place on the Hill that morning. The mob soon stormed the very symbol of American government and in so doing, wreaked death and mayhem so appalling that the full measure of what their insurrection wrought has yet to be fully weighed by the bipartisan Congressional committee that is currently completing this solemn task.
As I watched the riot's coverage that day, the Civil War buff in me sat dejected and disgusted by the sight of one mob member accomplishing what Generals Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, Jeb Stuart, and the entire Confrderate Army of Northern Virginia never did—which was to fly the Confederate Battle Flag in the U.S. Capitol Complex!
As regretful as the above depictions are, a year later, what's crystal clear to me—and equally regretful—is that American politics are so polarized that the notion of whether the MAGA Riots were "right" or "wrong" often boils down to one's political perspective. Then and now, the overwhelming majority of former President Trump’s supporters have refused to hold him accountable for his lies about the election being stolen; his incessant Tweets, Facebook posts, and rally speeches that encouraged his followers to "Stop the Steal."
But there was no “steal” to stop…
Where I really struggle is in pondering "how" did we, the people, get here? To be clear, while I voted for Joe Biden in 2020, had he lost to Trump that November and behaved in similarly defiant tones in December and January, as a journalist, no, as a rational human being, I would have condemned Biden loudly within these pages—and called for legal accountability because no political figure or celebrity should be above the rule of law!
Juxtaposed to how I conduct journalistic business, a year later, we now know that Fox News host Sean Hannity went on air after the January 6th riots and falsely blamed ANTIFA, Black Lives Matter, and the FBI for being responsible for the day's deadly mayhem—and millions of his viewers clung to his words like they were the Gospel truth coming down from on High! Meanwhile, behind the scenes and away from his loyal viewers, Hannity's text message records show that he was frantically texting President Trump, his Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, and other members of the entourage to beg Trump to call for HIS followers to stand down at the Capitol!
Hannity's two-faced acts that day are but another reminder of the critical role that the media play in sharing the news and providing reasonable commentary on the day's events. When that role is blurred due to personal ties (Hannity and Trump are close friends) or ideology, instead of a clear delineation of right and wrong, the very fate of the Republic could hang in the balance with each lie or half-truth.
Now, when I think back on last January 6th, I do so fully understanding the pain that Trump’s supporters felt when their candidate did not prevail in the presidential race—but the part of me that pays homage to French philosopher Rene Descartes's Cogito Ergo Sum, which translates from the Latin as I think, therefore, I am, processes such pain as a rational human being should process defeat. Four years ago, when I served as a legal recount watcher for my friend and then Florida Democratic Gubernatorial nominee Andrew Gillum in his race against Republican nominee Ron Desantis, when the recounts still concluded that Desantis was the victor, while personally disappointed, I respected the results and never, ever, EVER would have taken up arms and marched on the Florida Capitol Complex to force a different outcome!
What I also found troubling, then and now, is that long before November of 2020, America had endured many a contested election during its first 200 some odd years without the transfer of power being disrupted by the vanquished loser. Lest we forget John Quincy Adams's backroom victory over Andrew Jackson, William Crawford, and Henry Clay in 1824; Abraham Lincoln's victory over Stephen Douglas, John Breckenridge, and John Bell in 1860 that eventually led to a full-scale Civil War (but did not prevent Lincoln from being sworn in on March 4, 1861); the "Compromise" that placed Rutherford B. Hayes in the White House over Samuel J. Tilden in 1876 and, more recently, George W. Bush's victory in the U.S. Supreme Court that placed him in office over Al Gore in 2000.
The above moments in contested election history made it bizarre that in 2020, a year in which Joe Biden won the popular vote by millions, the Electoral College vote by dozens, and 61 of the 62 post-election legal challenges filed by the Trump team claiming fraud, that thousands of Trump supporters would storm the Capitol, destroy and loot property, all the while chanting "hang (VP) Mike Pence” while seeking to literally thwart the peaceful transition of power!
In remembrance, I will never forget the fact that five people lost their lives during the riot; I will never forget that officers who protected and served the Halls of Congress later took their own lives due to trauma that they experienced that day.
Such is why the Hobbservation Point continues to support all of the investigations and prosecutions emanating from last January 6th in hopes that by making examples of those in insurrection last year, that we will not see repeats of the same in this mid-term election year—or in 2024 should President Biden happen to lose fair and square to a Republican challenger.
Thank you and please subscribe to the Hobbservation Point—have a wonderful Thursday
Chuck Hobbs is a freelance journalist who won the 2010 Florida Bar Media Award and has been twice nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary.