We the people.
We. The. People.
We as in us, everybody, rich or poor, black or white, brown, red or any hue in between.
We the people. Man, woman, child, of high status or low, of lofty station or far more modest means.
We the people. Gay, straight, right, left, center, radical, conservative, or totally indifferent to the political process.
We the people. That’s the foundation on which this great nation is built, the firmament protecting our democracy against the rising tide of extremism and oppression that has taken hold in so much of the world.
We the people.
But this past Wednesday a large group of people attempted to turn that narrative on its head. At the urging of the president of the United States, some of his family and closest aides, this group stormed the U.S. Capitol, broke in, disrupted a joint session of Congress and sent senators and representatives scrambling for their very lives.
The building was ransacked. Property was looted or destroyed. Only the actions of some quick-thinking congressional aides saved the ceremonial boxes of ballots from the Electoral College from the intruders. After all, that’s what the members of Congress were there to do, once and for all to certify the election of Joe Biden as the 46th president of the land.
But these people had other ideas. Suddenly we the people became we the mob.
We the mob. We who don’t like how the election came out and want to take the law into our own hands, smashing through the doors of the Capitol and inflicting a brief, violent reign of terror upon the people’s house.
We the mob, inflamed and intent on violence.
Benjamin Franklin, writing to Joseph Galloway in February of 1775, said “Passion governs, and she never governs wisely.”
But the shameful display of Wednesday last went far beyond passion. This was insurrection, this was anarchy, this was an assault on the rule of law and on American democracy.
We the mob. Inflamed by a series of lies coming from the White House concerning the efficacy of November’s election, spurred on by the president’s call to march on the Capitol and fueled by his attorney Rudi Giuliani’s exhortation of “trial by combat,” succeeded in doing what hadn’t been accomplished since 1814, they breached the Capitol building.
The assault in 1814, of course, was conducted by a foreign enemy force, the vaunted British Army. They set fire to the place but couldn’t manage to burn it to the ground, which was their aim.
This assault was conducted by a domestic enemy. The aim of the thugs and hoodlums who stormed the building Wednesday was unclear. Were they simply trying to make a point, take a stand, or merely disrupt and terrorize? If so, they succeeded, at least partially.
If they were intent on thwarting the Constitutionally mandated business of Congress, they failed, miserably.
After running for their lives and hiding in undisclosed locations, some members left messages for loved ones as if those would be their last communications on this earth. They eventually returned to work after Capitol Police drove all the rioters out of the building and rendered it secure.
When Congress eventually resumed its work on the task at hand, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell took the podium and said this about the group he called “The unhinged crowd. They tried to disrupt our Democracy, they failed, they failed. They failed to attempt to disrupt Congress. This failed insurrection only underscores how crucial the task before us is, for our republic.”
We the mob. That’s not America. If these poor misguided folks somehow see themselves as patriots, they are sadly mistaken. They are anything but.
For many years some on the right have directed the catchphrase, “America, love it or leave it,” to those on the left. So I now throw it back to those who took part in Wednesday’s pathetic mob. Mob rule is anti-American, so, America, love it or leave it.
We the people will help you pack.