For the first time in our history, the United States of America has failed to realize a peaceful transition of power. That failure is egregious and inexcusable: there is no way to legitimatize the actions of those who stormed the Capitol on January 6 or of the president who essentially invited them to assault his own government.
The question of how our nation can repair democratic function amid deep civic fissures is an urgent one. There will be time for that. But right now, it seems healthy to allow ourselves a moment to vent, and to ask: What went wrong? How did we get here?
We asked readers on our Facebook page for their reactions to the events in Washington of last week. Here’s what they wrote. (Some responses have been edited for grammar and length.)
Keith Hammonds, Publisher
It was fake news. Most of those who stormed the capitol were not Trump supporters. Simple fact.
Lynda Carlson, Fort Benton
Carly Fiorina said it best: Those who could do something about this behavior long ago looked the other way or enabled the outcome. Congress on both sides of the aisle failed the people.
Patricia Lewis, Boulder
Patricia Lewis: So very true. This “brewing of anger and discontent,” as well as a Congress that’s extremely contentious and works together poorly if at all is as much or more of a longstanding issue and needs to be resolved!
Lori Lagerquist, Clancy
Marie Francis, Clancy
I couldn’t believe what I was seeing and I was livid that this could happen in America. I became more and more livid when I didn’t see these people being arrested. It was surreal to see them just allowed to leave and walk out of there. Why were they not arrested? Is it really that easy to storm the Capitol? Our foreign enemies must be gleeful at the ease at which they could take over if they desired. These people were insurrectionists even if once they broke in they didn’t have a plan, even if (as one has already claimed) they just got carried away. They should all be arrested. For the first time ever the confederate flag flew in the Capitol, and that was a sickening, shocking, heartbreaking to see.
Jeanie Thiel, Boulder
I felt so very sad and could not believe this was happening in our country. And to think that our president caused it to happen.
Ellen Rae Stocks Thiel, Boulder
I felt angry that Trump encouraged the protesters to storm the Capitol. He needs to be removed from office now.
Kathie Zirngibl, Boulder
Our own Congressional delegation shares the blame for helping keep the lies about widespread voting fraud alive.
Jim Nys, Choteau
Jim Nys: The same fraud that over 60 U.S. courts determined to be unfounded, or is there evidence we’re not seeing that leads one to conclude that last year’s presidential election was illegitimate?
Ryan Michael Tuss, Portland, Oregon
Bottom line is, both parties failed America. So many times, the violence and destruction over the past year in our country was condoned by the party it benefited and condemned by the party that didn’t.
And I do believe the press has become more of a place for so-called journalists to push their own beliefs by the words they have chosen, especially in the past year. Example is when I watched the news last night, all news outlets were calling the situation a riot. Over the past year, as Seattle, Portland, and Kenosha burned and innocent people were assaulted during obvious “riots,” the press called the activities of the participants “peaceful protests.”
My opinion, no matter your political position: Demand the press start reporting verifiable facts and let the people form their own opinions from the facts. Unfortunately, speaking for myself, I don’t believe anything I hear from the mainstream media, and even worse, I don’t believe half of what I see in the video they provide with their stories. Don’t we all wish we could go back a few decades when the mainstream media actually worked that way?
Sam Robbins, Helena
Sam Robbins: Great point: both parties failed. I also like your position on the media. I find myself reading several sources in order to get some substance of the truth.
Jake Wimmer, Lee’s Summit, Missouri
I was appalled and sickened by it. We should have seen this coming when this egocentric man was elected to the highest office in the U.S. He has encouraged domestic terrorism from day one.
Connie Orr, Boulder
The best, and supposedly most highly trained security force in the country, which should have been beefed up with extra staff, refused assistance in advance of January 6. Then, they couldn’t defend the fort.
This was the culmination of four years of intentional gaslighting and instigation by the extreme right. Today they scurry under rocks and jump ship and try and pretend that the people responsible for this act of terrorism aren’t on the same team as they are. Extreme right-wing QAnon believers attempted to attack our elected leaders. They are on team Trump and no amount of denial can erase the fact that the Republican party has been inundated with extremists who would rather tear down the entire democracy than admit they lost.
Autumn Mist, Newport, Oregon
Very sad but not unexpected.
Karen Davidson, Bernice
Both parties failed, and I am furious. I am a gracefully aging 81-year-old and am so shocked that I will never vote again. Socialism/communism has arrived; welcome, China, Russia, North Korea.
Mary Jane Taylor Balwochus, Gresham, Oregon
I was furious and am still angry. Although I felt shocked at what I saw on the news there was also a part of me that was not shocked: we’ve been building to this for four years. With so many lies and conspiracy theories swarming around, it shouldn’t have been shocking that people did what they have been told to do.
They wrapped it up into “patriotism,” calling themselves the “patriots.” This way they could do whatever they wanted and excuse it away with “knowing” they are patriots. But what is a patriot?
It’s certainly not someone who storms the Capitol to stop a constitutionally required session of Congress. It’s certainly not someone who is disrespectful to the building itself by doing childish acts of vandalism. It’s certainly not someone who brings zip ties with him to the capitol. And it’s certainly not someone who puts fear into so many people.
Now we have started hearing from many of them scrambling to save their jobs and/or their dignity. Trying to excuse away their part in this by saying things like, “I never meant to storm the Capitol. I just went in to see what was going on inside.” And I’m being told by many that, “they thought what they were doing was right” is a reason why they shouldn’t be arrested.
But they must face consequences. How dare they do what they did? It wasn’t just a crime against those who were in the Capitol (although I’m in no way minimizing what they went through); it was a crime against the American people. We have had a peaceful transfer of power for centuries; how dare they change what is one of the most American of things? How dare they bring a confederate flag into the Capitol?
They’ve taken from us the sense of security we had regarding the places where our government does its job. They’ve also shown the rest of the world how easy it is to storm our government.
I could go on. There are so many other things that made me angry about what happened. But I’m also sad — and tired. Tired of living in a country that no longer believes in science, a country that makes little progress on ending systemic racism, a country that is drowning in a swamp of conspiracy theories. But I’m a patriot. Not a blustery false patriot like those people — a true patriot. And, as a true patriot, I’m not going to allow those people to destroy my country. And I’m refusing to give them the power of owning the word patriot.
Jackie Thiel, Boulder
I am saddened. All around, people need to respect each other and different opinions. Those folks who committed this acts should be prosecuted.
Terri Kunz, Boulder
The violence was not only at the capitol on Wednesday, but we continue to see increased shootings, riots, and demonstrations in all aspects of society. We are now reaping what we have sown: For 50 years the US has continued to remove God and “love thy neighbor” from our society. It has been replaced with horrifically violent movies, tv shows, and computer games. The only answer to our country is found in II Chronicles 7:14 “If My people who are called by my name who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land."
Sue Pasini, Boulder