January 6, 2021 was a spectacle in Washington, D.C. when protesters stormed the U.S. Capital building which was convening to certify the results of the presidential elections. The overrun of the capital came just as Democrats won two Senate run-off seats in Georgia giving the party full control of Congress. One person was shot and killed and members of Congress needed to be escorted to secure rooms as the building was put in lock down. A curfew was imposed on the city.
People bemoan that the United States has become a Banana Republic which cannot peacefully hold elections or have a transition of power. They wonder how a powerful and wealthy country could descend into such chaos. Quickly pointing to President Donald Trump as the instigator for the event is a missed opportunity to expose the root causes of the mayhem. The danger of not exploring it is the casual dismissal of needed changes to society that go beyond January 20th when Trump leaves office and when the world moves passed the pandemic, hopefully in the coming months.
The instigating reasons include the notion that there is theft, the normalization of violent protest and the breakdown of trust and respect. All of this in the backdrop of a broader move to extremist views by many Americans and the relatively newer belief that government actually matters.
People become enraged when they feel deeply wronged, especially when it comes to something being stolen. If rights, liberties, lands or votes are viewed as being stripped away, then people will actively resist such wrongs.
President Donald Trump actively fed the narrative that peoples’ votes were being stolen which was the reason he lost the election, with “Stop the Steal” exclamations. He told his supporters to not even bother voting in the Georgia Senate run-off, as the system wouldn’t let their voices be heard.
This is not new, as Democrats often make claims of “voter suppression.” A conspiracy theory came out of Hillary Clinton’s mouth four years ago when she said as she lost “they were never going to let me be president.” Her backers believed her and held “Not My President” rallies during Trump’s early months in office.
The United Nations also promotes the notion of theft when it comes to Israel. It uses racist language that Israelis are “stealing Arab land” as if dirt can be inherently “Arab” (imagine someone saying that Alabama is inherently “white”). It established a special agency, UNRWA, which promises to enable millions of Arabs to “return” to Israel, actively fueling anger at the Jewish State.
Normalizing Violent “Protests”
The world actively promotes Palestinian “resistance” and normalizes terrorism. The 2% War which began in September 2000 killed and maimed thousands of Israeli civilians is commonly called the “Second Intifada” meaning “uprising,” softening the crimes of the murderers. Left-wing media states that Palestinians are only “resorting to violence” even when all their foundational charters and glorification of terrorists are plain to see.
In the United states, when the Black Lives Matter protests burned cities to the ground the media said that the protesters were “mostly peaceful” despite the videos of massive looting and scenes of charred buildings. The public seemingly gave a pass to the anarchy. When anarchists seized downtown Seattle and declared their alt-left caliphate with a concocted flag, the police were ordered to not engage.
Normalization by definition creates a new normal.
The Loss of Trust and Respect
There has been a continued erosion in the trust of institutions in the United States over several years. Blacks and liberals have distrusted the police for a long time but the nature of distrust has broadened and deepened.
The Internet is a great tool in allowing people to connect and find areas of interest but its use has had broad ramifications for businesses and society.
The personalization capabilities of search engines has allowed people to narrowly focus on topics and points of view that interest them. Such model and migration of eyeballs has shifted advertising dollars from television and newspapers to online giants like Google and Facebook. It forced the legacy media to pivot their businesses from neutral providers of information to highly-biased disseminators of propaganda. The media’s business model became #AlternativeFacts. When the Internet giants then followed suit during this election and shut down opinions which it found offensive, there became a deep resentment to all of the media.
Amid this backdrop, liberal society endorsed the idea that people’s perceptions of race and gender trumped science, undermining the foundation of truth. Even language became “weaponized” as people received daily addenda to the dictionary.
As the foundations of language and science were being shaken, woke society came after America’s founding fathers and institutions.
Kneeling for the national anthem, and the blitzkrieg of tearing down statues of Jefferson and Washington and renaming buildings and institutions were taken by many Americans as not protests but a profound disrespecting of America. The nation’s capital building became a symbol to either defend or mock.
A Move to Polar Extremes and Suddenly Government Matters
Moderate politicians have been forced out of both the Democratic and Republican parties for the past twenty years. The primary system has favored those who can activate a loud loyalist base and targets politicians who have preferred bipartisanship. The test of party purity advanced more extreme right-wing and left-wing politicians, who resemble the talking points of narrow slices of extremist ideology fed on social media and the Internet.
As bipartisan politicians leave Congress and state houses, extremist opinions and laws get enacted. This leaves a bitter taste in the mouths of the minority as the majority advances its agenda without fear of being voted out of office. When a blue state sees a red state dramatically limiting abortion access, it passes laws allowing for legal abortion up until birth, essentially blessing infanticide.
Extremism doesn’t exist in a vacuum; each side feeds the other. Both sides see that government matters as they adopt extremist laws so it drives people to the polls, with the 2020 presidential election having the biggest turnout in 120 years.
There is not one single thing that needs to be done to become a more perfect union and a more perfect planet. The change of administration and broad vaccinations that are underway will certainly help, but much more needs to be done, as the storming of the U.S. Capital building has been years in the making.
- Leaders must stop promoting false narratives of “theft.” While there was certainly a media frenzy against Trump (as there was in 2016), there is no proof of massive voter fraud. Republicans must loudly denounce Trump’s comments, not just Democrats. In other parts of the world, we similarly need to stop inflammatory language such as saying “Arab land” which undermines a chance for peace and the UN promoting the notion that Israel is a “colonialist enterprise.”
- Don’t normalize violence and calls for violence. Watching U.S. cities burn and Palestinians blowing up buses and pizza stores and then excusing those actions as “justice” and “natural protest” encourages more violence. Denounce the violence, arrest perpetrators and strip those who call for such actions of any funding.
- Build Trust and Respect. It will be difficult for the media to turn back the tide and become neutral providers of information, and social media’s business model is built on giving people what they crave. As such, it is important that the source of all articles and information be included with articles. People understand that Fox tilts right and MSNBC tilts left and can thereby understand that they are only presented with half of the story. Regarding respect, people must understand that revolutions produce counter-revolutions and consider that a casual disrespect of someone or something will likely come full circle.
- Embrace the Center. While people encourage the idea of a “wide tent” and talking to the “other side” it must be acknowledged that the fringe must remain on the fringe and not have seats of power. People in the right-of-center and left-of-center can have constructive dialogues of compromise while those at the polar extremes can only battle. If the extreme right or left are aiming to “primary” an incumbent in your district, understand that a vote for such politician will leave them off any committees of significance in the capital.
The capture of the nation’s capital did not happen in a vacuum and it is incumbent on all of us to take actions to reverse course on multiple fronts.
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