Wendy Kalman
There are many ways to see and understand

What will the United States look like on January 21?

Supporters of US President Donald Trump protest inside the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, in Washington, DC. - Demonstrators breeched security and entered the Capitol as Congress debated the a 2020 presidential election Electoral Vote Certification. (Photo by ROBERTO SCHMIDT / AFP)
Supporters of US President Donald Trump protest inside the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, in Washington. (Roberto Schmidt/AFP)

As more and more information, photographs and videos emerge and as more and more repercussions are being felt, we are all left to try to put together what happened before, during and after last Wednesday’s attempted insurrection.

Every hour brings new insights or information and for me to try to analyze on top of that seems foolhardy. But I would like to develop one train of thought based on some of what I’ve read so far. Along with Heather Cox Richardson’s excellent daily summaries, which I read on Facebook (also available here on Substack), thee are a number of pieces that especially stood out to me and here is why:

That Republican senators now regret not doing more to contain Trump is more than a day late and a dollar short. Everyone could see the path the president was on four years ago. And so, I think the party sold its soul to the devil well before they decided to scrap the party platform in favor of pledging allegiance. Politicians thought that as long as they got what they wanted out of it, that’s all that mattered, all other considerations, like ethics or ideology be damned. Trump meanwhile saw acquiescence as a gift and has continued to relish the power he holds over politicians while simultaneously (ad this is where the GOP needed to pay closer attention) growing his support amongst his followers.

At the same time, Senior Trump Official: We Were Wrong, He’s a ‘Fascist” bothered me because those finally admitting the danger Trump presents clearly had no problem all along with the man’s policies up to this point. So, separating children from families and threatening citizens’ lives by punishing states by withholding PPE or vaccinations is okay? Morality is not a moving target. You don’t get to be upset only when things affect you.

The Network Contagion Research Institute’s Assessment of the Capitol Riots: Violent Actors and Ideologies Behind the Events of January 6, 2021 named the militant and fringe groups which showed up. It also noted how social media activity and Trump himself made it clear that the Capitol was the target. And then Seth Abramson bit by bit broke down Trump’s speech in this thread; incitement to insurrection is an accurate description.

How antisemitic conspiracy theories fueled the Capitol Hill riots from Coda Story explains the antisemitism was embedded in every aspect the untruths which fueled the insurrection. We Just Witnessed the Dangers of the Autocratic Disinformation Playbook from the Union of Concerned Scientists explains the mechanics, while Arnold Schwarzegger’s impactful video message drives home the significance for this country of what happened.

ProPublica’s Capitol Rioters Planned for Weeks in Plain Sight. The Police Weren’t Ready gave me pause for thought. Given all that has come out since – everything from police taking selfies with the insurrectionists that day to a PsyOps officer leading a group including soldiers to Washington D.C. to an air force combat vet breached the Senate, the idea that Trump has been grooming his own personal force is not without merit in my eyes. (Who remembers the secret Border Patrol Facebook group? That’s when my fears about this started forming.)

We also learned about elected officials who participated, like this West Virginia legislator who livestreamed his breaking in with others, or actually aided those breaking in, like one congresswoman who live-tweeted Nancy Pelosi’s location. So, if we have present and former members of law enforcement and the political establishment trying to attack elected officials (who are carrying out their job to certify results) in order to help Donald Trump, who has orchestrated this, in office, how can this not be considered an insurrection?

And let’s not forget the list of executives and professionals who thought it a good idea to travel to Washington DC and partake in this armed uprising. The mind spins at the scope of those thinkin they can keep Trump in office and willing to cause harm to make it happen.

When I first heard Wednesday what was happening, all I could think of was how short-sighted these people were – how could they possible think a small group (relative to the size of the population) in one location could stop Congress from certifying electoral votes and keep Trump in office? Did they really think this would work? Have they no critical thinking skills? Have they really thought this through?

I still wonder about this, but as I continue to see Trump supporters posting new conspiracy theories on social media, I am also aware of the extent people will go to as they surround themselves with only what they want to hear. I am thankful many platforms have closed Trump out and Parler is currently shut down, but we know that more and more platforms which operate as disinformation echo chambers exist. And if the authorities are not aware or if they monitor but do not act, then what good will it do?

We need the country to take a collective breath. We need all Republican politicians to jointly distance themselves from Trump and to use their platforms to talk people down. But the way things stand now, we know that will not happen. What will they say on January 20? Will it be too late?

Right now, right wing extremists plan to return, armed, to Washington DC on January 19. In fact, the FBI knows that armed protests are being planned in 50 states. Let that sink in. There are people who still believe that Trump can serve as president for another four years.

Trump won’t attend Biden’s inauguration but the focus of these insurrectionists is on preventing it from even taking place. How will this play out? How will this be handled by federal and district law enforcement? I see headlines about law enforcement bracing and lawmakers in fear, but what I don’t know if how many of them are sympathetic and will not interfere? And where will Trump be as all this happens? Certainly not on a plane to Scotland. Then where? Barricaded in the Oval Office? And then what?

We have seen the videos of participants in the attack on the capitol being arrested at airports and on airplanes. Will monitoring social media in order to identify and arrest last week’s participants be sped up? And even if it is and more arrests are made, what precautions are being taken, how wholeheartedly and by whom? As a citizen, I for one would like to know how both law enforcement and our elected officials are expecting next week to play out, how they plan to preserve our democracy.

As a country, we all ought to want to know, how do we get past January 19 to a successful inauguration on January 20…and how do we start healing our country on January 21?

About the Author
Wendy Kalman, MPA, MA, serves as Director of Education and Advocacy Resources for Hadassah The Women's Zionist Organization of America, Inc. Previous roles include senior academic researcher for an Israel education nonprofit, knowledge manager at a large multinational as well as roles in marketing and publishing in the US and in Israel. She has presented papers at political science and communications conferences and has participated as a scholar-in-residence at an academic workshop on antisemitism. Wendy lived in Israel for over a decade and is a dual citizen, fluent in Hebrew.
Related Topics
Related Posts