Democracy and the U.S. Constitution won after all, following an historic day of chaos in American history as Trump supporters stormed the Capitol building in a spasm of violence that pundits and lawmakers alike branded as seditious insurrection.
Those mob supporters wreaked havoc, protesting the presidential election results and disrupting the vote count, largely fueled by a president who has repeatedly fanned the flames of fire. It took hours to clear the area, and now questions are being raised as to why there wasn’t a bigger police presence given that D.C. was expecting a gathering that could lead to rioting. Wednesday night broadcast showed congressional members, visibly shaken and angry by the unprecedented siege, holding firm to their intent to resume with the vote count as mandated by the Constitution.
Lawmakers, when cleared to return to their Senate and House chambers, continued tallying the votes and certified President-elect Joe Biden as the 46th President of the U.S. shortly after 3:30 a.m. Thursday. The certification also confirmed Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) as the next vice president. Congress is now in recess until Inauguration Day on Jan. 20.
Once considered purely as a routine ministerial task taking place every four years, the process took on a different tone when the counting resumed. Even long-time Trump supporter Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who said he and the president had a “hell of a journey,” concluded “enough is enough.” And in a tweet, Graham added: “I could not agree more with President-elect Biden’s statement to the nation. Time to retake the Capitol, end the violence, and stop the madness. Time to move forward in governing our nation. Our differences are real but the love of our nation overwhelms our differences.”
Biden on Wednesday, speaking live on national television, called the mob an “insurrection” and said the scenes of chaos do not reflect a true America. He called on Trump to “step up” and “demand an end to this siege.”
Trump, before Twitter suspended his account for 12 hours, tweeted a video missive instructing supporters to go home, while parroting false claims, debunked and dismissed by courts nationwide, that the election was stolen.
Following the Electoral certification process, a Trump statement said, “Even though I totally disagree with the outcome of the election, and the facts bear me out, nevertheless there will be an orderly transition on January 20th.” Despite confirming a peaceful transfer of power, Trump still refused to concede that he lost the election.
News reports indicate that senior lawmakers are mulling invoking the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office and ensure democracy remains intact between now and Inauguration Day. National Association of Manufacturers president and CEO Jay Timmons has urged Vice President Mike Pence to consider working with the Cabinet to oust the commander in chief, who some have branded “unstable.”
“This is as close to a coup attempt as this country has ever seen,” former Washington Police Chief Charles Ramsey told CNN.
The chaos at the Capitol on Wednesday also overshadowed another historic event, where Georgia voters flipped both Senate seats to give the Democratic party the so-called Blue Wave win for the first time in 10 years. While the Senate is evenly split 50-50 between Republicans and Democrats, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris as soon-to-be president of the Senate will have the power to cast any deciding votes.
Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.), who lost her seat in the Georgia runoff, said on the Senate floor Wednesday night that while she had planned to object to her state’s presidential election results, could no longer do so in good conscience following Wednesday’s siege attempt. “The violence, the lawlessness and siege of the halls of Congress are abhorrent and stand as a direct attack on the very institution my objection was intended to protect,” she said.
Other senator statements addressed an urgent need to heal the country and stop the divide that has gripped the nation since Trump took office. They suggest an openness to reach across the aisle and work with the incoming Biden administration, possibly giving the incoming president a much-needed honeymoon period that would allow him to advance his Build Back Better Plan.
While Biden has said trade wouldn’t be an immediate priority, he does want to undo some of Trump’s policies, such as rejoining the World Health Organization, for example. A quicker rollout of the coronavirus vaccine program is among Biden’s top priorities, as is additional relief aid for working families and businesses impacted by the pandemic. Both would help the country return to “normal” and help nonessential retailers keep their doors open. He also wants to move forward on investments in infrastructure and manufacturing, initiatives that would create jobs and help with the nation’s economic recovery.