By Starlett Quarles
Like most of you, I was completely shocked when I saw the mob of Donald Trump supporters attack the U.S. Capitol earlier this month. I really could not believe what I was watching, let alone hearing: shouts of “Hang Mike Pence,” “Fight for Trump,” “Stop the steal,” and “Kill the traitors” to name a few.
As much as I wanted to believe I was watching a horrific movie on Netflix, the sad reality was that I wasn’t. I was actually watching a vicious mob of Trump extremists break through the barriers of the U.S. Capitol lawn, scale the building’s walls, break glass windows with police shields; and ram their bodies through the doors of one of our most sacred American edifices.
Their purpose? In short, to disrupt the joint session of Congress on the certification of the electoral college vote for Joe Biden as winner of the 2020 presidential election.
Their belief? That Donald Trump was the legitimate winner and the election results were rigged. They also believe that they are American patriots and it is their civic duty to “take back” the country “by any means necessary.”
When asked during their march down Pennsylvania Avenue towards the Capitol Building, “What are you going to do?” One protestor shouted at the reporter, “Whatever we have to do. What do you think 1776 was?”
Along with hundreds of others, the FBI is now seeking the public ‘s assistance with identifying this man for unlawful entry into the U.S. Capitol Building, and for assaulting federal law enforcement personnel.
And what they did in the Capitol was simply deplorable. Tasered, beat and threatened the Capitol police, who were clearly outnumbered. Broke into Nancy Pelosi’s office, stole her laptop, vandalized it, and damaged her nameplate above her entryway.
There were reports on how the rioters even left urine and smeared their own feces throughout the hallways of the Capitol. I mean I could really go one about the vast amount of damage and destruction that was left by these insurrectionists.
As I continued to watch, I just had to ask myself: “How did we get here? Donald Trump? Really? The real estate developer turned reality TV star from “The Apprentice?”
To be perfectly honest, I thought Donald Trump was a complete joke five years ago. Pure entertainment. Never in my wildest dreams did I believe he would be elected president of the United States.
But he was. And here we are, witnessing the corrosive effect of his years of myths, conspiracy theories, half truths and straight up lies. Who knew Donald Trump would be able to push the Republican Party to a breaking point by mobilizing his base of white supremacists, conspiracy theorists, and right wing fringe groups like the Proud Boys and QAnon.
I’m a bit unsettled knowing that the Republican Party has now become infiltrated by people who not only believed Trump’s lies, but also believe that there is an underworld of politicians and celebrities who worship Satan and engage in pedophilia.
Moira Donegan of The Guardian wrote, “The QAnon conspiracy theory is vast, complicated and ever changing. … But the gist of it is that national Democrats, aided by Hollywood and a group of ‘global elites,’ are running a massive ring devoted to the abduction, trafficking, torture, sexual abuse, and cannibalization of children, all with the purpose of fulfilling the rituals of their Satanic faith. Donald Trump, according to this fantasy, is the only person willing and able to mount an attack against them.”
It’s scary when you realize that the people who follow and believe such radical conspiracies as the aforementioned were not only among those who violently desecrated the Capitol on Jan. 6, but are also among those who recently won their seats in our House of Representatives. Most notably, QAnon believers Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, and Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado.
Remember, although Trump did not win the presidency, there were still more than 74 million people who voted for him; clearly illustrating that our country is very polarized. And granted, although not every Trump voter is a violent extremist, his base is very loyal to him; dividing the Republican Party into those who devotedly support him, “The Retrumplicans,” against the ones who don’t.
Case in point, even after the attempted coup on Congress that left five people dead, there were still only 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump on the charge of “incitement of insurrection.” The remaining Republicans basically voted in line with the demands of the rioters, who just earlier that day tried to violently overthrow our elected government.
Crazy, right? I believe CNN’s Fareed Zakaria of “GPS” summed up perfectly the dangers of this growing split in the Republican Party, and the rise in power of its extremist fraction.
“Some Republicans both at the elite level, as well as the ordinary voters, will [eventually] defect from the party; unwilling to sign on to the ‘Trump Family Cult.’
“The remaining Republican Party will become a minority party in more of the country. But it will be dominated by people who reject American Democracy, who are enamored by conspiracy theories, enraged by their powerlessness, and increasingly willing to support extreme, even violent, means to achieve their ends.”
In other words, the future Republicans in Congress may look a lot like the mob that stormed it.
Starlett Quarles is a Gen X Advocate, public speaker and host of the internet TV Talk Show, “The Dialogue with Starlett Quarles.” For more, please visit www.TheDialogueLA.com.