OPINION: Those are insurrection words: What we can learn from the Capitol riots

Leaders of WSU political clubs reflect on the Capitol insurrection, from both sides of political spectrum



A dark moment in history took place not even one week into 2021.

MEGHAN HENRY, Evergreen Columnist

As Trump’s trial ends, we should all take a look at the events that led to the second impeachment trial for the former President, as well as our country’s reaction to it. 

What many are calling an insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 has undoubtedly caused embarrassment for the Republican party and an outcry for justice against the man who incited hatred and violence for four years.  

Although more than two-thirds of the Senate did not vote “yes” on the article of impeachment, many still believe that he was guilty of encouraging the violence on Jan. 6

The Senate cannot bar Trump from holding office again, but we can learn from these events and become a more peaceful and just country that will never elect him to office a second time.

This trial was a long time coming. But some believe it was a waste of the Senate’s focus, and ultimately worked against the goals of President Biden during his first 100 days.

“I thought, and still think, [the impeachment trial] is a mistake,” Joshua Hiler, member of the WSU’s Young Democrats wrote in an email. “It’s wasting time the Senate could be spending passing a COVID relief bill.” 

It also means the media is focused, yet again, on the foolishness of Trump. 

Some argue that we should move on from the man entirely, focusing on how we can use the power already in place within our government to combat violence in our country.

Unfortunately, we have seen domestic terrorism like the riots at the Capitol before.

Some believe the worst response would be to come down hard on extremist groups, and by default, the rest of America, by passing new protective laws — many of which would only supplement what we have in place. 

I think we should focus on using the tools we already have to respond to extremism,” Hiler wrote in an email. ”Impeachment is the wrong response to the issue, especially since it’s far more important to ask why people were willing to ‘heed the call’ of Trump to riot.

This is a valid thought, as we see pieces from the Washington Post focusing on just that idea. Many members of the Jan. 6 pro-Trump rioters did in fact cite his rhetoric as their reason for going to Washington D.C

In the article, Jenna Ryan, a participant in the Capitol protest, said of her actions, “I was down there based on what my president said. ‘Stop the steal.’ Now I see that it was all over nothing. He was just having us down there for an ego boost.”

Rioters like Ryan believed they were doing what was right to defend the Constitution and fight against an “unjust” election result. Many felt duped by Trump when they realized the scope of their actions.

But for others, it seems the Capitol riot was not taken as seriously as some rioters may have hoped it would be. 

I knew of the protests. I didn’t really agree with them,” WSU GOP Chairman Geordy Greene said. “But that’s their prerogative and they can go out and do it. I just thought it was kind of silly.”

Some conservatives believe Trump’s push for “justice” in what he believed to be a rigged election led to more than unnecessary violence as well. Greene and a peer of his were returning, defeated, from the Georgia Senate race when they heard about the riot. 

“It is very frustrating because I don’t believe that most conservatives would view themselves like the people that entered the Capitol,” Greene said. “As much as I liked Donald Trump and voted for him twice … I knew the reason why we lost two Senate seats was because of him.”

The continued focus on Trump’s push for justice in this election is only wasting the people’s time and our government’s resources. Those on either side of the aisle are now feeling the extent of Trump’s drawn-out plea for justice in the election. 

Many feel bamboozled, misled, used and frustrated with the actions of our former President. And ultimately, the best thing to do would be to move on. Just like the schoolyard bully, when you take away his attention, you take away his power. 

Though the Senate acquitted him, the people still have the power to take away Trump’s influence. 

Our first goal in response to these tragic events should be to realign our priorities in this country. We cannot support one leader with all thought to reason put aside. Rhetoric like that which led to the death of an innocent police officer is unjust

To fight against an election outcome that was proven to be legitimate after over 50 lawsuits were denied is just a waste of time. 

I look forward to watching the trials against those who trespassed on the steps of our nation’s Capitol.

Though they might blame Trump for their actions, those who were on the ground in Washington D.C. for this horrible event were responsible for the death of Capitol police officer Brian Sicknick, and were the inciters of tangible fear among the politicians, aides and interns inside. 

The rioters, though not yet proven to be a part of any singular organized group, still caused mayhem, damage and, ultimately, death. Against those who tried to bar them from disrupting the count of the electoral votes, there was nothing that could stop them.

All of this began with the rallying words of Trump to fight against his imagined injustice.

The way to move forward from this senseless attack is to combat hate and violence with the resources our government has already created. 

Our government leaders must work to bring equity and justice back to every citizen — whether conservative, progressive or uninterested in politics. Media outlets must work to continue to provide reliable truth for our citizens. 

“If we want to lower the temperature of politics in this country, we have to look at all of the issues that are causing people to be upset,” Hiler said. “We need to look at issues like, ‘are we adequately providing to peoples’ fundamental needs?’ ‘Are we adequately providing an equitable system?’”

These issues are at the heart of the division in our country. Words like “equity”, “truth” and “respect” require our attention now if we want to heal.

And Trump does not deserve another headline.