We failed

A young person’s perspective on the events of Jan. 6

A+silhouette+of+the+Capitol+building+resting+within+the+outline+of+the+United+States%27+border.+The+Capitol+building+was+unlawfully+entered+by+rioters+on+Jan.+6.+

Hunter Keaster / Talon

A silhouette of the Capitol building resting within the outline of the United States’ border. The Capitol building was unlawfully entered by rioters on Jan. 6.

Just months ago, I wrote an article pleading for political civility. Maybe I was naive, but my wish was not granted. 

Today, I seek not to demonstrate the symbolism of a riot inside the Capitol, as so many others have already done — and, rightfully so. Rather, I hope to share my candid perspective as a young person who has celebrated every birthday inside the United States’ borders.

Watching enraged rioters yank on barricade fences and bash windows of the Capitol building made me consider the ways in which politics evolved during my lifetime. Certainly the 2000s were not devoid of the classic sex-scandal or the condescension of political-speak. Bush v. Gore happened three years before I learned how to walk. But even then, politics was different. There was something more cordial about it. There was respect for our institutions. Some things were sacred. 

Later, Barack Obama versus John McCain — the first election I can remember. The aura of formality, dare I say professionalism, that surrounded the race was simply expected; it was the standard. During one of McCain’s 2008 rallies, a supporter explained to McCain that she couldn’t “trust Obama” and that “he’s an Arab.” This was met with an audible shriek from the (McCain-supporting) audience and dozens of disapproving head-shakes. A visibly disappointed McCain informed his supporter, “No ma’am, he is a decent, family-man, citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with.¹”

This is the political environment I grew up in. It had its flaws, but there were boundaries. Behind the lying, condescending political-speak, and grabbing of power like it just fell out of a piñata, there was a foundation of human respect. 

Unfortunately, this foundation has been cracked. Witnessing trespassers defile senators’ desks and kick their feet up over piles of cluttered documents felt surreal. I’m hesitant to delve further into the events of that day at risk of sounding banal. 

I am disappointed. I am saddened. I will not make any prescriptive claims — I already tried back in September. Let’s be better.

¹The same family-man would later speak at McCain’s funeral.