All eyes were on the nation’s Capitol Jan 6., for more than one reason.
As members of Congress met to certify the Electoral College votes and officially declare President-elect Joe Biden the next president of the United States, a few Republican lawmakers objected to the results of the Electoral College. Not long after this, riots began outside the Capitol Building. The rioters eventually found their way inside, forcing officials to evacuate, creating headlines on every major news outlet.
Over 1,100 miles away, these events had effects in Maryville, and generated reactions from the people watching.
At Northwest, the College Democrats and College Republicans both had plenty to say about what happened.
Jasper Logan, president of College Republicans, said when he first heard about the riots he didn’t believe it.
“My phone was dead so I couldn't check the news myself. When I finally caught up a few hours later, I was shocked but understood and should have seen it coming,” Logan said in an email to the Missourian.
Logan said that when so many people believed their votes didn’t count, and the only foreseeable way to change that fell short, it was easy for him to see why the rioters felt the way they did.
Although he has different reasons as to why, like Logan, assistant professor of political science Luke Campbell said he was also completely shocked.
“First, the power of the presidency is awesome in many ways,” Campbell said in an email to the Missourian. “One of the ways this manifests is the ability to inspire and incite. Anyone paying attention to the president’s outrageous rhetoric post-election would clearly be able to connect the dots from inspiration to action, not to mention his speech to supporters directly before this insurrection.”
Campbell also said it was widely known and easily discoverable that something was being planned by Trump supporters and agitators in the days and weeks leading up to it.
Tyler Bears, president of College Democrats, said he was in disbelief when he first heard about the riot at Capitol Hill.
“I was actually on a Zoom call with the College Democrats of Missouri State Federation when the rioters first got in and my thoughts were, as I’m sure many other people’s were, ‘Oh my God, is this really happening?’” Bears said in an email to the Missourian.
Similar to Bears, Andrew Sorelli, a member of College Democrats, was watching C-SPAN all day, preparing himself for a long day of bureaucratic talk, when suddenly the focus turned to the riots.
Like many others that day, Sorelli was shocked upon seeing what was happening at the Capitol.
“I immediately was freaking out, calling friends and relatives that were in D.C. to make sure they were okay,” Sorelli said in an email to the Missourian. “I then spent the rest of the day glued to the screen waiting for the insurrection to be put down.”
Prior to the riots, there were already people outside the Capitol Building, awaiting the results of the certification of the Electoral College votes.
Logan said that too many people were led to believe everything was riding on the events of that day — that many in that group felt on that day, everything would shift in their favor.
Despite the rioters being primarily Trump supporters, multiple Republican leaders and followers across the nation condemned these actions.
“I was disappointed, because in addition to the tragic loss of life of both participants and Capitol police caused by their actions, what they did was shortsighted, unnecessarily dangerous and will do more damage to the Republican Party than any good they could have hoped to accomplish in what they did,” Logan said in an email.
The College Republicans released a statement, condemning the actions of the rioters at the nation’s Capitol.
The release stated that as they condemned any riots that took place last summer, they also condemned this riot, and that anyone who participated were hypocrites and are no better than the ones who rioted then.
“We understand that people are disappointed about the results of the election and are worried about the integrity of future elections, but there is no reason to resort to such actions, such as those taken place on Capitol Hill,” the College Republicans said.
They said they believe in a peaceful transition of power and applaud Trump for accepting the results of the election after the certification of the Electoral College.
Logan said that he thinks this will cause a bigger bias in the media, and that this will be held against Republicans for the foreseeable future, despite all the riots and protests that happened this past summer.
“We are the party of law and order and the actions of the protestors clearly did not reflect those values,” Logan said in an email. “I have yet to see one prominent Republican defend their actions. But nonetheless, the entrenched opposition that defines the narrative will never let us separate ourselves from this the way they gave the Democrats a pass for the riots of 2020.”
Logan said he believes the Democrats will use what happened Jan. 6 to further the divide between Republicans and Democrats.
Bears said he thinks there are some short-term and long-term effects that the riots will have. In the near future, Bears said he thinks that security needs to improve at the Capitol. Further down the road, Bears said he thinks Biden will have a long journey ahead of him in building national unity and de-escalating what empowered the rioters Jan. 6.
“Trump was certainly inciting violence on the day of the attack and we should hold him accountable for his words and actions,” Bears said in an email. “If the Trump administration taught us anything over the past four years it’s that words do matter.”
Campbell said that he is worried for a few reasons about the future, after what took place Jan. 6.
“First, these events demonstrate a profound vulnerability of our institutions, norms, patterns of behavior and physical spaces,” Campbell said in an email.
Campbell said he believes this sends a bad message to enemies and allies alike, whether within the nation or outside of it. He said that many European allies are under the assumption that Trump and law enforcement deliberately attempted and aided a coup.
“That is devastating to our relationships, credibility and trustworthiness as an ally and supposed arbiter of good and decency in the world,” Campbell said in an email.
Secondly, Campbell said he is worried that too many elected officials are trying to move on, rather than hold accountable not only the perpetrators, but the ones whose irresponsible rhetoric also led to these events.
“Unless there is direct and widespread accountability, this will linger and preclude any possibility of ‘healing’ and ‘unity’ and risks permanent damage to our norms and institutions,” Campbell said in an email.
Placed in a mostly-conservative area, Northwest political organizations both said they felt safe in Maryville.
Logan said he is not worried about anything taking place in the Maryville community.
“As a well-known progressive around the community, I am a little worried sometimes that I’ll come home to a vandalized house, but overall, I’m not as worried about Maryville as I am places like Kansas City, St. Louis or Jeff City, especially,” Bears said.
Sorelli said the worst that can happen in Maryville is a peaceful protest.
“Having lived in this town for just one semester I can see this town is not made of insurgents or extremists, but common Americans just trying to make it day-to-day,” Sorelli said. “No one here is planning to overthrow the government; Maryville is a peaceful place, and I don't see that changing anytime soon.”
Campbell said as far as Maryville goes, we need to communicate clearly and honestly with each other about this and its long term effects.
“The small-scale of our University and the surrounding town and area mean that real, open, honest and face-to-face conversations can happen,” Campbell said in an email. “Many will not like the message and the reality but in order to ensure our political stability and future, the difficult work of civic interaction has to take place.”
Campbell said he would also encourage everyone to call or write their elected officials and share their thoughts.
“Don’t let them hide behind empty platitudes and talking points on Twitter. If we value the incredible norms of democracy, representation and the fragile yet powerful electoral process, let them know their absence and posturing to appease can cause real damage,” Campbell said in an email.