This post is an aftermath. It’s an autopsy of yesterday’s events in our nation’s capital. For the record, I disagreed with the riots and storming of the Capitol. Not that my opinion matters on this beyond being my own.
As I try to make sense of what transpired, it matters less to me that there may have been paid agitators amongst the crowd. I saw crowds that seemed consistent with lots of Trump rallies from the last five years. I will assume the vast majority of the protestors in Washington were concerned Patriots and not paid agitators until evidence comes out to the contrary.
Having said that, regardless of who actually led the breach of the Capitol, yesterday was not the time for such action. This is my “should” thinking at work. My “is” thinking continues to inform me that what occurred was a reaction to years of pent-up frustrations, cajoling, mocking, and encroachments on freedoms—real or perceived. I wrote on Parler yesterday that an axiom in Sociology is that if something is defined as real (or perceived to be real), it is real in its consequences.
Taking that axiom, it is reasonable to assert that if Patriots felt aggrieved, then they responded in an emotional manner. They were using “is” thinking and I can appreciate where that comes from. That doesn’t excuse or diminish culpability for the individuals. It doesn’t bring back the woman who was shot in a tragic incident. I have disagreed with fellow conservatives on this. I have no reason to believe that the officer who shot her wasn’t in reasonable fear for his life. If further evidence suggests otherwise, we can address it at that time. Until then, I am viewing it as a tragic, but not unexpected, outcome of confrontation with law enforcement.
Where I want to go from here is to focus on next steps. First, Patriots still have many legal means available to redress their grievances. We can call for a Convention of the States. We can demand our State legislatures nullify unconstitutional laws that come our way. I know that many people feel that Nullification is a lost cause. I know that SCOTUS has previously ruled it unconstitutional. I also know that Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence, had a view that States and Citizens preexisted our national or federal government. As such, he maintained that they never gave away all of their sovereignty. Furthermore, we can see States are already ignoring federal laws, even if they are not doing so under the guise of Nullification.
I also reserve my sovereign right as an American citizen and Patriot to resort to my role as the check against a tyrannical government. I don’t believe we’re “there” at this time. I hope we don’t get “there.” I want us to find peaceful outcomes.
I am also not opposed to the idea of States resuming their place as sovereign nation-States. I know that secession has a very ugly past. I don’t see that as connected to the theory of secession. The States that seceded to create a Confederacy did so for reasons we all find reprehensible. That’s not the sort of secession I’m referring to. What I am specifically referring to is understanding where the power of our great nation comes from. I believe it comes from the people. It moves to the States. And, finally, it extends to the federal government. And if we rank who holds that power, it’s people, the States, and finally the federal government.
Sadly, we’ve misplaced our own power and sought comfort from a government (be it State or federal) that does not reflect the views and prerogatives of its constituents. Certainly, just over half the country feels represented. What about the (nearly) other half? Are those who call themselves Patriots to go underground? Are we (yes, I call myself a Patriot) to be chastised? Are we to be punished for continuing to believe in patriotic freedom?
Many today are understandably upset. I share their dismay. I want to walk a fine line here. America was founded on rebellion. There is no other reasonable way to express that. Within our governing documents, we retain the right to rebel should a future government become tyrannical. The notion that all violence is always wrong is a shortsighted conclusion. Violence in defense of self, in defense of loved ones, in defense of property, etc, is protected by law. Violence to rebel is not clearly spelled out. It is intended to be a last resort. I agree it should be a last resort. I won’t fall into the trap that others have fallen into, making a blanket statement that all future violence is always wrong when we have tens of thousands of years of human history demonstrating that people resort to violence when threatened.
We witnessed riots this summer that many in our own country openly supported. There was violence in those riots. We were told this was a natural outcome. Reconciling that with Patriots acting in a way where they felt similarly aggrieved is not something most people are ready to do yet. Here again, I am going to engage in “is” thinking and avoid “should” thinking. If people react with violence when they feel threatened, then the only way to avoid that violence is to ensure that people don’t feel threatened. It’s not about “should.” It’s about removing the threat, real or perceived.
Within that, I spent a good deal of time on Parler and Twitter last night. Emotions ran high on both platforms. People continued to parrot specific messages AT people and I didn’t see much active dialogue. This is a systemic problem that isn’t going away anytime soon. This won’t tamp down the fire that lives inside many souls across our country.
Where do we go from here? That’s hard to say. Both sides are rushing to use yesterday’s riot as a rallying cry. Historically, the parallel I believe that most closely mirrors our own timeline is Patriots and Loyalists when we were still English Colonies. I am not suggesting I want to see a revolution. I am suggesting that if we think ignoring half (or nearly so) of the country because they don’t fall in line with our worldview will provide a peaceful and successful outcome, we will be sorely mistaken. We will scratch our heads and wonder why, at some unknown future time, we are confronted by the same violence or worse. And it’s because we’re not addressing the root cause. We are engaging only in “should” thinking about what each other “should” be doing. We refuse to engage in “is” thinking where we listen to the grievances that each other feels.
If we’re lucky, yesterday was nothing more than a modern-day Shay’s Rebellion or something along those lines. If we’re not focused on addressing each other’s grievances, yesterday was a modern-day Boston Massacre, to be used as the focal point for a coming confrontation. Let’s find a way to repair our wounds and address our differences. We have been a great nation at times. Let’s be great again. Let’s not demonize one another for holding views that we don’t agree with. Let’s find the common ground that make us uniquely American.
This is what I want to take from yesterday. I’m willing to work with just about anybody. There is one catch. You have to respect my freedom even if you don’t respect me. Cross that line and I resort to those legal options I outlined above, starting with the most peaceful first. As always, this has been the World According to Chris.