I don’t pretend that I have anything new or original to contribute to the narrative surrounding the domestic terror attack and failed insurrection against the United States government. My outrage is not unique. The mind-numbing disbelief is common in the aftermath of such a travesty.
Disgust mingled with sorrow weighs heavily on every American with any modicum of decency. Something was taken from all of us during the events of last week, and I am not sure that we can yet fully reconcile the depth of our loss.
Perhaps it’s the trauma inflicted on our political psychology. Democracy is an ideal. Democracy is not tangible; it exists only because we believe it exists. Now, it has been weakened by the thinking of millions of Americans that will never believe that Joe Biden was elected President in a free and fair election.
Maybe it’s knowing that our Capitol was overrun for the first time since 1812, but this time, it was overrun by domestic terrorists and not foreign invaders.
Or, it could be the sight of the shedding of blood, the smearing of feces, and the displaying of the flags of the Confederacy inside the temple of democracy.
It could be the fact for the first time in our nation’s history there will be no peaceful transfer of power. For the first time in the history of our Republic, there was an armed attempt to change the outcome of an election. This time, 15,000 plus members of the National Guard will stand ready and walls will surround the perimeter of the Capital as the 46th President of the United States is sworn into office.
It’s unclear to me exactly what was lost, but I know it is consequential.
I know this feeling of great loss may never dissipate, the tears we collectively shed over the scenes of that day will never be recovered, and the stain on our Republic will live in infamy.
As we look for the salve to heal this wound, I wonder if we can ever fully recover after democracy is assaulted with such malice at the hands of terrorists styling themselves as patriots. Can we heal the addled and inverted mindset that led to a coordinated attack that ended in bloodshed that would have likely shredded the very fabric of this nation? Can we open the blinded-by-delusion eyes of those who believe they are taking back their country … a country that was never stolen?
This self-inflicted wound is severe. It’s defiantly uncovered. It’s unrepentantly raw. Five people are dead. Five Americans have been sacrificed in raging fires of hatred and malice unseen here since frenzied mobs lynched black men and women in the Jim Crow South.
In spite of the political posturing, the damage control, the false comparisons between BLM and insurrectionists, the noise, the redirecting of outrage at the expense of big tech, we have to find the tap root and rip it from the fertile fields of our republic. We have to ask ourselves why thousands of people would storm the capital with blood lust and fury, and millions more will vocally or quietly satisfy their conscience by some misguided belief that this was justified.
In the aftermath of this carnage, we have to reconcile the fact that this assault is not over; even if there are no further attempts to overthrow the election, the lie will remain forever cemented into the consciousness of millions of Americans. The anger will remain. The feeling of betrayal and loss will remain.
What is the taproot of this insurrection?
As much as I believe Donald Trump is the most corrupt, immoral, incompetent, and unqualified man to ever hold the office of the President, I cannot lay this all at his feet. He tapped into this, used it, exploited it, profited from it, but he did not create it.
When we look at the crowd of domestic terrorists who desecrated one of America’s most sacred of all institutions, what is the common denominator(s)? Is there a clear and definable ideology? According to former Congressman Denver Riggleman, at least seven white supremacy groups are known to have been a part of the riots, but all of these people were not all white supremacists. Likewise, gender, geographical location, socio-economics, education, or religious creed are not independent variables in this equation. So, what is it?
We know the outcome or effect is insurrection and an attempted coup – but what is the formula (X + Y= Insurrection)?
Could one variable be fear of loss?
Did these people act out of fear of loss? The common belief among the rioters and Trump’s base in general seems to originate from a fear that something has been stolen from them. Yes, many have believed the election fraud hoax. This hoax was introduced by Donald Trump as early as 2016 and propagated by his enablers in 2020; however, it runs much deeper in the psyche of these people.
This fear predates Donald Trump. Sure, he is profiting from it, exploiting it, and using it as political currency, but he is not the primary source. Trump is the facade.
When in 2016 Donald Trump declared, “If I lose, the election is rigged,” people should have been predisposed to believe something more sinister is not happening in 2020.
Beyond “stop the steal,” there is an overwhelming belief among Trump’s base that they are charged with “taking the country back.” This begs the following questions: take it back from whom? From what?
The convoluted and misinformed ideals of the deep state, the globalists, the socialists, the democrats, the illegals are all just superficial noise. Underneath the noise, runs something much deeper.
Some of these people planned, coordinated, and executed an attempted coup, many have all but begged for martial law, and most are willing to shred the Constitution and the rule of law to illegally install a would- be despot as President. Ignoring the facts, many are still holding out hope that this is not over and that Donald Trump will be inaugurated on January 20th. For some it’s Biblical, and for others it’s ideological, but there has to be a root to this poison.
It seems the unconscious mind of many Americans has created an imaginary monster to slay because they are afraid. They are afraid they are losing something that is theirs by right. It’s ambiguous and dynamic on the surface, but it’s deep seated and universal by nature. But what are they afraid of, and is there any other variable to link these people together?
(Fear of loss + Y= Insurrection.)
It’s not just fear; it can’t be. Fear alone is not enough. We all experience fear, but we don’t all live untethered to reality, nor do we have any desire to overthrow the government despite our political, civic, spiritual, or cultural grievances.
What is the adhesive that binds these people together? What is the common ground that fuses Trump’s base? What is powerful and insidious enough to unite Christians, neo-natzis, and white supremist militia groups?
What is intoxicating enough to seduce police officers and veterans, men and women, rich and poor, urban and rural, educated and uneducated, white collar and blue collar, immigrant and native, young and old to form a seditious allegiance without merit?
Is it ideological?
No, Trumpism does not possess any core ideology and has mostly abandoned all core Republican principles.
Is it patriotic love of country? If so, what is the specific threat to the country beyond conspiracies that are easily debunked?
What is it?
What is powerful enough to unite such a divergent group of people with such intensity, such nonchalant brutality?
What commonality do white supremacists in tactical gear have with a jet-setting, middle aged, white female suburbanite from Texas. They were prepared for a slaughter while she was posing for selfies – but they stood as one.
Furthermore, by virtue of their attendance, off duty police officers went to war with other police officers, despite being part of one of the most tightly knit brotherhoods this nation has ever seen.
Can you imagine a singular alternative where these people would find occasion to band together with such cohesiveness?
This mob, with purpose and intensity, descended on the Capitol to make an imaginary recovery of stolen goods.
What could it be?
It wasn’t the rule of law, constitutional norms, federalism, or free and fair elections.
Impossible under the circumstances.
It feels deeper.
We’ve all seen the videos; these people were shocked to learn there would be consequences following their actions. These people fully believed that what they were doing was patriotic. Hordes of white warriors broadcast their madness for the world to see; they displayed an unsettling sense of confidence in their immunity; they ransacked the Capitol; they hunted their prey; they celebrated their conquests.
There is a single variable that can be introduced into this equation that links all of these people together: the supremacy of white America.
A supremacy that has dominated every corner of this country since its inception: the media, culture, entertainment, the federal government, state government, local government, the military, policing, Wall Street, Main Street, banking and finance, property, wealth, education.
The whiteness of the mob coupled with the underlying fear of loss embedded deep within their DNA produced a backlash against America itself, lest they risk losing the thing that they cherish most – the systematically protected supremacy of white America.
It’s a fear of loss that has struck at the heart of white America since the Emancipation Proclamation. A fear that has ebbed and flowed since the rise and fall of Jim Crow. A fear that was revived and intensified as a result of the Obama presidency. A fear that became actionable and validated by the candidacy and election of Donald J. Trump.
Yes, Trump seduced and sanctioned the mob, but Trump is a symptom, not the sickness.
Of course, there are other variables that we could consider. There are political liabilities and failed policies that fall at the feet of ambitious politicians on both sides of the aisle.
And yes, I’m being a bit reductionist in my pursuit of the core of this chaos; however, there is research, literature, and correlation to suggest that the fear of losing political, cultural, and economic supremacy by the dominant caste is motivating the white supremacists and neo-Nazis consciously, and motivating white grievance subconsciously.
“Caste is insidious and therefore powerful because it is not hatred, it is not necessarily personal. It is the worn grooves of comforting routines and unthinking expectations, patterns of a social order that have been in place for so long that it looks like the natural order of things.” ? Isabel Wilkerson, Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents
Why is white American predisposed to conspiracy theories and imaginary monsters? What is at the core of “stop the steal” and “taking back our country”? Could it be linked to the fact that it is no longer politically or socially acceptable to believe, much less articulate, what they perceive to be the real threat to their existence?
Whether condemning or condoning, the overwhelming response to this failed coup from Republican members of Congress has been to find solace in comparing it to BLM protests. Coincidence, do the real life struggles of the black community make an easy scapegoat for the faux outrage of the Republican voters?
I have no problem denouncing political violence of any kind, but don’t expect to be taken seriously when you equate Black America fighting for something they’ve never had with White America fighting for something they’ve never lost.
Yet again, we are reminded that we are divided and broken. Perhaps, it’s time we address our oldest failure as well as our newest one. It’s then, and only then, we can begin to heal. Otherwise, we are just putting a band-aid on the cancerous rot festering in the soul of this nation.
Josh Hawley was right about one thing as he stood and defiantly aided an insurrection; he was acting on the behest of his constituents.
Fearing the loss of supremacy (X) + white America (Y) = Insurrection (effect).