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Perspectives on the Assault on the Capitol

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
AP Photo/John Minchillo

This was not a good day for our country. Congress should never be challenged to reverse election results. Election fraud cannot be allowed to win the day, but this is a states’ rights issue. If you have concerns, join those who will lobby state legislators to secure election integrity by passing state laws to ensure that. 


But we must be clear. We are a nation of laws. The breach of the Capitol is totally inexcusable. Demonstration is one thing; breaking into the Capitol building while congress is working to certify the election results, is a step too far. This mob action has done only one thing. President-elect Joe Biden will still be inaugurated as the next president of the United States with a new righteous justification. Mob rule cannot ever win the day. But why did it happen?

President Donald Trump certainly bears part of the responsibility for the incursion. His comments on the capital mall to the demonstrators who had gathered from across the country to support his fight against what he claimed was clearly a fraudulent election definitely stirred up the passions of his supporters. The massive crowd came to demand that congress overturn the results, something congress really does not Constitutionally control. Trump blamed Vice President Mike Pence for not standing up to the challenge after he rightly communicated to Congress that he did not have the authority to reverse the certification process. Pence’s refusal was Constitutional. Trump implied that he could win the day, but that was an unrealistic expectation that added to the frustration of those who gathered to support him.

It’s also clear that there were not adequate resources in place to secure the Capitol building. Why? They never expected a Republican demonstration to become violent. They had resources in place to handle past BLM and Antifa demonstrations, but only one hundred National Guard were called in to support the local police and Capitol security for this demonstration. As a result, the most extreme agitators were able to break past security and enter the Capitol building. One woman was shot and died. The congressional session was ended, and Vice President Pence was escorted away by the Secret Service.


When peaceful demonstrators were pushed back from the Capitol, most cooperated and left the scene of conflict. Thankfully, Vice President Mike Pence immediately communicated with the military to arrange for 1,100 National Guard to be deployed to help maintain order. As a result, the joint session is meeting to certify the electoral college results. Biden most certainly will be quickly confirmed as the incoming President. 

At the same time, there was reason for the frustration of his supporters. It's also clear that there was no time or available process to verify or dispute the allegations of election fraud. This frustration contributed to the anger of many attending the predominately peaceful demonstrations. As a result of the violent actions of a few, there is no doubt that these allegations will now unlikely never be adequately addressed. The chances of President Trump ever being elected again have all but disappeared. His comments were reckless. He told the crowd to be peaceful, but then incited them to not give up the fight. And fight they did! He was late in calling for them to stand down and continued to call the results illegal.

President Trump will most likely not concede, but the transfer of power is still assured. Even those who support the President, know that one person is not more important than our republic and our track record of peaceful transitions.

This day will be used to make sure that if there were extensive fraudulent actions, they will unlikely be fully addressed. No court or judge had yet provided a public airing and consideration of the serious allegations. Until that is done and our election processes are secure and transparent, trust in future elections is seriously in question.


The mainstream media should also accept some responsibility. Without a responsible, non-partisan media that do their job to investigate and fairly report actual evidence of fraud, people will remain angry and frustrated. President Biden will call for unity, but he would also be wise to call for an independent investigation into all the allegations of fraud. 

Whatever his reaction, this should not change the response of responsible Republicans. Republican Senator Tom Cotton immediately and strongly condemned the violence and called for those responsible to be fully prosecuted. Unlike the rioters and looters from the left who were never prosecuted in many Democrat-controlled cities, Republicans should support holding accountable those who breached the Capitol.

Republicans should not let this embarrassing action deter them from calling for an investigation of election integrity and reform. Stand for principled disagreement, but civil disagreement. This event should not be used to silence dialogue and disagreements on social media. Freedom of speech is too important to let this justify such actions.

Finally, this is a sad way for President Trump to exit from office. His actions today hurt any legacy he might have had. May he find a way to take some responsibility for the actions of his more militant supporters he helped motivate. May he also further condemn any further acts of violence. Elections have consequences. Mob actions have consequences. It’s time for change. It’s time for making sure that future elections build back our faith in the election process.


Terry Paulson is  PhD psychologist, author, and professional speaker on Earned Optimism, Making Change Work, Claiming Your American Dream, and Becoming a Conservative Values Voter. Contact him to speak before your group at

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