What Happened on Jan. 6

The political forecast of 2021 started off with extreme triumphs and downfalls. Members of the Presidential Team illustrate the Georgia runoffs, the coup on the Capitol, as well as what’s to come in the next few weeks.

Compiled+from+Creative+Commons.+Modified+by+Claire+Smith%0A

Claire Smith

Compiled from Creative Commons. Modified by Claire Smith

The Senate

By Kerri Battles for LBJ School aka Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs – Barbara Jordan Forum 2012. compiled from Wikimedia Commons

On Jan. 6, 2021, Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock won the long awaited Senate runoff — making history in the process. Warnock and Ossoff mark a monumental period of firsts for Georgia: Warnock being the first Black senator and Ossoff being the first Jewish senator.

The Senate is now split 50 Republcian, 48 Democrat and 2 Independent who affiliate with the Democrats. As the President of the Senate, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will break any tie, causing an overall Democratic lean to any Senate decisions. This is a monumental shift legislatively: President-elect Joe Biden will have not only a “blue” House of Representatives, but a “blue” Senate as well to support his Presidential agenda. 

Senior Elizabeth Parra is an avid Jon Ossoff supporter. Parra has been following the Georgia runoff election and called attention to the differences between the impact of the general election and the runoff election. 

“I think it’s going to be a part of a healing process of America because the Senate is a big part of moving on, whether it’s economically or morally or as a community,” Para said. “I would say the difference is that it’s not the Presidential election so it doesn’t determine the leader, but it does determine how things will play out in the future like for stimulus checks — that’s going to be very helpful for the American people and so it does play a role in how our future lives will play out.” 

Many attribute this historic flip of Georgia — from Republican to Democratic — to Stacey Abrams, an American politician, lawyer, voting rights activist, and author who served in the Georgia House of Representatives from 2007 to 2017, according to Wikipedia. About a decade ago, she made it her mission to flip Georgia, which was achieved yesterday. Para recognizes the weight Abrams has as a powerful woman of color.

“She is someone that we can all thank for her hard work and for the outcome of the senate and the election.” Parra said. “She puts her foot down and tells people that she is serious about this, and she is not someone to walk over, and she is going to do what it takes for the future of America, not just for the Democratic party, but for Republicans as well and for Americans as a whole.” 

she is going to do what it takes for the future of America, not just for the Democratic party, but for Republicans as well and for Americans as a whole”

— Senior Elizabeth Para

According to Britannica, voter suppression is “any legal or extralegal measure or strategy whose purpose or practical effect is to reduce voting, or registering to vote, by members of a targeted racial group, political party, or religious community. The overwhelming majority of victims of voter suppression in the United States have been African Americans.” With the majority of victims of suppression being Black voters, Abrams focused her voting campaigns around this. 

In an interview with Rolling Stone Magazine, Abrams detailed important aspects of her career and what she’s doing next. Abrams founded three organizations out of the 2018 election: Fair Count, Fair Fight, and the Southern Economic Advancement Project (SEAP). The first two organizations focus on alleviating voter suppression and advocating for voter rights, while SEAP is “organizing now more than 200 groups and academics from across the South to build out a plan for what Covid recovery has to look like in the South” Abrams told Rolling Stone

“I’m nothing special… I’m kind of relentless” Abrams said in her interview.

The Coup

“Donald Trump supporters” by Gage Skidmore. compiled from Creative Commons

Also on Jan. 6, extreme supporters of President Trump bore arms and stormed the U.S. capitol building, breaking windows and — as reported by CNN —  causing the deaths of four people (as of Jan. 7 2:45 p.m.), also making history in the process. 

President Donald Trump held a “Save America Rally” before Congress’ confirmation ceremony, gathering his supporters near the White House saying: “We’re gathered together in the heart of our nation’s Capitol for one very, very basic and simple reason, to save our democracy… You have to show strength, and you have to be strong.”

Afterwards, the attendees rushed the Capitol building, breaking windows and entering the Senate and House chambers. Many of these rioters paused for photo ops in the speaker of the house, Nancy Pelosi’s, desk. The National Guard was eventually called to maintain the situation, but it was long after the damage had been done. 

Sophomore Keeley Spencer was watching live television with her mother and friend when the Capitol erupted into chaos. 

“We’re all watching the news and we were an absolute shock as to what was going on —  we did not expect it at all,” Spencer said. “And it took us a while to actually comprehend what was going on. [My mom] had tears in her eyes. She was a little misty and I was too.”

 

“Black Lives Matter Protest-3850” by Nicholas Upton. compiled from Creative Commons

Many saw the incident as an embarrassment of Capitol security. Posts circulated social media paralleling the security measures taken during the Black Lives Matter protests over the summer to the lack thereof in this incident.

 

“It’s a little shocking how during the BLM protests, the Capitol Building was completely surrounded with SWAT teams to protect it, and that wasn’t even when they were threatening raiding the Capitol building,” Spencer said. “There were no SWAT teams outside, there was no protection. They weren’t prepared and that’s a little surprising to me. Very surprising to me.”

 

Senior Bailey Bright responded to an Instagram poll that she was “outraged because if it were people of color they would’ve killed us.”

President-elect Joe Biden addressed the nation on live television, stating that the events on display were “un-American.” Biden stated that “At their best, the words of a president can inspire, at their worst, they can incite,” and asked Trump to address the nation as well, compelling the rioters to cease. Trump responded via a video posted on Twitter, calling his loyalists to “go home”, but not hesitating to tell them he loves them and that the election remains fraudulent.

“Both [Trump’s and Biden’s] responses had some things to say that I disagree with and both of them had some things to say that I agree with,” Spencer said. “But Trump especially I feel made everyone more angry, rather than the goal to make everyone a little bit more peaceful. He did tell them to go home, but he also said things like ‘they’re not going to take this election from us,’ ‘This is fraudulent’ which has not been proven —  I feel like it just angered people more, rather than making them more peaceful.”

On Jan. 7, Dr. Siabhan May-Washington released a statement to the STA community regarding the rioters. The message stated that: “Regardless of one’s personal politics, these violent actions should never be condoned or celebrated by anyone… Our mission is to educate young women to think critically, to encourage them through Catholic values to love the dear neighbor without distinction, and to empower them to change the world. Our mission has never been more essential than it is now.”

The message also encouraged students to seek support from Campus Ministry and counseling if needed.

What’s Next

The morning of Jan. 7, Congress confirmed Biden’s Presidential victory. As reported by the New York Times, Trump stated in response: “Even though I totally disagree with the outcome of the election, and the facts bear me out, nevertheless there will be an orderly transition on January 20th.”  

Many politicians, including Representative of Minnesota Ilhan Omar, are calling for Trump’s impeachment. She tweeted on Jan. 6: “I am drawing up Articles of Impeachment. Donald J. Trump should be impeached by the House of Representatives & removed from office by the United States Senate. We can’t allow him to remain in office, it’s a matter of preserving our Republic and we need to fulfill our oath.” 

Trump was impeached on Dec. 18, 2019, “on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress” (Wikipedia) and he was not removed from office. The impeachment was due to soliciting foreign interference to help his re-election by withholding military aid to influence Ukraine to announce a political investigation on Biden.

A total of three presidents have been impeached — Andrew Johnson, Bill Clinton, and Donald Trump— with no convictions, but Trump could potentially be the first with two impeachments. According to CNN, “four [Republican leaders] called for the 25th Amendment to be invoked, and two others said the President should be impeached” — the 25th Amendment would allow Vice President Mike Pence to take office until Jan. 20. 

With Democrats now holding a majority in the House and a 50-50 split in the Senate with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris as the deciding vote, the Democratic “party will now be able to set the legislative agenda,” according to NPR. The last time Democrats had control of Congress and the White House was 2011. Democratic control has the potential to change congressional legislation for the next four or more years.

On Wednesday Dec. 30, Sen. Joshua Hawley (R-MO) was the first to announce his opposition to the certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s electoral college victory according to CNN. Shortly after his objection was announced, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) joined Hawley in his objection efforts. As of Jan. 5, reported by Politico, “11 GOP senators have signaled support for” the joint efforts of both Hawley and Cruz. 

According to KSNT, Sen. Roger Marshall (R-KS) “was one of the seven senators to object to Pennsylvania’s certification and one of six to object to Arizona’s certification of electoral votes” on Jan. 6. Despite the relative involvement of Marshall in the efforts of Hawley and Cruz, Hawley has been a primary subject for blame in the escalation of the riots Wednesday. 

In a tweet late Wednesday night, St. Louis Representative (D-MO) Cori Bush called attention to her disapproval of Hawley’s actions saying “Josh Hawley said he was doing this for the people of Missouri. Let me tell you something, Josh. You are supposed to represent St. Louis too, but you do not speak for us.” Bush has also called for the removal of Sen. Hawley from office and on Jan. 7 drafted a bill “to investigate and expel these members from Congress.”

The inauguration is Jan. 20, where Biden will officially take office. These events have left students feeling outraged and scattered — according to an Instagram poll. As mentioned, STA services are available for conversation purposes. If you feel compelled to reach out to your representatives about these issues, here is a list of contacts below: 

 

MISSOURI

Sen. Josh Hawley

https://www.hawley.senate.gov/contact-senator-hawley 

Sen. Roy Blunt 

https://www.blunt.senate.gov/ 

KANSAS

Sen. Roger Marshall

https://www.marshall.senate.gov/

Sen. Jerry Moran

https://www.moran.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact-info