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A Strike on Democracy

by Beatrice Neilson 4 months ago in congress

9/11, Pearl Harbor, and the Seige on Capitol Hill.

Image: Reuters

As any teen deposed from her childhood by the punditry of American politics would, I took haste to my homework after a half-day of school in order to watch the proceedings of electoral certification on Capitol Hill.

Bobbing on the couch with mild restlessness as Senator Ted Cruz made a futile effort to legitimize the President's baseless claims of voter fraud, I was apathetic to the vapid nature of Senatorial parliamentarianism.

As Senator James Lankford began his remarks on the objection to Arizona's eleven electoral votes, Mike Pence was ushered out of the Senate chamber offscreen, the voice of Senate President Pro Tempore, Chuck Grassley, riddled with what I can only describe as mild terror, tabled the discussion.

"The Senate will be in recess until further discretion of the chair," the Iowa Senator said. C-SPAN cut out.

I switched to CNN instinctually, where images out of a movie flipped over the screen. Hundreds of protesters scaling barricades and funneling into the rotunda, Capitol Police indisposed by the masses.

As these images kept being plastered onto my screen, my mind began to generate doomsday scenarios. I was sure I'd look up to see orange and black clouds billowing into the sky from our nation's navel.

One of the militants, his feet kicked up on the desk of the Speaker of the House, points to his firearm with a shit-eating grin in a chilling photo that floats on Twitter. I do not see him the way he sees himself. He may think that he is a spreadeagled martyr to this country, but the mud on his boots sullying papers on the Speaker's desk tells a story of treason and insurrection.

A maskless protester bundled in MAGA gear stands at the podium of the Presiding officer's seat in the Senate, fist raised.

The terror in my heart was sobering.

I've always been skeptical of American ideals. We aren't who we claim to be in the constitution or the declaration of independence. The United States has always failed to effectuate its sworn doctrine. Withal, coming of age in an era in which the President and his party have no respect for this very doctrine has salted these wounds.

In a word, I've always had contempt for America.

But only as I saw this country decrepit, wheezing under the boots of sociopathic zealots, did I understand the importance of maintaining faith in our union.

During the Nazi regime, Trotsky wrote to Communists in Germany, urging them to support Liberal politicians, for as long as fascism gripped the throat of the Bundesrepublik, communism would have no viability in Germany. Though Trotsky and his message may make us squirm, his lesson is more valuable than we may realize.

The American ideals that I had so fervently criticized were the very ones that allowed me to do so. And while there is a middle ground between unwavering allegiance to this country and absolute dismissal of its ideals, my understanding of this country and its doctrine is deeper, and far more beholden.

So tomorrow, at school, I will still sit for the pledge. I will still question the efficacy of the American doctrine. But my appreciation for this country and the sacrifices made in its infancy are greater.

The sobriety of a brush with death is commonplace in the testimonies of those who have been cheek-to-cheek with death. I feel that appreciation as I witnessed our democracy fall victim to the militarism of radicals and thugs.

The Trump presidency has crescendoed in a bloody coup. A stain on this country will forever remind us of the danger of dictatorship. Donald Trump's legacy is no longer the subject of political contention. Those who are tried with sedition are not revered by many. Nixon rests easy tonight knowing he is not the worst President in American history.

Tear gas rising from the rotunda at sunset will join the flag raised at ground zero, the U.S.S. Arizona drowning in the Pacific, the grassy knoll, and Senator Kennedy in the lobby of the Ambassador Hotel as America's darkest days, but we must move forward. We must find reverence for this country.

The night is darkest before the dawn. We are now closer to dawn than ever.

Beatrice Neilson
Beatrice Neilson
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Beatrice Neilson

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