What happened is shocking, heartbreaking, and previously unthinkable.
By Wolf Richter for WOLF STREET.
Following a speech by President Trump to his supporters, where he told them to go to the Capitol, they went to the Capitol to protest. Then a mob formed and broke into the Capitol and stormed through the hallways. At the time, the House and the Senate were debating the election results.
Amid utter chaos, Vice President Pence was rushed out of the Senate chamber. Capitol Police then escorted Senators and Members of the House from the Capitol building. The mob, adorned with Trump merchandise, entered the Senate chamber, the offices of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and others, amid reports of gun fire.
Just before, majority leader of the Senate Mitch McConnell, Republican Senator of Kentucky, was giving a speech explaining his intention to vote against other Senators’ challenges against Joe Biden’s victory, according to the New York Times. In the speech, he called some of President Trump’s claims of election fraud “sweeping conspiracy theories.” He said, “The voters, the courts, and the states have all spoken. If we overrule them all, it would damage our republic forever.” And he added, “If this election were overturned by mere allegations from the losing side, our democracy would enter a death spiral.”
The US Army, upon a request from Mayor Muriel Bowser, is activating 1,100 members of District of Columbia National Guard, according to an Army official. It remained unclear what their function would be or if they would go to the Capitol. Under a preexisting agreement, the neighboring states of Virginia and Maryland are sending police units to Washington. Bowser also announced a curfew from 6 p.m. Wednesday to 6 a.m. Thursday. Events continue to unfold.
This is truly a shocking and historic moment for the US, where a mob, riled up by the President who’d lost an election but refuses to concede, stormed into the Capitol, with Senators and Members of the House being rushed out of the way to safety.
This is a scene similar to the ones we may have seen in the past in some capitals in Africa or Latin America. It’s shocking and it’s heartbreaking that this is happening in Washington DC. But it’s not totally unexpected, given the game of brinkmanship some Republicans have been playing in recent months. And that game has now gotten out of hand, and they lost control over it.
But I can already hear the voices on Wall Street, and the Robinhood traders, and all the folks constantly promoting the ever-lasting-to-the-sky Pandemic rally. Everything is just fine because stocks are up.
Just like they have been saying for months that the economy is doing just fine because stocks are up. Forget the millions of unemployed people. Forget the hardships and disfigurement and distortions of the economy. Forget the trillions of dollars in taxpayer money and in newly created money to keep this economy afloat and markets from collapsing. They’ve been saying, everything is fine because stocks are up.
And in a similarly amazing and utterly cynical feat, stocks today surged, with the S&P 500 closing the day up 0.6%, though it was below its level before the chaos at the Capitol unfolded. The Dow closed up 1.4%. The Russell 2000 soared nearly 4%.
So everything is fine in the US because stocks are up? Hardly.
This moment, and its consequences, have stained US democracy forever. Democracy is never a perfect thing. It’s always messy and noisy. Lots of people are rightfully cynical about the processes, about the money involved, about the abuses of power, about the behind-the-scenes shenanigans, about the characters involved, about how people get trampled by this system. But there are checks and balances. The whole system with all its warts, wrinkles, and blemishes, is supposed to enable a peaceful transfer of power so that the Nation can go on. That’s the bedrock of US democracy. But what we’re seeing today is a crazy banana republic moment.
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