Opinion

Kyle Troutman: Where do we go from here?

Saturday, January 9, 2021

This past week, my wife and I celebrated our delayed honeymoon in the Smoky Mountains, and while we enjoyed our time away, our drive home on Wednesday quickly threw us back into the real world where the smoke was not so beautiful.

The events in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6, 2021 will live in infamy, as a fire stoked by the highest levels of our government grew out of control and resulted in the first breach of our nation’s Capitol since British forces burned the building during the war of 1812.

To those paying any kind of moderate attention, Wednesday’s events came as no surprised. In the weeks leading up to the day Congress would be charged with certifying the 2020 election’s electoral college results, many were calling for events that ultimately took place.

There were countless screenshots I saw from the new right-wing social media app Parler showing posts from extremist leaders advocating an overthrow of the government and chaos at the steps of the Capitol.

As we were driving home Wednesday, we were rotating news channels and watching the chaos unfold. To be honest, I thought it would be much worse. The fact that only five people died, one of whom was an Air Force veteran from California who was shot inside the building and another a Capitol Police officer who died from injuries during the event, is surprising. From what I had seen leading up to the day, I expected much more gunfire than what actually occurred.

Yet, the most surprising thing to me about Wednesday was the seemingly lack of preparation by law enforcement given the expectations of the day. A popular photo being circulated is one of Richard Barnett, 60, who lives a stone’s throw away from Barry County. The Gravette, Ark., man broke into the office of U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, propped his feet on her desk and took a piece of her mail.

He then was reportedly confronted by police with pepper spray and ultimately walked out of the office and back onto Capitol grounds to brag about his escapade.

How this man, and so many others, we able to breach the building, as far as standing on the U.S. Senate dais, and leave without being arrested — or shot — is beyond my comprehension.

The actions by those in the building amount to terrorism, and they should be punished accordingly. Branding the individuals as “patriots” is striking. A true patriot does not attack his own government in an attempted coup and damage the symbol of our democracy.

What baffles me more about the actions of the mob are that they are individuals who would shout “Blue Lives Matter” and supposedly have a deep reverence for the Constitution. Their treatment of police and attempt to halt Congress’ Constitutional duties show otherwise — and above all else, they failed.

Blame for Wednesday’s events will surely make the rounds. The argument could be made it began with President Trump himself, who addressed the crowd at a rally nearby prior to the incident.

“And after this, we’re going to walk down there, and I’ll be there with you, we’re going to walk down ... to the Capitol and we are going to cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women,” Trump told the crowd. “And, we’re probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them. Because you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength and you have to be strong.”

Trump did not walk with the crowd.

Another agitator that should share some of the blame is from our on backyard — Sen. Josh Hawley. As one of the leaders of the attempt in the Senate to overturn the electoral college result, his actions trampled the Constitution and the process that has been completed every four years since this country’s inception. Congress has never gone against the electoral college, nor should it, as that would be an affront to states’ rights and the will of the people.

Hawley’s bit of political theatre — not to mention his power fist of support to the crowd that would later storm his chambers — added oxygen to the embers of insurrection.

The fallout from the day is still being assessed. Ultimately, Congress completed its duty and certified the results, proving democracy will always win in the face of violence and unrest. The remaining two weeks before President-Elect Joe Biden takes office will hopefully be calmer days.

As we move forward, we as Americans should remember this day with distain and embarrassment. We should use it as a springboard for elevating us to become better than we have been the past four, eight or 12 years and reevaluate who we are as a Republic and how we treat one another and settle our differences.

What we saw Wednesday was not it, and we have a long, smoky road ahead.

Kyle Troutman has served as the editor of The Monett Times since 2014. In 2017, he was named William E. James/Missouri Outstanding Young Journalist for daily newspapers. He may be reached at 417-847-2610 or editor@cassville-democrat.com.