Happy now, Trump supporters? | Editorial

Orlando Sentinel Editorial Board, Orlando Sentinel

We’ve never seen the likes of it before in American history.

A mob, incited by a president, stormed the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday as the House and Senate convened to read, debate and certify the election of a new president.

Decked out in their Donald Trump gear and waving Trump flags, the mob pushed its way past undermanned police guarding the building, rushed onto the steps of the Capitol and broke inside.

Members of Congress, and the vice president, were forced to end the proceedings and flee, halting their constitutionally mandated duty.

Photos and video showed the insurrectionists wandering around the Senate chambers and the lounging in the offices of members of Congress. Meanwhile, authorities inside the House chambers drew their guns to hold back the rioters.

Over the course of a few hours, a centuries-old tradition of peacefully transferring power from one president to the other came to a stomach-churning end as the United States took on the look of a second-rate nation run by a thug backed by his goons.

Are you happy now, Trump supporters? Is this what you wanted? Or are you feigning surprise or trying to find someone else to blame? Maybe Antifa.

You did this. You supported and voted for a man who never really bothered to disguise his fondness for tyrants and how they were able to run things.

Anyone paying attention over the past five years should have recognized the fundamental human defects of Donald Trump, most of all his all-consuming narcissism. He never cared about anything beyond his ego, which cost the Republican Party control of the Senate in this week’s Georgia elections and may end up exacting an even greater price for the nation as a whole after Wednesday’s infamous assault on democracy.

But no matter what he did, no matter how outrageously he acted, supporters stood behind him, giving oxygen to all of Trump’s worst impulses.

After losing to Joe Biden in November, Trump cooked up phony stories about a stolen election that were embraced by Republicans far and wide, leading to the baseless outrage that culminated with Wednesday’s occupation of the Capitol.

It wasn’t just everyday supporters who bear the blame for this shameful display, but also people who occupy seats of influence and power, from local and state GOP leaders to U.S senators who were too afraid to push back against Trump’s election lies, or maybe actually believed them.

People like Gov. Ron DeSantis and Sens. Rick Scott and Marco Rubio, who never had the courage to denounce Trump’s anti-democracy agenda.

And U.S. representatives from Florida like Michael Waltz, Dan Webster and chief Trump enabler Matt Gaetz, who signed onto a lawsuit asking the U.S. Supreme Court to throw out election results in four states. Just throw the results out. They had also signed on to object to Wednesday’s certification of Biden’s election, despite the fact that there’s no evidence of any widespread voter fraud.

How defective is Trump as a person and a president? Even after the U.S. Capitol had been occupied, vandalized and defaced, he finally made an appeal for rioters to go home but not before reiterating this phony claims that the election was stolen. He just poured more gas on the fire.

Before Trump’s mob descended on the Capitol building Wednesday, Sens. Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell were giving impassioned speeches about the principles that form the foundation of this country.

McConnell, the Senate majority leader, was notably prescient in his remarks about the objections raised by fellow Republicans over the election results from states that favored Biden.

“If this election were overturned by mere allegations from the losing side, our democracy would enter a death spiral,” McConnell said. “We’d never see our country accept an election again.”

A few minutes later, he and his fellow senators were hustled out of the chamber as the protesters, whipped into a frenzy by a president who won’t accept this election, began their occupation.

It appears the death spiral he warned of may have begun, thanks largely to Americans whose infatuation with Donald Trump blinded them to the danger he has so obviously posed to our republic since taking office.

Editorials are the opinion of the Orlando Sentinel Editorial Board and are written by one of its members or a designee. The editorial board consists of Opinion Editor Mike Lafferty, Jennifer A. Marcial Ocasio, Jay Reddick, David Whitley and Editor-in-Chief Julie Anderson. Send emails to insight@orlandosentinel.com.