by David Atwood
Pax Christi Texas

We would be remiss to just look at Donald Trump and the rioters who invaded the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021. Trump was obviously the match that lit the fire, but several other factors led to the conflagration.

First, the Republican Party allowed an unqualified man like Trump to become its candidate for President. Political parties should always pick someone who cares deeply about the citizens of the nation and the welfare of the nation itself. Trump obviously did not meet this criteria. And then many Republicans supported Trump when his egregious behavior became obvious as President, as when they refused to support his impeachment. Why did they do this? I think it was because of their own desire for power and money. They put their own interests before the interests of the American people and the nation itself.

And why did so many people blindly follow Trump? I believe that there are several factors that contributed to this. First, the divide between the rich and poor in the United States has increased significantly during the past 40 years. One factor contributing to this increase is unbridled capitalism. The “trickle down economics” of Ronald Reagan has not worked for millions of Americans. Also, there has been a concerted effort to destroy labor unions. The result is that there are millions of people who live in poverty or near poverty. Trump’s false promises of “America First” appealed to these people who felt disenfranchised from the American dream of prosperity.

Another reason why many people followed Trump is that millions of Americans are clearly uneducated about the importance of democracy. They are also uneducated about world history and the destructive effects of autocratic leaders like Hitler and Mussolini. They did not know or care that Trump’s autocratic behavior could lead to the destruction of America.

A third factor is that racism is still is a strong force in American society and politics. It exists in local communities, in churches, in police departments and in the highest levels of government. This is also, to a certain extent, an education problem – not only book learning, but experiential learning – opportunities to experience and appreciate the beauty and wisdom of people of different races, religions and nationalities.

A fourth factor leading to January 6 is the role of certain faith leaders who misled their congregations by saying the Trump was some sort of a savior sent by God, while in fact, Trump was just the opposite. Why would these faith leaders do this? In some cases, I believe it was to increase their own power and wealth. In other cases, it was to promote certain issues like overturning Roe vs. Wade in the U.S. Supreme Court. Many Christian faith leaders seem to totally ignore the teaching of Jesus about lifting up the poor and downtrodden in society.

To summarize, the United States has a long way to go to prevent another January 6th uprising. Political leaders who are primarily interested in their own power and wealth must be voted out of office. We must make major progress in the education of our children, including advanced education. Economic disparities must be strongly addressed – unbridled capitalism must be reigned in. Stronger efforts must be made to address the long-standing racism in our nation. Finally, faith leaders who support Trump and what he stands for must be strongly rebuked by other faith leaders who promote the common good of the American people.

3 thoughts on “Trump was the match, but other factors also contributed to the events at the U.S. Capitol

  1. Thank you so much for defining the roots of the current civic discourse. To structurally list these factors provides a clear view of forces that needs to be confronted. Many of these, unfortunately, exist in many parts of the world. Is it even possible to overturn these structures and influences? Each individual may need to self-reflect to stay in touch with their foundational beliefs and to act with these beliefs whenever confronting negative, harmful forces. Everyone should, peacefully, have the right to their own opinion. However, as we reflect upon our own beliefs and acknowledge their evolution, we should confront injustice and be part of others’ evolution in compassion, understanding, and justice.

  2. Thank you Dave. This was a fine job in analyzing the crisis. I believe that the # 1 reason is a lack of education by Trump supporters on the near-sacredness of democracy and a fundamental lack of understanding on the facts of world history and U.S. history, including basic knowledge about our nation’s founding documents. I would transpose racism and economic disparity, listing racism as the second reason, and economic issues as the third. Many low income white vote against their economic interests because of their own racial biases and willingness to blame people of color for their plight rather than join with these groups to demand economic fairness. Having said that I want to congratulate you for a great article. Hoping our Lord has mercy on our country! Cathy

  3. Exactly, David. The media has us focusing on President Trump, the symptom of our malaise, because he’s sensationalistic and entertaining. Tragically, we try not to come to grips with our most sordid tendencies because they are much too painful to recognize. Alas, not until we make our individual and collective examination of conscience, we will continue to engender more irrationality.
    David-Ross Gerling

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