After the Elections, High Tensions Boiled into Violence at the Capitol. Here’s Why.


Trump supporters gathered in D.C. on January 6th to protest the presidential election results

Eila S. and Leah S.V.

The presidential election of 2020 was one that will go down in history as one of the most turbulent and unpredictable elections in our country. In addition to the House, Senate, and Presidential elections, a violent uprising at the US Capitol caused congress members to be evacuated and Trump to be impeached for a second time.

This year for the Senate, 35 seats were open for election. Of those seats, 15 were won by The Democratic party, and 20 were won by the Republican Party. The Democrats gained three more additional seats by the end of the election. In total, 48 senate seats are now held by Democrats, 50 seats are held by Republicans, and two seats are held by Independents, who often vote with the Democrats. In the case of tie votes in the Senate, the vice president Kamala Harris is the tiebreaker, giving the Democrats the voting majority. Notwithstanding the fact that the Democrats do not have more seats than the Republicans, Chuck Schumer, the highest-ranking Democrat and a Senator from New York, is the new Majority Leader of the Senate. The Democratic party did not take control of the Senate until the inauguration on January 20th.

The elections for the House of Representatives this year were, although relatively uneventful compared to the Senate and Presidential races, still very important. For this election, all 435 seats of the House were up for election. Prior to November 3rd, Democrats had control of the House of Representatives, with 235 seats over the Republicans’ 199 seats.  After this past election, the Democrats still maintain control of the House, however, they have lost 13 seats, bringing the Republicans closer to taking control of the House in the future. So far the Democrats have won 222 seats and the Republicans have won 211 seats. Two seats, one from Iowa and one from New York, are still yet to be called by the Associated Press.

In the 2020 presidential election, Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump in electoral votes and the popular vote. The final electoral college count gave Biden 306 Electoral votes, and Trump 232. In addition, the number of people who voted in this presidential election surpassed the numbers for any other presidential election in the history of the country, even despite the pandemic.

Because of the ongoing Covid-19 outbreak, many restrictions and protections have been placed on every aspect of life, and this election was no exception. Nearly 100 million people voted early this year, and approximately 46 percent of voters voted by mail-in-ballot. Due to the incredibly large number of mail-in ballots and the delay of the USPS because of the pandemic, counting votes took much longer this year than it has in the past. The Associated Press did not call the vote for Biden until nearly four days after the election,  the outcome of which is typically called on election night or the morning after.

Despite the repeated confirmations of these election results by states, the electoral college, and the Senate, Donald Trump and many of his supporters continued to claim that the election was fraudulent. Trump didn’t concede for three months, and the head of the GSA (General Services Administration) did not approve transition funds and resources for the Biden transition team until December 21st. Instead of conceding, the incumbent president’s lawyers filed several election fraud claims, all of which were dismissed by the Supreme Court. The president continued to hold rallies of his supporters (self-proclaimed “Trumpers”), demanding a recount and a search for discarded ballots. Trump supporters coined the phrase “stop the steal,” claiming that Trump had won the election and that extra votes were either uncounted or purposefully thrown away.

One of Trump’s rallies turned to a riot on January 6th when the President riled up his supporters, saying, “You’ll never take back our country with weakness…. you have to show strength, you have to be strong,” and, “We’re going to have to fight much harder.” This encouraged the Trump supporters gathered at the rally to march to the United States Capitol Building, where Congress was conducting the election confirmation of Biden and two Georgia senators. Thousands of protesters attempted to invade the Capitol building by smashing windows and fighting police. Many individuals (some of them armed), did breach Capitol security and entered the building. As a result, security lost control of the Capitol building for several hours, and many members of Congress had to be evacuated or locked in their offices for their own safety. A gallows was erected on the Capitol steps, while Confederate flags and pro-Trump merchandise were present among the protestors. Five lives were lost.

Eventually, The National Guard was called upon with some resistance from the President, who called his supporters “special” and asked them to “go home peacefully” in a video posted to his Twitter account. He ended the video by declaring his love for these rioters. There still remains a debate among Americans of whether or not Trump was responsible for inciting this riot, and therefore eligible for impeachment on the basis of insurrection and sedition. Some feel that Trump’s speech at his rally on the 6th encouraged the rioters to storm the Capitol. Meanwhile, others feel that these Trump supporters acted of their own accord and the President is not responsible.

On January 13th, 2021, the House of Representatives voted to impeach Trump a second time on charges of insurrection and sedition. The House impeached Trump, and now the Senate must vote on whether to charge him with these crimes. The Senate made it clear that they would not vote until after Joe Biden was sworn in as president. Sentencing Trump in court, even now that he has lost the presidency would have two consequences. He will be prohibited from running for President again in 2024 and will also be sent to jail. The former president’s Twitter account has already been permanently terminated, and his other social media accounts such as Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube have been locked until he alters his public stance on election fraud and stops his verbal violence toward Democrats. Both branches of Congress are now controlled by Democrats after both Democratic party candidates won in the Georgia Senate run-offs earlier this month. Therefore, it is probable that Trump will be prosecuted, although it all hangs in balance until the Senate finalizes their vote.