OPINION: Democracy is more robust than you may think: my reflections about the storming of the U.S. Capitol

By Miguel Giovanni Navarro | January 27, 2021 1:24pm
Miguel Giovanni Navarro is a political science and history major. Photo courtesy of Miguel Giovanni Navarro.

When I woke up on January 6, I expected it to be a typical day. I turned to my Hamilton 2021 calendar that I got for Christmas and saw that day's quote was from Federalist 33, written by Alexander Hamilton himself. It states that "If the federal government should overpass the just bounds of its authority and make a tyrannical use of its powers, the people, whose creature it is, must… take such measures to redress the injury done to the Constitution as the exigency may suggest and prudence justify." At that moment, I did not realize how ambiguous Alexander Hamilton's statement was, as political change was occurring throughout the country.

January 6 was a day to celebrate. It's the day for Congress to count the electoral votes from the last Presidential Election. It's mainly ceremonial as the general public already knows who is declared the victor. There was bound to be outrage across the country, with the far-right claiming the election was fraudulently conducted. However, nothing could prepare me for the sheer violence and brutality that the country faced in the hours to come.

As you probably know, the Capitol building was overrun by angry right-wing anarchists. I was appalled by how easy it was for these domestic terrorists to enter the capital. Usually, I hear all about these types of insurrections in history textbooks, from Alrac the Great storming Rome to Bolsheviks storming the Winter Palace. This time, however, I was watching it live. I felt as if history would repeat itself here in the United States, that the storming of the capital would eventually lead to political chaos and uncertainty across the country.

I was in shock as I watched Lawmakers' offices looted, a woman being carried away in a stretcher, and hearing people chant "Kill Mike Pence." I remember my hands shaking over the behavior of the Capitol Police. Where was all the energy they showed towards BLM protestors in the summer? Many officers dared to give the insurrectionists a tour of the building and even take selfies with them! I found that ridiculous. I found myself thinking, what in the world has the country, or even Democracy for that matter, come to? 

As the hours waned on, I began to realize that our Democracy is sturdy. What made me come to this conclusion exactly: well, it's the fact that we have a system of checks and balances. Every branch of our Federal government checks the other, and that was the case here. Moreover, the people have spoken with their vote and blatantly denied Trump a second term, providing the ultimate check on the Presidency. We have a system of checks and balances that stops one branch from becoming too powerful. This gave me hope. A few days later, that came to fruition, when Congress officially checked the Presidency, with the House voting to impeach President Trump for a second time. With a trial in the Senate and 67 votes, Congress could prevent Trump from seeking a second term and pulling a Grover Cleveland (If you know, you know).

I reflected on my generation and just how much history we have witnessed throughout our short lives throughout these two weeks. We were born during a war on terror. Now we are coming of age, in the chaos of a pandemic, with social and political unrest co-occurring. I marvel at just how much my generation has gotten so involved in civic engagement. I see reposts on social media, friends, and classmates heading to protest, and millions of them casting their votes for the first time. This gives me the hope that America will move forward and tackle these issues head-on.

I am what you might call a patriot. I love learning about American history. I have a giant American Flag in my bedroom. I have an entire Spotify playlist dedicated to patriotic music. And I love watching political dramas. I love this country so much that I want it to change drastically so all who live in this great country can live their lives in great prosperity and change. What I saw on January 6, or even the past four years was not the America I have grown to love and admire. It was an America full of hate and prejudice. With that being said, the country needs to heal. There must be a strong collective sense of unity amongst Americans for our nation to recover from these deep wounds. God bless these United States of America during these difficult times.

Miguel Giovanni Navarro is a political science and history major at University of Portland. He can be reached at navarrom24@up.edu.

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