Heartbreaking. Surreal. Disgusting. Despicable. Infuriating.
These are the words used by some local and state officials about the failed insurgence of the nation’s Capitol on Wednesday. Many agreed the acts were one of the darkest moments in modern history and showcase the division in the country.
Claims and accusations have been thrown around about what led to the pro-Trump mob’s unprecedented breach of the Capitol, but according to Chris Booth, chair of the Cache Republican Party, none of that matters.
“Regardless of who it was, who physically broke the windows, physically stormed the Capitol or whatever, it’s inexcusable,” Booth said. “Inexcusable. Everybody who breached the Capitol, in my opinion, they should all be arrested.”
Investigations into the riot are ongoing, as are arrests of individuals identified in photos and security camera footage, though five deaths and at least 80 arrests have been attributed to the protest-gone-wrong.
Though Booth couldn’t say whether or not there was merit in the bipartisan statements blaming Pres. Donald Trump for inciting the violence, “it certainly didn’t help” that he was at a rally continuing the unproven narrative of a “stolen election” and calling on supporters “to fight” and “show strength” in the moments — and months — before the fateful siege.
House Rep. Casey Snider, of Paradise, said while Wednesday was “likely the culmination of 10, 15 years of animosity in politics” and while he, as a Republican, supports the president, “President Trump has to own this.”
“President Trump has fulminated that and has fueled it, and I think that division has been a sort of a hallmark of his presidency,” Snider said. “The election happened in the first part of November. And then he pursued every legal remedy to question or to investigate concerns raised by him or his team or other witnesses, and those processes were overturned, without exception in nearly every place, and in many instances, by his own Republican conservative appointees.”
Snider, referencing the violence and countering ideologies following the Civil War, said “this is clearly not the most destructive time that we’ve ever seen before.”
“But we’ve been there,” Snider said. “I think we can (heal from the divisiveness), but the reality of it, though, is both parties in the end are to blame, and both parties are going to have to make the change.”
After Congress resumed to certify the electoral votes confirming President-elect Joe Biden’s win in November, there were bipartisan speeches calling for unity, but the fact they were accompanied by more finger-pointing and hateful rhetoric from both sides dulled the sentiment, according to newly elected State Senator Chris Wilson, R-Logan.
“That’s not going to heal the wounds, the anger and hatred,” said the District 25 senator who was sworn into office moments before the violence in Washington D.C. began. “We need to stop pointing the finger at each other. Both sides have been doing that.”
Though it’s seen less on the local level, the vitriol still exists in Utah, shown in the videos that have surfaced of Sen. Mitt Romney being heckled and harassed in the airport on his way to D.C. prior to Wednesday’s chaos.
“It’s, again, sad and ridiculous,” Booth said. “I think that’s deplorable. I just think it’s ridiculous that you would treat someone that way. Whether you disagree with them or not, you don’t treat people that way.”
Every lawmaker who shared their view with The Herald Journal highlighted the need to work together and be accepting of differing ideologies in order to heal the national divide.
“I believe in the Pledge of Allegiance, and I believe that in that pledge, it requires us to behave civilly and to engage with one another, in a respectful way,” said Rep. Dan Johnson, R-Logan, “to try to arrive at conclusions for really difficult things by sitting down with diverse people with diverse backgrounds, diverse ideas, and coming up with what’s best.”
Wilson added: “In our community, I think we’re more unified than other parts, especially in the country but even in the state. But that doesn’t mean we can’t improve.”
Johnson said the Civic Engagement Amendment that will be brought up in the 2021 legislative session might be a possibility to both address the need and get students involved from a young age.
“It’s to run a pilot project to see how we could give credit to graduating students from our high schools who’ve completed a civic engagement project,” he said. “In this pilot project, over three years, we will assess students, like what’s their experience with it, but we’ll also provide staff development for teachers of government.”
Johnson added in order to continue fostering trust in Utah’s voting system, a piece of legislation is in review that would give voters tracking updates on their ballot’s progression beyond the current state website’s capabilities.
Similarly, in his speech to the Senate, Romney stated, “The best way we could show respect for the voters who were upset (with the election’s results) is by telling them the truth. That’s the burden. That’s the duty of leadership.”