A new age in American politics

Nathan Poklar ’24

For the first time since 2011, Democrats have control of the US House, Senate, and Presidency after nail-biting victories in both Georgia Senate races. Reverend Raphael Warnock beat the appointed incumbent Kelly Loeffler by a margin of around 70,000 votes, while Jon Ossoff ousted incumbent David Perdue by a slimmer margin of about 33,000.

Both newly elected senators will join the 48 other senators caucusing with the Democratic Party in the Senate. With the tie-breaking vote of Vice President Kamala Harris, Democrats will have a 51-50 majority in the Upper House.

While Democrats may not have to worry about Congressional Republicans blocking President Biden’s policies, a much more immediate threat arose at the Capitol. The symbolic joint-session of Congress certifying the electoral votes of each state was put into lockdown after a mob of Trump supporters carried out the current president’s call for a march on the US Capitol during the electoral count certification.

Protestors raided the Senate floor, even managing to steal a podium from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office. However, they were unable to breach the House floor as members of the Secret Service had barricaded the entrance to it, weapons drawn.

This did not prevent the intruders from pressing up to the glass, their faces no more than a few centimetres away from a pistol. Rioters in the Capitol waved MAGA and Confederate flags, with many engaging in hand-to-hand combat with both police services and government forces attempting to push them back.

Trump supporters storm the US Capitol on January 6, 2021

Congresspeople had been reportedly equipped with gas masks as police forces released large amounts of tear gas within the Capitol in an attempt to disperse protestors. The FBI has also declared that they had found and disabled multiple explosives. Since then, the Capitol has been secured, although it took the work of the FBI, Capitol Police, and the DC National Guard.

Four protestors and one police officer were killed. Suspicious packages caused the evacuation of the headquarters of both major party office buildings. Despite the day’s chaos, the counting of the electoral votes continued and declared Joe Biden the next president by the end of the night.

This event was unprecedented, as the last time the Capitol was breached was in 1814 by British troops during the War of 1812. Immediately following the storming came both the ushering in of a new administration under President Biden and an unsuccessful impeachment of President Trump, which both bring questions about the importance of national unity in a bitterly divided country.

Photo credit: Roberto Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images

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