OPINION: Looking back at January 6th


The capitol is inspected for damage after the January 6 attack.

Justin Farris

It’s been a little over a year since the January sixth attack on the United States capitol. Looking back at that historic tragedy, what are we left with. In curt, factual terms, over 700 of the rioters have had cases brought against them in court, and more than 50 have been sentenced. The federal January 6th committee continues investigation into the tragic attack, despite being met with resistance

Ultimately, we’re left with an ongoing investigation, a relative handful of prosecutions, and little actual damage to the systems that allowed these far-right communities to organize. Trump himself was taken off Twitter, but social media in general still struggles to effectively fight misinformation- we’ve seen it with the spread of vaccine misinformation in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

There’s been technical progress, but it’s not enough to make me feel comfortable. In the time since January sixth, our political divisions have continued moving in the wrong direction, becoming more severe and more pervasive. It feels like the January 6th attack is still being treated with kid gloves, and the longer that its wounds fester the worse it’s going to be when they come to light.

We still haven’t reconciled something critical to a functioning democracy in America, and that’s having a basic respect for people who disagree with you. It’s vanishing quickly. To listen to both sides talk, the left is naive and insane, and the right is idiotic and heartless. There was a time when I truly believed that we were moving towards understanding each other, but in the modern day I can’t see it anymore. Long-term, systems based on cooperation cannot function when the participants do not believe that their opponents have legitimate arguments. 

Let’s not forget the reason why the Capitol was stormed on January 6th- because a group of Americans sincerely believed that the Presidential election was stolen. What does it say about the state of our media at large that such an event was allowed to occur? That this many people believed that the voting system, fundamental to democracy, was tainted beyond repair? And, scariest of all, what does it suggest about future elections? This kind of violence is eroding general faith in the government, especially with the alleged actions of the president leading up to and during the attack.  There’s not enough being done to staunch the flow of lies that allowed January 6th to happen, and it sets a dangerous precedent. We’re already seeing similar scenes in places like Florida, where Jason Mariner has refused to concede in the Congressional election despite losing handily- garnering 21% of the vote to Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick’s 79%. 

Hope for repairing America is not yet gone, but we’re definitely burning daylight. The rifts that divide us are growing day by day, and a worrying number of people think it’s already too late. We need to focus up and figure out the basic human idea of compromise, or January 6th might just be the opening salvo of something far worse.

Featured image “Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Ken Cuccinelli Tours the U.S. Capitolfrom U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) | Flickr used under Public Domain.