Like many of you, we watched horrified at the footage of the assault on the Capitol, a place that we have seen in person so many times since moving to the DC area. It’s a sight that never ceased to inspire feelings of pride in our past and hope for the future. Now, whenever we are finally able to go back into “The District,” the emotions evoked by the vision of that glowing dome rising gracefully above the National Mall may forevermore be muddied by feelings of sadness, helplessness and rage.
The events of January 6, 2021 were a shock to us, but not a surprise. Four years previously, as the criminal and traitor who was elevated to the highest office in the land was being sworn in, I expressed to a conservative friend my fear for what would become of America. His reply, “Don’t worry. It won’t hurt you.”
It won’t hurt you. What did that mean? Simple. It meant I was White and well off. Whatever mischief Trump pursued, however incompetent he would be, whatever harm he might inflict on the nation, it wouldn’t touch me, not interfere with the material quality of my personal life. And since one’s material wealth is one’s highest priority, why be concerned?
I need not reiterate all the horrors that have befallen the country since then, the erosion of democracy which, after Trump’s probable acquittal, will be even more in danger of being swept into the dust bin of history. So will be the leading role in history the nation has enjoyed during my lifetime. I need not point out the decline in common decency and in civil discord, in civil rights, our descent into a renewal of the Civil War, the needless deaths and suffering of millions from a disease that was ignored and how it caused the severe disruption in our daily lives. Yes, even in my own life, privileged as it has been. So far at least, his prediction was accurate in one respect; it did not hurt me financially. Cold comfort now that I have plenty to spend and little to spend it on.
How did we get into the situation in which we now find ourselves? I’ve said it before. It is the culmination of a decades long process of having prioritized personal wealth over the common good. The strife that was unleashed by Trump and his political supporters happened because of one thing. Greed.
In their unquenchable thirst for more and even more wealth, through Trump and his toadies in Congress, the filthy rich riled up the great unwashed with hollow words about family, God, freedom and patriotism. Meanwhile they cemented their hold on power, just as their leader sought to cement his own. It was inevitable. It is tragic. It is terrifying.
“It won’t hurt me?” I had responded to him, “Oh yes. It will. It will hurt us all.”
At the time he merely scoffed. And here’s the sad thing. Though I haven’t had a chance to speak with him since the attack, I wouldn’t be surprised if he is still scoffing.