In the wake of last week’s riot at the Capitol Building, most of my news and social media feeds have turned into a deluge of shaming from the left and the right alike. And in my own disappointment over Trump’s apparent concession, I’m as susceptible to peer pressure as anyone else. So I found myself wondering whether or not I should be ashamed.
I was, after all, more invested and involved in 2020’s race than in previous elections. All the evidence of election fraud and the the inability of most of our institutions to take it seriously was a wake-up call. So I did say my piece as publicly as I could. I also, for the first time, participated in the tradition of writing to various government officials with the authority and responsibility to do something about it. That’s a minuscule role, to be sure, but it’s a role nonetheless—an ordinary one for an ordinary citizen.
So should those of us who were involved in such ways be ashamed of last Wednesday’s violence or the blaring flat note on which American democracy appears to be ending? After some reflection, I’ve found that I’ve yet to be presented with a valid reason.
Should I be ashamed for not believing the election was over when the media told me it was? Not at all. There is a lot that we don’t know about what went down during this election cycle. There is a lot we will probably never know. That utter lack of transparency is untenable in a representative democracy, but America is currently stuck with it nonetheless.
What is absolutely certain, however, is that big media is filled with liars and political activists posing as journalists. To baby boomers, nothing is true until they hear it on the evening news or read it the newspaper. But the rest of us have moved on from such archaisms because they have proven themselves untrustworthy time and again.
It was never truly over until President Trump finally conceded–no matter how passive-aggressive that concession might have been. And even now with the election decided, it’s not truly “over” because there is no real unity, compromise, or even detente in 2020’s wake. There is only the progressive left looking to crush all dissent and tens of millions of Americans who will continue to find ways to resist such efforts.
Should I be ashamed of believing the election was stolen and promoting that belief? No; indeed, I still believe this. Does violence at the Capital refute the footage from Georgia? Does President Trump’s concession refute the forensic examination of the Dominion voting machine from Michigan? Does the fact that anger over this fraud led to violence mean that anger at the prospect of a stolen election is unjustified? By no means.
As much as they’d like to blame independent and skeptical thinkers for irresponsibly inflaming tempers, the only real irresponsibility was in big media refusing to investigate seriously, big tech trying to cover up the allegations, and our courts–both high and low–dismissing cases on technicalities instead of hearing them. If the evidence were really so easy to refute, those on the other side should have actually bothered to do so at some point. What America got instead was a barrage of mere labels that all amount to some variation on “conspiracy theorist.”
But what I wrote a few weeks ago still holds true. Skepticism of the results is an official narrative. If the prospect of a stolen election is a conspiracy theory, the idea that the elections were fair and honest is no less of one. Both sides believed a conspiracy because those were the only options we had. Any way you slice it, there was a conspiracy to steal the election. The only question is which party was truly guilty—something that should be decided based on evidence rather than peer pressure or fiat.
There is no shame in speaking the truth, in asking critical questions, or in a healthy skepticism. It’s true that not all the skepticism was healthy. And it’s true that some of the protesters in DC lost their tempers over the issue. That doesn’t mean it’s not a real issue. Besides which, you don’t hold your temper by pretending nothing is wrong, and you don’t help anyone calm down by yelling at them that they’re crazy. The shame is on all those elites of ours who failed to realize this. If you run your election like a banana republic, it’s going to be disputed like a banana republic.
Am I ashamed that storming Capitol Hill provided an excuse to ramp up the left’s crackdowns on free speech? Once again, I can only answer “no” because an excuse is exactly what it was. The left and the moderate right alike have already been successfully cracking down on liberty bit by bit for a long time. Cancel culture was already intolerable. Big tech’s would-be oligarchs were already banning badthink. What does it matter if they finish 5 years faster than they otherwise would have? It matters very little to me, and absolutely none to my children. Either way, they would need to live their adult lives in a world where giving voice to common sense is considered violence.
Why, therefore, would Americans in my situation not take a chance to provide a better future for our children instead? Contending for truly free and lawful elections was an opportunity, and I did what I could to use that opportunity. The very nature of risk is that it makes failure an option, but a well-lived life still demands risk. This risk may have ultimately failed, but there’s no shame in mere failure–not compared to a refusal to even try.
And while a major battle was lost, it’s by no means the end. As our institutions continue to tighten the screws on ordinary Americans, their discontent will only grow. As our new emperor and his sycophants take more and more from us, people will find themselves with less to lose, and they will consequently take greater and greater risks.
A lot of our elites are going to find out the hard way that so-called “Trumpism” was never anything of the kind. They’d love it if the American desire for freedom died with his presidency, but it won’t. Trump was an opportunity to advance the cause of freedom over-and-against elites of both parties. Such opportunities were never offered by establishment conservatives who managed to do nothing more than maybe slow the social justice warriors down (while simultaneously providing them with cover). But other opportunities will come. Better opportunities will come.
Am I ashamed of the men rioting in the Capitol building? This is the hardest question of the bunch, as people lost their lives over it.
Now, it does seem that there were Antifa members present in that mob. But there were certainly many more Trump supporters involved as well. So while I suspect that Antifa essentially lit the match on the powder keg when everything went south, there is also more to the situation. It would be easy to blame Antifa and leave it at that—especially given then role in creating the lawless situation America now finds herself in—but easy isn’t always right.
So should I be ashamed of them? I do have a powerful temptation to answer “yes.” Not only is rioting something I never wanted to see , but like most Americans, I cannot conceive of actually doing something like that myself. I don’t condone what happened. I’m certainly embarrassed by the guy running around dressed up like a Minotaur. I’m certainly embarrassed by people on my side rioting—and that is what it amounted to, no matter how much some people try to label it as an “insurrection.” If the hundreds of thousands of people there actually planned to seize congress, they would have.
But embarrassment is not the same thing as shame, for the latter extends past mere feelings about social norms and passes moral judgment as well. As I’ve already said, we shouldn’t be ashamed of anger over election fraud. Neither should we be ashamed of people showing up to protest over it. On the contrary, we should honor that vast multitude who took action on behalf of their nation. And we shouldn’t condemn anyone for merely “storming” the Capitol Building when even the police waving them inside apparently had no problem with it.
The chaos of what happened next makes the rest extremely difficult to judge. But unlike most of the other riots this year, they weren’t burning down buildings and lootings stores. It did cause deaths, but all but one of those were of the protestors themselves. Whose side got violent first or why is not public knowledge.
I wasn’t there and don’t have a good idea of how events actually unfolded. But as for however many or few subsequently lost control and caused and/or facilitated that riot? I can disapprove of their intemperance and mourn its results without passing judgment on the whole for putting themselves in a situation that tested their mettle and found a relative few of them wanting. I won’t condemn them for that while I sit here in my comfortable office. It’s easy to be temperate behind a keyboard from a thousand miles away.
And if any necessary retribution is necessary, it will be fulfilled with or without my shame. Unlike the countless Antifa and BLM rioters of 2020, those few who lost their temper at Capitol Hill will actually be punished for their actions. That’s the price of crossing the line between boldness and recklessness when you don’t control your nation’s institutions. Their actions had consequences, and they will pay for them. And I’m not ashamed of them having to either–only that justice has become one-sided in my nation.
And lastly, Am I now ashamed of supporting President Trump? As you might suspect by now, my answer is still no. We asked something extraordinary of President Trump. We wanted him to stand up to the collective weight of our entire media and political establishments in order to put America first and drain the swamp. We cannot ask the extraordinary but then expect business as usual. Someone who acted like the typical milquetoast Republican is neither what we wanted nor what we needed.
While I can’t claim to have particularly liked President Trump, I’m quite content with having supported him. I’m disappointed that he’s leaving office with a bark that has proven worse than his bite. But we can’t forget that even his bark shook our corrupt elites in their jackboots. They never would have hated him with that constant deranged fury of the past 4 years if he had never posed any threat to them. Accordingly, I still thank him for his service to our nation. If nothing else, we know what we’re dealing with better than before.
So we lost this round. And I suspect the next round is going to be long, dark, and ugly. But I’m not ashamed of trying to win. And make no mistake, this is not really the end. The wicked will not prosper forever, and so we know God will grant us or our children other opportunities in the future. For now, we watch, we wait, we pray, and we tend to the daily work that God has given us.