On Nov. 7, the presidential race was officially called for Joe Biden after battleground Pennsylvania pushed him across the 270 electoral vote threshold. When all the ballots were counted, Biden won the state by more than 80,000 votes.
In addition to the Keystone State, Biden flipped Arizona, Georgia, Michigan and Wisconsin, giving him a comfortable electoral vote margin and making Donald Trump a one-term president.
Biden received roughly 81.3 million votes, the most of any presidential candidate in American history – seven million more than Trump.
The election wasn’t close.
At this point in the process, a well-adjusted presidential candidate would accept that he or she lost the race, concede to his or her opponent and begin the work of turning down the national temperature after a contentious campaign.
But Donald Trump is hardly well-adjusted. He is clearly unable to process a world in which people don’t quite worship him the way he worships himself. So he filled up a jerrycan of gasoline and proceeded to pour it onto the already-burning political fire he has spent four years stoking.
For two months after it was clear he lost, Trump fed truckloads of lies to his supporters. He repeatedly called the race rigged, compared American elections to those conducted in third-world banana republics and convinced his foaming-at-the-mouth MAGA mob that democracy was being stolen from them. He told the army of red hats that fighting back was their only option.
He wasn’t alone in constructing this big, dangerous die.
Over the past two months, Trump‘s efforts to overturn an election he lost were humored by Republican lawmakers at the federal and state level. They cheered on frivolous lawsuits, demanded inconsequential recounts and amplified Trump‘s falsehood that widespread fraud and rigging cost him the election.
Right-wing media outlets like Fox News ran with these lies. Before we knew it, they became mainstream beliefs in the GOP. People like Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley, two men with their eyes set on the presidency, became Trump‘s champions of sedition.
On the dark corners of the internet, radicalized Trump supporters frothed about violent overthrows. They stood back and stood by, as their leader instructed, waiting for the green light to wage war on American democracy.
When Trump urged these MAGA worshippers to turn out in large numbers on Jan. 6 to stop a steal that never happened, that green light started blinking. They showed up just outside the White House, and the president told them what they’ve spent weeks waiting to hear. He urged the mob to march to the U.S. Capitol and “take back our country.”
Of course, we all know what happened next. The disturbing images of the ensuing MAGA terror attack continue to trickle out.
Windows were smashed in. Lawmakers were forced to shelter under desks, fearing for their lives. Dozens of police officers were injured and one was murdered as the unprepared Capitol Police force was overrun by violent insurrectionists. Another woman was killed as she tried to burst into the House chamber. Three others died, too.
Outside the Capitol, the terrorists built gallows. Inside, they chanted, “Hang Mike Pence!”
Trump supporters chanting ‘HANG MIKE PENCE’ at the Capitol Building pic.twitter.com/iMSOl4u3tg
— Dallas (@59dallas) January 6, 2021
All of those involved in this unprecedented assault on American democracy should face severe consequences, from the president and his GOP allies who incited it to all of the domestic terrorists who carried it out.
The last thing the country should do is move on after the sitting president of the United States and sitting members of Congress incited a violent coup that threatened the vice president, the House speaker, members of Congress and so many others.
Normalizing this behavior would only encourage future, perhaps successful, coup attempts.
And to think, all of this happened – a MAGA terrorist attack at the U.S. Capitol that left five people dead – because Donald Trump wasn’t mentally and emotionally capable of accepting defeat two months ago.
Sean Colarossi currently resides in Cleveland, Ohio. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and was an organizing fellow for both of President Obama’s presidential campaigns. He also worked with Planned Parenthood as an Affordable Care Act Outreach Organizer in 2014, helping northeast Ohio residents obtain health insurance coverage.