Looking for Hope

admin's picture
Michelle Phillips

In January 2009, I was working at the Anamosa Journal-Eureka, a newspaper nestled in the rolling hills of Jones County, Iowa. It’s the county seat and a hotbed for political activity as the vast majority of presidential candidates visit the town at least once while campaigning.

My coworkers and I had all gathered around a single computer screen to watch the presidential inauguration of America’s first Black president, Barack Obama. Most of us had met, or at very least seen him on at least one occasion. He was charismatic, articulate, intelligent and laid back. He easily won over the people of Jones County in 2008 with his message of hope, his promises to repair infrastructure, end the war in Iraq and improve education. 

I remember how we were also beaming with hope on that day. Had the United States finally come to grips with its racist past by electing a Black man? Was Pres. Obama the leader that could help fix our economy, reduce military spending and reform health care?

We watched the peaceful transition of power from Pres. George W. Bush as flags waved and Obama swore to uphold the US Constitution. We watched as Aretha Franklin sang and the Obama children fidgeted in their seats.

The hope that day was palpable. 

There is no such hope in 2021. Instead of preparing for a peaceful transfer of power, Americans are sitting in their homes on the edge of their seats during a world pandemic watching as a group of individuals threatens to disrupt the inauguration of Joe Biden. The threats coming days after a siege on the US Capitol during the certification of electoral votes, making Biden the 46th President of the United States.

The attack on the Capitol by those Pres. Donald Trump supporters that do not want to accept defeat were met not with scores of police and National Guard troops, but a handful of police (compared to other protests), some of whom chose to take selfies with individuals that had made their way into the building. I say made their way in rather than broke in because from the scores of videos I have watched in the past week, it looks like they met little resistance. 

Unfortunately, five people died in in this riot that left legislators scrambling to get out of the chambers and others to cower under desks and in the gallery. Theses armed protestors were seen looting the Capitol building, sitting in offices, swinging from balconies and smearing feces around the building.

By comparison, the George Floyd protest at the Capitol in June 2020 had a much greater police force, particularly on the streets, and the National Guard was on hand. There are plenty of photos to support this, with images of tear gas wafting through the crowd, police in riot gear pushing protesters back, helicopters looming in the sky and troops lined up around the Capitol building.

I read in an AP story that the National Guard and FBI along with additional police officers had been offered prior to the riot. They were declined by Capitol Police. The article states, “Despite plenty of warnings of a possible insurrection and ample resources and time to prepare, the Capitol Police planned only for a free speech demonstration.” One of the reasons they claim to have denied the additional law enforcement is because of the George Floyd protests and the desire to not use US troops against American citizens. 

I’m going to go ahead and translate that sentence. What it is really saying is this group was primarily white, male supporters of Pres. Trump, therefore there would be no need to increase law enforcement. After all, it’s BLM and Antifa causing all the trouble, right?

It is simply just another chapter in the tale of two Americas. The one white males inhabit and the other that is left for the rest of us to navigate. It is the story of white supremacy and white privilege and it really has been this country’s story from its beginning.

Last week, it seemed that hope Obama had been peddling during his first run for president was just a pipe dream. With the election of a known racist, sexist, homophobe in 2016, the hope meter sunk too an all-time low. It was Trump’s presidency–his hate speech, his praise and his cohorting with known racists­–that gave rise to increased hatred, then encouraged, this attack on the Capitol. It should not go unpunished.

But I do not care if the country impeaches Trump, that is simply not enough–a slap on the wrist. I want him in prison along with all of his cronies that enabled him in bringing this once great country to its knees. In fact, I would like to see those indictments start rolling in on Jan. 20 as soon as Biden takes power. Maybe that can help to start healing the giant wound left by this corrupt presidential administration. Godspeed, prosecutors.



Rate this article: 
Average: 1 (1 vote)