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What If? Reimagining the Capitol Protest

Everyone is distancing, denouncing, and determined to assign blame, but what if ...

Listening to the chattering class and its copious line-up of talking heads, one wonders if the intelligentsia in America has lost its ability to think. Is there anyone out there in TV land with an original thought? This elite group of select individuals represents the political vanguard and is brought onto the airwaves to enlighten and inform. Instead, they appear to be wasting the opportunity in favor of the obvious.

“Down with Violence”

Condemning violence is not a novel concept. Who among us is waiting with bated breath to stand up in favor of bloodshed? Signaling our virtue by denouncing the actions of protesters who stormed the U.S. Capitol in no way adds to an intelligent discussion in the aftermath of such a historic event. We need to be asking critical questions like why this happened and what could have been done to prevent it. What if we took the time to rethink the events of Wednesday, January 6, that led to mayhem and the loss of innocent life?

For example, it has been an almost nauseating mantra that the Capitol building is “the people’s house.” Indeed. Watching the footage of police putting up barricades around this famous edifice, one wonders what might have happened if the people weren’t prohibited but rather encouraged to visit “their house.”

The March to Save America was in the works for weeks. It was not a surprise. Everyone in the District of Columbia knew it was coming. What if these people weren’t barred from this seat of the Republic and instead urged to go to the Capitol building and were invited in to peacefully walk through the Rotunda as many have done when prominent Americans lie in state?

It is possible – perhaps even likely – these patriots who came from all over the country would have quietly gotten in line, submitted to metal detectors, removed their hats and bandanas, and walked in awe through this historic building with reverence.

What if someone had suggested that during President Trump’s speech on the Ellipse, people were encouraged to put their names into a lottery to be afforded the opportunity to sit in the gallery and watch the proceedings à la Mr. Smith Goes to Washington? They would have to agree to be civil and well-mannered or risk being removed immediately from the gallery. Again, it is entirely possible that if these folks were invited inside instead of being barred from the gates, thousands would have jumped at the chance to watch the proceedings.

Sometimes creative thinking is more effective than barricades and pushing furniture against the doors. Actions such as these invariably cause an irresistible force to butt up against an immovable object – and that never ends well, does it? The “people’s house” is not merely for folks who wear neckties and dresses. It is also for those who come appointed with cowboy hats and boots. Is it too strange a concept to consider inviting these Americans to peacefully enter their own house instead of bolting the doors and setting up a blockade?

Thinking things through differently – instead of parroting the obvious – could provide innovative ways to approach similar situations in the future in order to avoid repeating catastrophes of the past. Yes, blood was shed in the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, January 6, but do we have enough critical thinking left to imagine ways where what happened could have been circumvented? If you listen to the talking heads, the answer appears to be no, and that, my friends, is the real tragedy here.

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Read more from Leesa K. Donner.

Read More From Leesa K. Donner

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