The U.S. Capitol is the cathedral of government in the United States.

Since 1793, it has been where the laws that shape our nation were baptized. Where treaties were blessed. Where solemn acts of war were confirmed. While we separate our churches from the state, the Capitol with its awe-inspiring edifice, marble statuary and soaring ceilings feels somehow reverential.

On Wednesday, this hallowed space was desecrated.

In a scene that called to mind a South American coup, a rally in support of President Trump boiled down the streets of Washington and into the Capitol, where senators and representatives were certifying the votes of the Electoral College that made Joe Biden the next president.

The mob did it with force. They pulled down the Stars and Stripes and replaced it with a Trump flag. Some members of the mob were carrying Confederate flags. They occupied the Capitol in a way D.C. has not been occupied since the War of 1812.

How did we get here? By ignoring the warning signs.

In recent years, political factions have become almost tribal, placing party above duty to country. It has grown like cancer, with escalating effects of animosity and violence, each side hardening its position.

It has not happened in a vacuum. This is not an invisible virus that spread without our knowing how the exposure occurred. This has spread on Twitter and on television. When Trump released a video to address the violence, he told the rioters to “go home in peace” on one hand but stoked flames about a “fraudulent” election and “evil” opposition with the other.

And we cannot say it happened elsewhere. It has been aided everywhere that someone in power denied truth for politics.

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In Pennsylvania, the uproar in Harrisburg on Tuesday that prevented Jim Brewster from being sworn in to his third term representing the 45th Senate District is part of the same thing. So is the opposition of eight members of the congressional delegation from Pennsylvania, including Reps. Mike Kelly, Guy Reschenthaler, John Joyce and Glenn Thompson, to the certification of the electoral votes.

The last Republican president, George W. Bush, condemned the way this has happened: “I am appalled by the reckless behavior of some political leaders since the election and by the lack of respect shown today for our institutions, our traditions, and our law enforcement.”

Division and flirting with violence have been parts of this presidency since its first campaign, and that tendency has only escalated. We have been getting closer since pipe bombs were sent to legislators and journalists in 2018. We were knocking on this door when a plot to kidnap the Democratic governor of Michigan was uncovered in October and that state’s capital was also stormed last year.

The question now: How do we get back? Can we get back?

”This is not dissent. This is disorder. This is chaos. It borders on sedition and it must end now,” President-elect Joe Biden said.

He is right. This cannot happen every time someone disagrees with the outcome of an election. The peaceful transfer of power is the soul of our democracy.

The assault Wednesday on the Capitol was an assault on the democratic process. Without that process, we are no longer the nation that generations of soldiers fought to uphold.

{p class=”krtHeadline” style=”text-align: right;”}— The Tribune-Review (TNS)

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