'This is my own country. How could this be?    

AP Photo/Patrick SemanskyPreparations for President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration take place in front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. — the scene of last week's riot by supporters of President Trump.

 

Sedition, treason, abomination ... disheartening, discouraging — and just plain sad.

Those are some of the words local political observers and elected officials — both Republicans and Democrats — have used to describe what happened last week in Washington, D.C.

After a rally led by President Trump, a mob of thousands of Trump supporters marched to the Capitol and forced their way into the building. The rush on the seat of government happened last Wednesday as Congress met to confirm Electoral College votes that would make the presidency of Joe Biden official.

Local observers have decried the violent disruption of the political proceedings and Trump's role in the chaos. Lawmakers and their staffs had to barricade doors and cower in closets and offices as the mob took over the House and Senate chambers and offices. One woman was shot and later died. The deaths of three other people have been attributed to the riot.

Richard Padova, a politics professor at Northern Essex Community College, said he was "shocked and saddened" by what he saw.

 

"When I was looking at the coverage, it looked like a coup in some Latin American country," he said, "but there's the Capitol dome in the background. This is my own country. How could this be?"

 

Those sentiments were echoed by others from the Merrimack Valley and Southern New Hampshire.

'This is unacceptable'

Fred Doucette, a Republican state legislator who represents Salem, New Hampshire, said he's given his political heart and soul to Trump over the years, but that last week the president went too far.

 

"Nobody can claim they are bigger supporter of Trump than me," Doucette said. "But what happened was disheartening and discouraging. It's not who we are."

Doucette called out Trump for using inflammatory rhetoric to incite the crowd to violence — words that came at a sensitive time given last week's election runoff losses by two Republican U.S. senators to Democratic challengers in Georgia.

"The president could have worded his address to that group a little differently under the circumstances," Doucette said.

After the rioters took control of the Capitol building, Trump should have taken control of the mob and convinced it to back off, Doucette said.

"He's the law-and-order president," Doucette said. "He should have gone on TV live to address the nation and say, 'This is unacceptable.'

"We are a beacon for the world and that light is dimmed,'' he said. "For that to happen in our Capitol, it's unacceptable. We are a country of laws. ... (The riot) was an abomination."

'Unfit to be president'

Dante Scala, a political science professor at the University of New Hampshire, called for national political leaders to force Trump out of the presidency.

"He is a clear and present and immediate danger to the country," Scala said. "That's why I think he should be removed."

Scala cautioned there is no telling what trouble Trump could create before President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris are sworn in Jan. 20.

"What we saw ... was a person who sits in the highest office in the country inciting people to behave as a mob and to disrupt another branch of the national government," Scala said. "That's Trump's legacy."

Lawrence Mayor Daniel Rivera, a Democrat, called the incident an "insurrection that the president incited at our nation's capitol," adding that it was "sedition, plain and simple."

Rivera said Trump is "unfit to be president."

Banana republic?

Mary McHugh, a political science professor at Merrimack College, said the scene at the Capitol was "bewildering, shocking and disgraceful."

As an academic, McHugh has studied the institutions of American government. She called the rioters' forced entry into the Capitol "a violation of the people's house."

 

Janet Breslin-Smith, a Salem, New Hampshire, resident whose husband, James, served as ambassador to Saudi Arabia under the Obama Administration, said she had a unique perspective on what some were calling an attempted coup.

"I lived in Chile in 1973 when there was a military coup," said Breslin-Smith. "I remember watching how the situation deteriorated in that nation."

Although the overthrow of Chile's government was military in nature, it happened amid hyperinflation, which made the cost of everything go up daily and caused life to be very unsettling — similar to what is happening in the United States with the pandemic.

"A mini-coup was crushed, months went by and all of a sudden there was a military coup and a dictatorship that lasted for 10 years," Breslin-Smith said.

She saw another dictatorship play out in Saudi Arabia, where she and her husband was stationed from 2009 to 2013.

"In that country, if the king said, 'I want to do this,' then that's what happens," she said, noting that Trump, the head of a private corporation for most of his life, ran his business the same way.

Fortunately for the United States, she said, the framers of the Constitution built a system that "protects us from tyranny."

 

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