On Wednesday, Jan. 6, United States President Donald Trump addressed his supporters and urged them to go to the US Capitol, to push Republicans into voting against certifying the results of the electoral college count which had his opponent, President-elect Joseph Biden, as the winner.
“We’re going to walk down Pennsylvania Ave, and we’re going to [try] to give our Republicans—the weak ones because the strong ones don’t need any of our help—we’re to try and get them the kind of pride and boldness they need to take back our country,” he said.
Soon after, a mob stormed the building, climbed the walls, defaced the offices and put their crassness on display, as they said they were taking back their country.
Five people died from the violence, and this week Democrats at the House of Representatives, along with a handful of Republicans, impeached Mr. Trump just days before the inauguration of his successor.
Then again, those words on Jan. 6 were not the only catalyst to the desecration of American democracy that took place that day. The buildup has been slow and steady. It stretches to as far back as months ago during a particularly bitter campaign made even more polarizing by a raging pandemic. Through a combination of uttered words and social media posts, Mr. Trump has succeeded in convincing at least 75 million Americans to vote for him and, after his defeat, complaining that he had been cheated.
He launched a massive legal campaign to question the results but not a single judge anywhere in the country was convinced of the massive fraud he was alleging. This, too, was a source of his bitterness toward these last days. He went as far as personally calling the Secretary of State of Georgia and telling him, at first nicely and then menacingly, to find him the required number of votes to overturn Biden’s victory there.
Most of the traditional media and, belatedly, social media giants, decided to stop giving him a platform for his lies, but Mr. Trump’s supporters had been sufficiently mobilized. Now the nation is on edge, not necessarily because of the record deaths from the raging pandemic, but because of the threat of terrorism in the coming days.
All this goes to show that a leader’s words are never taken lightly. When they utter something, they cannot later on say they were joking, or exaggerating, or were talking figuratively. People look up to their leader and take their cue from the words coming out of their mouth. Are they talking out of spite, or led by facts, or do they circle back to their own ego? People are inspired or disappointed by what the leader says. They are comforted, angered or saddened. They are moved into action or driven to disbelief.
All of us should listen closely to how our leaders speak. Their words are windows into their minds.