Recapping January 5th to 13th: An Insane Week of Politics

Elizabeth Alexander

2021 may have begun only a few days ago, but it’s already shaping up to be quite the dramatic year, no thanks to a long series of political events that shook the nation. From a flip in the Senate to literal riots in a federal building, it’s been a week of ups and downs, and most definitely not something we foresaw when we breathed a sigh of relief and rang in the new year. 

With so much still up in the air in the last few days of the Trump administration, let’s take a look at these events.

The Georgia Senate Election

Once Election Day has drawn to a close, one would think that would be the end of all our voting fears. However, this was not the case in Georgia this year when their two Senate races went to a runoff (due to a state law requiring a 50% threshold needed to win an election) with voting concluding on January 5th. The races were vital for both parties: the Republicans needed only one win to keep their Senate majority, while the Democrats required both victories in order to force a tie (which are then broken by the sitting Vice President – effectively giving the Democrats the majority when Kamala Harris is sworn in on the 21st). 

What’s especially interesting about this election was the enormous push to vote on both ends of the political spectrum, led by activist Stacey 

Abrams. Citizens all across the Peach State waved signs and went on social media to get the word out. While this also occurred during the general elections in November, due to the election’s single-state nature, it was quite noticeable this time around.

The first race to be called was the special election between incumbent Republican Kelly Loeffler and Democrat Raphael Warnock. Loeffler, who was sworn in earlier this year to fill the seat left vacant by a resignation, is a strong supporter of Trump and appealed to Georgia’s plethora of conservatives. Meanwhile, Warnock, a black pastor, was preferred by the state’s large non-white population. Warnock ended up winning the race by roughly 80 thousand votes when they were all added up. Also of note is that when he takes office, Warnock will become the first black Senator from Georgia.

In the regularly-scheduled election, the candidates were incumbent Republican David Perdue and young Democrat Jon Ossoff. This race was closer overall – while the November results of the special election had Warnock topping the polls, Perdue was the original frontrunner in this race. However, with the help of Abrams’ push to vote and Ossoff’s fiery anti-Perdue speeches, the Republican was narrowly defeated by 55 thousand votes. 

The election happened on Tuesday, and as Americans woke up Wednesday morning, the results were probably the first thing they saw on the news. Of course, that wasn’t the only breaking news headline from January 6th, not by a long shot.

The White House Insurrection and What Has Happened Since

Later in the afternoon, a shocking event headline appeared on basically every news station one could think of. Thousands of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol building in Washington DC while both chambers of Congress were in session for the certification of the recent Presidential election. Important leaders inside were promptly evacuated, like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Mike Pence (who had received death threats for allowing the certification to continue), but the other members were told to shelter in place. Pictures from inside the Capitol quickly circulated around social media, showing people armed with guns, zip ties, Confederate flags, and items stolen from various areas of the building. 

DC police officers and National Guardsmen were faced with the task of fending off the rioters, with varying degrees of success. Some deployed tear gas, while others were shown taking pictures with the mob.

Millions of Americans (and even those from around the world) saw the insurrection unfold on live television. A large portion of those watching also took to social media to voice their thoughts, including the sheltering members of Congress. A combination of shock, horror, and anxiety swept over the nation. These icky feelings seem to be continuing to this day.

The mayor of DC issued a curfew that went into effect at 6 PM local time, after which the rioters finally left the Capitol. Once it was declared secure, workers at the building cleaned and sanitized everything to prepare for the third large event of the day: the vote certification.

When Congress was recessed after the rioters broke in, the chambers were in the midst of debating Arizona’s votes. After reconvening at 8 PM local, their prewritten speeches for the day were edited in favor of those condemning the violence. Even those opposing the votes went out of their way to paint the rioters as the villains.

As for the certification itself, things went relatively smoothly, save for the votes from Arizona and Pennsylvania. The chambers debated for two hours on each state, though no objections were passed and Biden was certified at 4 AM after a long night.

With any event of this magnitude, there’s sure to be lots of coverage of its aftermath. Over the course of the next several days, Trump came under massive fire for his role in the insurrection, starting with his infamous Twitter account. 

He continuously used the site while everything was ongoing and called the rioters “very special” in a now-deleted video. Twitter did not take this lightly, tagging the video with a warning that stated how it contained a “risk of [further] violence”. Within a few days, the company flat-out banned his account. This action was later repeated when most social media giants also banned his accounts. 

Speaking of social media, Parler, an app that many on the far-right took to using after the presidential election, went offline on January 10th after more threats of violence emerged. Google was the first to pull the app from its Play Store, citing a lack of “moderation policies” that posed a “public safety threat,” and Apple quickly followed suit.

To cap off the chaotic week, Trump was impeached by the House on the 13th – again. Yes, he became the first president in US history to be impeached twice, following the “Ukraine scandal” from 2019, in which he was acquitted. The House – including ten Republicans, the most bipartisan impeachment in US history – charged him with incitement of insurrection, and the Senate will later vote on whether to remove him from office. While in the short term, that might not seem relatively useful due to Biden’s inauguration on the 20th, a vote to remove also prevents Trump from ever holding the presidential power again, which would effectively crush his hopes of a nonconsecutive reelection in 2024.

At the time of writing, that is the extent of these insane political developments. Whatever happens next will be a mystery, and one can only hope a less crazy future lies ahead.