This highway leads to the shadowy tip of reality: you’re on a through route to the land of the different, the bizarre, and the unexplainable…Go as far as you like on this road. Its limits are only those of mind itself. Ladies and Gentlemen, you’re entering the wondrous dimension of imagination…Next stop The Twilight Zone. 

Could Rod Serling have imagined what has transpired during this last week? Last Wednesday, I listened to the assault on the Capitol as I wrote my column. Today, I listen to the House of Representatives debating impeachment against President Trump. On Wednesday, the Inauguration is scheduled to take place. Notice, I said scheduled. Let us hope it takes place as planned.

The Jan. 6 riot brings forth many questions. 

What role did members of the House of Representatives play in encouraging the people to come to Washington, D.C.? Let us consider Oklahoma’s congressional delegation. Six of the seven planned to vote for an “audit” of the election results although the six knew Biden had won. They knew the election had not been stolen, but none of them stated that obvious conclusion to Oklahoma Trump supporters. 

Were Trump’s supporters planning to take over the Capitol when they came to Washington or did Trump’s remarks encourage them? According to the New York Times, in his approximately 70-minute speech to the crowd, Trump called the election outcome “this egregious assault on our democracy.” He said his supporters should “walk down to the Capitol.” Trump’s lawyer Rudolph Giuliani (we remember him from the Philadelphia Four Seasons Landscaping Warehouse press conference) spoke before Trump and called for “trial by combat” against the Democrats to win the election. 

What caused Giuliani to have made such a terrible suggestion? He encouraged violence as a way to “win the election.” 

What effect did Donald Trump Jr.’s comments have? “We’re coming for you,” he said in speaking to the crowd about members of Congress who did not back these efforts.

Did thousands of people plan to come to Washington and damage the Capitol? Did they plan to break into offices and attack the overwhelmed Capitol officers trying to stop the attack? 

Let us consider the man from Granette, Arkansas, a small town in Benton County with Bentonville being the Walmart headquarters.  Did he travel to Washington D.C. with the plan of breaking into Nancy Pelosi’s office, putting his feet up on her desk and taking a piece of her mail after leaving her a quarter? 

He is now in the Fayetteville jail located a few blocks from daughter Cara’s house. He is contemplating a federal prison sentence. 

Then we have Brian Hobbs, the mayor from Newkirk, Oklahoma. Newkirk is the county seat of Kay County located on the Kansas border. In the stories about his travel to Washington D.C., he said he went to support Trump.  What was he thinking when he told a New York Times reporter, “It could have been a lot worse. We had enough people, we could have tore that building down brick by brick”? 

When his comments became public in a front page New York Times story, he said he never went into the building. He claimed his comment was taken out of context – that the mob had exhibited restraint although they could have “tore that building down.” 

What about the Olympic swimmer from the University of Southern California who had won a gold medal? What caused him to go to Washington D.C.? 

What about the person who hit the policeman in the head with a fire extinguisher – the policeman eventually dying from the wound. Did this person think about the possibility of murder when he made the trip to the nation’s capital?

The group that walked to the Capitol at Trump’s urging became a mob. They believed him. They believed the election results were a fraud. They believed the election could be overturned.

They became a violent, destructive mob. 

If the man who took a picture of himself with his feet on Nancy Pelosi’s desk and then took off his shirt to take another picture had been in Gravette, would he have ever thought of breaking into a neighbor’s home, going through the neighbor’s belongings and taking items from the house? Probably not. 

He would have realized he would be committing a crime.

What made it seem sensible to attempt to take over the Capitol? 

These people obviously had not been keeping up with the numerous court cases filed and recounts done since the election. They would have realized Trump lost. The silence of Congressional Republicans about the outcome after the election gave encouragement to them. Between Trump’s false claims and the Republicans’ denials, these people became a mob believing Trump and the country had been cheated.

If the Republicans in Congress had spoken out, what a difference there might have been in the reaction of Oklahomans. Why did not Sen. Lankford and Representatives Cole, Lucas, Mullin, Hern and Bice simply state the obvious fact that Biden had won when it became apparent? What if that had happened in every state?

In his remarks in the late hours of Jan. 6, Sen. George Romney said, “The best way we can show respect for the voters who are upset is to tell them the truth.”  

The country would not be in the state it is today if that had happened after the election. The truth would have released the Republicans from Trump’s hostage. 

Now, the House has impeached Trump for the second time. Ten Republicans voted with the Democrats. In the last few days, political rumors have Sen. McConnell wanting the Senate to vote to convict Trump so he will be out of the Republican picture. For the Senate, the trial will not happen until after the Inauguration.

In Wednesday’s Oklahoman, Rep. Tom Cole said impeaching Trump in the last days of his administration is not in the nation’s best interest. The other four Oklahoma Representatives voted against the impeachment also. 

If they had displayed courage and spoken the truth after the election, the riot might not have taken place.  Our country needs this process to continue in a civil way with both parties contributing to that civility. We can hope the Oklahoma delegation will rise to that level. 

In this dark time of The Twilight Zone, our country has been in the land of the different, the bizarre, and the unexplainable. No one could have imagined every event that has taken place in the last week. 

Let us hope the Biden administration and the members of Congress can display courage, truth and civility for our country’s healing.   

Julie Couch is a longtime Stillwater resident.

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