In the past month of January, the world watched as the American government faced many historical events. Protesters turned to rioters and stormed the nation’s capital creating controversy over former President Donald Trump and the day’s events. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris were officially elected and successfully inaugurated a week after the attack. San Marin, like the rest of the country, is attempting to take in the events and find a way to deal with the increasing divide and struggles of America.
On Jan. 6, Trump held a rally and conveyed to the crowd that the election was stolen, which would further prompt the day’s events.
“After this, we’re going to walk down, and I’ll be there with you,” Trump said. “We are going to walk down to the capital and we are going to cheer on our brave senators, congressmen, and women…because you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength and you have to be strong.”
After Trump gave the previously stated speech, thousands of Trump supporters from the rally marched down Pennsylvania Avenue in pursuit of what Trump requested. Trump did not attend the protest but was instead at the White House where he watched the scene unfold from a television screen. With Trump flags in hand, rioters overpowered the capital police and broke in through every possible entrance of the building. Breaking glass, ruffling through desks, and destroying federal property to take a stand against democracy.
The building was evacuated along with the electoral votes carried in wooden boxes with the senators and congressmen. They were held in a secure place as the rioters continued their destruction. Soon, Biden took the national stage and spoke to the American people.
“At this hour our democracy is under an unprecedented assault unlike anything we’ve ever seen in modern times,” Biden said. “I call on President Trump to go on national television now to fulfill his oath and defend the constitution and demand an end to this siege… the world is watching.”
Eventually, Trump let out only a minute-long video on his Twitter account which later got suspended. Along with a number of other social media accounts, including his Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, and Youtube accounts.
“This was a fraudulent election, but we cannot play into the hands of these people,” Trump said. “We have to have peace. Go home; we love you, you are very special.”
The events that played out at the capitol made it clear how a President’s words can truly affect every American including in the San Marin community. San Marin High school does not have the best reputation for dealing with hot topic political matters on social media. Last November, students at San Marin created Instagram accounts using inappropriate language and using San Marin’s name to support political opinions. Since then, the accounts have been deleted, inactivated, or unused. Although the issue was dealt with last semester, Mike Spinrad, an AP Government teacher, believes it could happen again.
“Probably, because social media is the way that kids communicate,” Spinrad said.
Like former President Trump, generation z turns to social media to share their thoughts and opinions. This can become an issue because students do not have 1st amendment rights. Students will be confronted if they post or say anything against the school, county, and/or state guidelines.
Assistant Principal Michael Casper let out a statement two days after the attack on San Marin students.
“We encourage all students to think and feel how you want while exercising your right to freedom of speech in a safe and thoughtful manner,” Casper said.
Although Trump made a statement, the Capitol police were not able to gain control of the capitol building until later that night. Once the building was secured, congress was let back inside to do the people’s work. As President of the Senate, former Vice President Mike Pence spoke before they started.
“To those who wreaked havoc on the capitol today, you did not win,” Pence said. “Violence never wins. Freedom wins and this is still the people’s house.”
The events of that day worked against the rioters. Many Republican senators who were expected to debate that the election was unconstitutional refused to do so after the violence. Congress worked through the night into the early hours of Jan. 7 and confirmed the election results.
In the aftermath of the riots, resignation from the president was on the top of many minds. The senate waited seven days to give Trump the chance to resign if he wished and Pence a chance to invoke the 25th amendment. Trump made it clear that he would not resign on Jan. 12 in a statement he gave to the media and showing no regret for his recent statement.
“[The impeachment] is a continuation of the greatest witch hunt in the history of politics,” Trump said. “It is ridiculous. It is absolutely ridiculous. [His speech on Jan. 6] has been analyzed and people thought it was totally appropriate.”
Later that day, Pence voiced that he was not in favor of invoking the 25th amendment. The Senate came together again on Jan. 13 to vote on the impeachment of Trump. The House of Representatives voted in favor of the article of impeachment. All of the Democratic seats and ten republican seats voted in favor of impeachment. This made Trump the only President in US history to be impeached twice in at all, let alone in one term.
Through it all, the government showed its strength by continuing with the inauguration on Jan. 20. In most cases, the President will attend the inauguration of their successor. Trump did not attend and was the first to refrain from doing so in over 150 years. However, neither the absence of Trump or their masks could hide the emotion on the attendees faces. Performances from Jenifer Lopez and Lady Gaga lead into the sworn oaths of the President and Vice President. Biden was filled with joy as he delivered his inaugural address.
The oaths were followed by a performance from Amanda Gorman, an African American, 22 year old poet. She wrote and presented her poem The Hill we Climb. She touched many young viewers as the youngest inaugural poet in U.S. history.
Spinrad discusses politics and gives students an opportunity to share their opinion in a safe and thoughtful manner through his class at San Marin. Some students prefer to stay out of the political war, whereas students such as Wesley Fink, a student in Spinrad’s class, have strong opinions.
“I think that a good number of people our age at San Marin are aware of the political situation and have opinions on it,” Fink said. “I surely don’t think enough and everyone should be engaged. I definitely think there is a lot we need to do to make sure everyone is politically aware.”
After the events last semester, San Marin is more prepared to deal with political situations between students. Spinrad has had little to no conflict with discussions in his class, but Fink still sees the prejudice at San Marin.
“There are some San Marin students that definitely have a bias against people who have a different political opinion not because of any fault of their own, but more because of the national climate and the divisive nature that exists in our country,” Fink said.
San Marin has been taking steps to help students discuss and understand each other. In some classes students are allowed to have open discussions about current politics. San Marin has also created an equity group to take steps toward restorative justice. Yet, not every student is a part of a club, group, or class that has these discussions.
“San Marin has those current successes, but we could do a bit more in ensuring that everyone has a space to discuss ideas.” Fink said.
However, it seems both the staff and students are hopeful and looking towards the future. The San Marin community continues to do their part to create the best opportunities for the upcoming generation of American leaders.