Opinion: A 'sad day for Republicans'

AP File Photo/John Minchillo / Protesters loyal to President Donald Trump riot outside the Capitol, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington, D.C.

To hear some Democrats talk, every Republican - from then-President Donald Trump to the most minor elected official - is responsible for what occurred at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

On that day, thousands of people came to protest the certification of the presidential election for former Vice President Joe Biden. Because of last-minute changes in the allowance of absentee ballots, because of various state counting glitches and pauses, because state election laws were changed late in the campaign, and because the president kept telling them so, they believed the election had been stolen.

While in Washington, after listening to a 70-minute speech by Trump, many of his supporters descended on the Capitol, breaching it, vandalizing it, threatening congressional members and stopping certification proceedings.

News outlets vary as to how many protesters were in Washington, D.C., that day, from 10,000 (The Associated Press) to 100,000 (Newsweek), and there doesn't seem to be a definitive number on how many entered the Capitol.

But seven people eventually died, and more than 700 were arrested. It was an appalling affront to all those who love this country. Many were given misdemeanor sentences, some prison terms. Many have yet to have their day in court.

In our view, Trump's words gave ammunition to his supporters' anger even though he likely never imagined the protesters would do what they did. And we believe he also has culpability for not reaching out through every medium possible to urge them to stop - immediately. Whether they would have heeded him will never be known, but he would have been on record as trying.

A year out from that event, Democrats have wanted to talk about nothing else. They intend to continue talking about it throughout the year, tar every Republican with it, and use it as the sole reason to re-elect them this fall.

For example, Dr. Jason Martin, a Democratic candidate for governor, attempted to tie Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee to what happened Jan. 6.

In a recent fundraising email that discussed the events of a year ago, he said, "Politicians of Bill Lee's ilk spread daily lies about our elections and our government to keep their supporters engaged and enraged, exposing Americans to death threats and violence."

Their rhetoric is so heightened that The New York Times published this false statement in its newsletter Thursday: "The Jan. 6 attack was part of a larger anti-democracy movement in the U.S. ... which is closely aligned with the Republican Party ... The movement is trying to use existing democratic laws ... to unravel democracy."

Millions of Republicans in the United States were sickened, as we were, at what happened a year ago. And they subscribe neither to the violence, the lies, nor anything to do with any movement that would threaten this country.

Going forward, they, like us, wish to see the perpetrators punished, see any pre-Jan. 6 plans exposed and see us return to a more unified country.

We were curious what other local Republicans thought a year out. We sent messages seeking a brief response to U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann's press liaison, to several state representatives, to the county mayor candidates, to several county commissioners and to several county commission candidates.

We heard from some, including two of the county mayoral candidates and a spokeswoman for the third.

"There is simply no excuse for the physical attacks on Capitol Hill Police officers or for the damage that was done to the U.S. Capitol, the beacon of freedom around the world since the Civil War," Weston Wamp said. "January 6th, 2021, was not a proud day for America."

"I see it as a friendly protest that unexpectedly went violent," said County Commission Chairwoman Sabrena Smedley. "I know various people that were there, and they are good people that are not violent people at all."

Matt Hullander and his wife and daughter have COVID-19, according to his spokeswoman, and Hullander "was off the grid at least for this week and unable to respond."

Current District 8 Hamilton County Commissioner Tim Boyd, who is not seeking re-election, and District 8 candidate Tucker McClendon, who is currently a District 8 Hamilton County Board of Education member, also sent replies.

"I hold Trump responsible for the ... insurrection due to his hostile rhetoric prior to and on January 6, 2021," Boyd said. "Spreading misinformation about the election results, asking election officials to look for a specific number of votes in his favor, and the fact he did not insist the mob 'stand down' ... It was a very sad day for Republicans and followers of Trump."

"What happened a year ago was a dark moment for Republicans and President Trump," McClendon said, "but the party and the country need to move forward, not backward. Continually reliving the past helps no one but the radical left of the Democratic Party."

District 10 Hamilton County Commission candidate Dean Moorhouse also weighed in.

"In my view," he said, "those who entered the Capitol were wrong in doing so. From video footage on the news, an overwhelming number were there for [a] peaceful protest ... It was not an armed takeover, as described by President Biden."

Jan. 6, 2021, was a horrific, reprehensible day, but we don't believe most Americans blame all Republicans for what happened. We do believe most people want a less bitter, less partisan future. Let's focus on that.