I remember Jan. 6, 2021, as one of those “time stop” moments.
It’s how my parents described scary events to me as a child: ones that you can recall exactly where you were and what you were doing. My mom’s main example was the Challenger Space Shuttle disaster — she was watching it on TV in class.
Until I woke up exactly one year ago, I hadn’t had a “time stop” moment. I hadn’t experienced the fear that allows you to remember everything. The insurrection at the nation’s capital on Jan. 6, 2021, changed that.
I was living alone at the time, my roommate was still visiting family for the holidays and I had come back to IU early. I didn’t have any friends in town. I remember sitting on my apartment floor crying as my neighbors texted each other frantically — I became worried about my own safety.
Growing up in Indiana and being politically left-leaning, I haven’t always felt the most welcome. However, the Biden administration made me feel a little more at ease. Sure, things still wouldn’t be perfect, but maybe I wouldn’t be gasping for air for the next four years.
However, the events of 2021 have led me to one conclusion: American democracy is not on a path to rebuild. This isn’t a slam on Biden or a stab at the previous administration. It’s a realization that the United States is anything but united.
From the insurrection to differing stances between political parties, our divided nation doesn’t get anything done for its citizens, regardless of party.
The COVID-19 pandemic is a perfect example. In 2021, President Biden announced a nationwide vaccine mandate to ensure safer conditions for employees— only for state governors and federal judges to block it. Instead of being a necessary tool to slow the spread of the virus and reduce the pandemic death toll, the vaccine itself has become a political pawn.
In Texas, unconstitutional laws banning abortion are proposed, and then flagged down causing outrage and relief, depending on the citizen’s stance. Similarly, gun control laws vary from state to state with Indiana being one of the most lenient, allowing open carry of a handgun with proper permit.
These “hot button” issues are uncomfortable to discuss. But they shouldn’t be. Vaccines are necessary to stop a pandemic. Abortion laws shouldn’t attempt to overturn Roe v. Wade and something as dangerous as gun control should be a nationwide ruling — not left up to each state.
This is how I feel. But it doesn’t change anything, because for Americans of either party to feel a sense of togetherness, we need to start with compromise.
As the Omicron variant surges through the nation and cases continue to rise with no end in sight, it’s clear that Americans value self over sacrifice. In 2019, CNN reported that Americans only hypothetically want compromise in politics, however, when it boils down to it we all only care about our own opinions.
In relation to the insurrection one year ago, I’m no better. In Indiana, I am more than 600 miles away from the nation’s capital, and yet I was worried about my own safety instead of the officials being attacked.
With the current division, I don’t see our nation as free from another attempted coup within the next four years. Without compromise, those "time stop" moments may become a lot more common.