55 Hours Binge-Watching the Never-Before-Seen and the Unimaginable (America, Jan. 4-7): Part II

By Luis Martínez-Fernández

January 16, 2021 5 min read

Jan. 5, c. 11:50 p.m.: Vote-count reports continue streaming in. It has become clear that Raphael Warnock will win the disputed Senate seat. Jon Ossoff, meanwhile, will likely squeeze a victory of his own. TV networks and news agencies are not yet ready, however, to project winners.

And what if Ossoff's victory margin is less than 0.5%? That translates into an automatic recount that can prolong for days, if not weeks, uncertainty about which party will control the Senate.

Click, click. At Fox News, interviewers and interviewees look and sound increasingly somber. It is evident that they have given up hope of keeping the Senate red and have turned their attention to tomorrow, when Congress is scheduled to count the official state elector votes and certify the next president's election.

Sen. Marsha Blackburn from Tennessee justifies a congressional overturn of the results by praising the 1876 political deal that ended Reconstruction and opened the floodgates to Jim Crow and lynching. In her state alone, 233 blacks were lynched between 1877 and 1950.

But tonight, the eyes of the nation are on another state, Georgia, incidentally second only to Mississippi in number of documented lynchings, with 589.

At 12:37, MSNBC and CNN air Warnock's victory speech, much of it a grateful celebration of his parents: his father, a pastor like him, and his 82-year-old mother, whose hands, he tells us, "used to pick somebody else's cotton," and who raised 12 children, of which he was the 11th.

News commentators have repeatedly used the word "historic" to describe Warnock's impending victory. He is about to become Georgia's first black U.S. senator and one of only three Southern blacks elected to that office. The first was Hiram Revels (1827-1901) from Mississippi — like Warnock, a preacher and son of a preacher.

Two other black Georgians are in Warnock's and many other Georgians' minds: Martin Luther King Jr., who had pastored Warnock's Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, and the late Rep. John Lewis, a friend, civil rights giant and member of that congregation.

Warnock ends his speech quoting Psalm 30: "Weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning."

It is now the morning of Jan. 6, Epiphany Day. Trump is scheduled to speak at the so-called Save America rally around 11:00 a.m. One of his opening acts is his lead personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani. "This was the worst election in American history," the former "America's Mayor" says. Later, he says, "Let's have trial by combat."

Fox News is covering the rally. MSNBC and CNN are not. The soon-to-be former president harangues the cheering crowd of several hundred. "Our country will be destroyed," he roars before pointing his followers up Pennsylvania Avenue and saying, "(W)e are going to walk down to the Capitol. ... History is going to be made."

Before Trump is finished speaking, hundreds of his followers march toward Capitol Hill to protest the election certification ceremony presided by Vice President Mike Pence, heretofore Trump's most loyal lieutenant. "I hope Mike is going to do the right thing," Trump had just told the crowd. "(I)f Mike Pence does the right thing, we win the election." Newscasts are reporting that Pence has promised to follow the Constitution.

Click, click. PBS is covering the day's events, with one eye inside the Capitol, another on the building's periphery. House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi gavels the joint session into order and explains the proceedings. First to speak on the side of the count objectors is the Republican House minority whip from Louisiana, Steve Scalise. In June 2017, the National Rifle Association A-plus-rated congressman and three other individuals were shot and wounded while at practice for that year's Congressional Baseball Game.

The story unfolding outside the Capitol is outshining the certification debate, and all news networks are now focused on the protest. A couple-thousand-strong sea of Trump supporters lay siege on the nation's — arguably, the world's — most visible monument to democracy. A veritable human moat threatens to overflow inside the building.

The crowd gets larger, louder and angrier by the minute. Protestors carry a wide assortment of flags: several variations of the American flag, including some with Trump's face and name; several state flags (Arizona's, Maryland's, South Carolina's); scores of Confederate battle flags, yellow "Don't Tread on Me" banners and even a few ensigns of conspiracy-theory group QAnon.

To be continued.

Readers can reach Luis Martinez-Fernandez at [email protected] To find out more about Luis Martinez-Fernandez and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

Photo credit: TaptheForwardAssist

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