The day American democracy showed how fragile it had become

Cross Currents: A column by Bill Christopher
Special to Colorado Community Media
Posted 1/14/21

January 6, 2021 became a historic and a most despicable day in Washington D.C. Thanks to the President of the United States, a sizeable protest made up of Trump supporters around the U.S. Capitol …

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The day American democracy showed how fragile it had become


January 6, 2021 became a historic and a most despicable day in Washington D.C. Thanks to the President of the United States, a sizeable protest made up of Trump supporters around the U.S. Capitol Building quickly turned into a riot and mob scene which got out of control.

The angry crowd easily overwhelmed Capitol police and stormed both the House of Representatives and the Senate. Windows were broken; protesters got on the floor of the Senate, broke into the Speaker of the House’s office and disrupted the Congressional proceedings on accepting the Presidential electoral votes from each state. A woman was shot who later died and police were injured. Members of Congress had to be escorted by Capitol security personnel to safe places. The world watched in shock and disbelief as did American citizens. Were we on the verge of anarchy? Was this scene in Venezuela, some African country capital or the United States?

President Trump’s action is despicable

This display of directly attacking American democracy is one of the lowest, darkest days in American history. Our American heritage, democratic beliefs and principles and our honored procedures of governmental process all came under attack.

I could not believe my eyes watching the riot unfold. It clearly was not a proud day for American democracy. Our democracy has never been more fragile than on January 6.

Just think at the time this happened, we have to survive two more weeks of a narcissist, self-centered President who only cares about his ill-fated re-election. In a taped video statement supposedly to quell the riot, he simply poured more fuel on the fire whining about how the election results were stolen from him while telling them to go home. Later he told the crowd how proud he was of them as “patriots.”

This whole disgusting incident rests squarely on President Trump’s shoulders. He encouraged the march; he whined about how the election had been stolen from him; he stirred up the crowd which burst through an unprepared Capitol police force. The unruly mob caused physical damage, but much more important was their act of violating the sanctity of the Capitol and the Congressional Houses being disrupted. This act is a stain upon our character as a democracy and will long be remembered.

A lot of questions with few answers

What ramifications will all of this have? Already there is talk among the President’s Cabinet of exercising the 25th Amendment where power is transferred to the Vice President. Members of the Republican Party must look themselves in the mirror and recount all the times they should have “checked” Mr. Trump in his intentions, actions and conduct.

Furthermore, it begs the question of what will be the future of the Republican Party with or without the influence of Donald Trump. The next two weeks (from when I am writing this column) could well be very strained within our federal government. To say these are “trying times”, is putting it mildly.

Westminster Water Warriors sue

The Westminster Citizens for Responsible Government aka Westminster Water Warriors has filed a lawsuit in Adams County District Court against Westminster City Clerk Michelle Parker in her official capacity regarding her actions and conclusion of insufficiency on the petitions seeking a recall election on Mayor Atchison and City Council members Anita Seitz, Katheryn Skulley and Jon Voelz.

Fundamentally, the lawsuit is asking the court to hold a hearing and conclude that the City Clerk’s actions unconstitutionally infringed upon the plaintiffs First and Fourteenth Amendment rights and, as appropriate, include petition signatures based on appropriate Constitutional standards.

The basis for the lawsuit

If the court were to agree with the plaintiffs, it is assumed that there would be more than enough valid signatures to force the recall election involving all four of the named elected officials.

It is interesting to note that the plaintiffs recite the City Clerk using “hyper-technical and picayune standards” in rejecting numerous signatures and that she failed to use the “substantial compliance test” required by the State of Colorado and adopted by the Colorado State Supreme Court.

This test has three components: First is the extent of noncompliance, second is the purpose of the applicable provision and whether that purpose is substantially achieved despite the alleged noncompliance and finally whether there was a good faith effort to comply or whether compliance is based on a conscious decision to mislead the electorate.

It will be interesting to see if the Judge wishes to delve into the details of petition insufficiency. I did think the attorney for the citizens group struck a nerve with the reference to the City Clerk using “hyper-technical and picayune standards” - plus noting that the City of Westminster has not adopted the “substantial compliance test.” It will be interesting to see how this plays out plus the time line on when a recall election could be called if the citizens group is successful in court.

“I just want to find 11,780 votes”

It was a straight forward call from one elected official to another. It had been the 18th attempted call from the White House. The caller simply wanted the person on the other end of the call to carry out a fraudulent act and change the outcome of the Presidential election in the state of Georgia. Pretty simple, right?

First of all, I want to say that, in my opinion, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger is a hero. His conduct was what we expect of our elected officials. He upheld the law, relied on facts, told the truth and demonstrated true integrity in this whole situation.

Even though he is a Republican, he stood his ground under considerable pressure with a pathetic influence-peddler who told him, “...all I want to do is this; I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have. Because we won the state.”

President Trump hit a new all-time low. For whatever good he may have done over the past four years, the last eleven weeks after his Presidential defeat through January 20 will leave a lasting huge repulsive stain on his legacy. Goodbye President Trump.

The call that could lead to federal prison

But, wait a minute: Mr. Trump appears to be in REALLY hot water with this antic.

According to the New York Times, “...under Title 52, Section 20511 of the U.S. Code, anyone who knowingly and willfully deprives, defrauds or attempts to deprive or defraud the residents of a state of a fair and impartially conducted election process for federal office can be punished by up to five years in prison.”

From my perspective, the one-hour taped telephone call with Raffensperger “...looks like a duck, walks like a duck so it must be a duck!”

Two Democratic members of the U.S. House have asked the F.B.I. Director Christopher Wray to open a criminal probe. In Atlanta, the Fulton County district attorney has expressed openness to bringing a case. The D.A. said, “Anyone who commits a felony violation of Georgia law in my jurisdiction will be held accountable.”

However, forget any attempt by the U.S. House of Representatives at another run for impeachment. We will see who has the “manhood” to take on the President of the United States after he has exited the White House.

Bill Christopher is a former Westminster city manager and RTD board member. His opinions are not necessarily those of Colorado Community Media. You can contact him at


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