Statement on the Insurrection at the US Capitol

APSA issued an updated and expanded statement on January 11, 2021. Read the expanded statement here.   

Yesterday, a mob incited by the President of the United States overran the US Capitol in a violent insurrection. Those who forcibly entered the Capitol building and its offices struck at the heart of democratic principles in the United States, disrupting lawmaking and the peaceful transition of power that has served as a centerpiece of American democracy. By interrupting a largely ceremonial action on the false promise of overturning the results of a free and fair election, this mob led to the needless death and injury of Americans and posed an imminent threat to US lawmakers, their staffs, and the staff of the US Capitol building.

We are shocked, dismayed and disgusted at the events on Capitol Hill. As scholars of government and politics, we condemn President Trump and legislators who have continuously endorsed and disseminated falsehoods and misinformation, and who have worked to overturn the results of the Presidential election. The President has sown doubt and mistrust in the democratic process and the electoral process in the United States. Democracy is resilient but it is also fragile, and it is undermined by the actions of those elected legislators who repeat and amplify specious claims of electoral fraud.

Now the hard work of rebuilding our institutions and our democratic norms must start. We applaud the work of the House and Senate in completing their constitutional duties to certify the election results.  The efforts to begin reconciliation yesterday after order was restored are reflective of what public officials need to be doing to help rebuild confidence in our democratic institutions, including agreement by both sides to do better and work together to dismantle the systems and structures that lead to the harm. Political scientists stand ready to support the work of our elected officials to chart a path forward.

Read APSA statements.

26 Comments

  1. Very glad to see this. There needs to be more political science work on the
    structural weaknesses of our institutions and the political parties and shared
    values and traditions that are necessary to their successful functioning.

    • Where is the demand for accountability? You wouldn’t try to peddle that tired old crap about “forgiveness brings healing,” would you? There is NO healing without accountability—but there’s plenty of festering.

  2. Sadly, no. APSA should not be both-sidesing a Republican-led attempt to overturn a democratic election, nor calling for reconciliation. It should be calling for accountability.

    • This is a horrendous statement. Both sides? Reconciliation? Not a word about white supremacy? Whom do you represent?

    • Excellent comparison. The historians remember that racism was central to what happened this week. Didn’t the president’s address at our 2020 conference state that political science needs to do a better job on race?

  3. I don’t see how you can “both sides” this. The Democratic Party participated in an election, we didn’t try to overthrow a duly elected government.

  4. “…we condemn President Trump and legislators..”

    Not “legislators” but “REPUBLICAN legislators”…and also the mob which carried out these acts. The hate groups which organized the insurrection. The media like NewsMax and OAN and QAnon networks which propagated the misinfo. And the security lapses which facilitated the destruction.

    (Also,more pedantically, “Democracy is resilient but it is also fragile”. Is it one or the other?)

  5. Both-siding this is not unifying.

    This was a white supremacist insurrection leading to 5 deaths, multiple police injuries, and occupation of one of the branches of government and terrorizing of legislators.

    Among other things, they erected gallows and screamed for the lynching of the vice president of the United States while they were inside the Capitol Building they stormed. Bombs and other weapons were found. The zip cuffs carried by commando-dressed domestic terrorists are indication of intention to take hostages.

    There is evidence of collusion with law enforcement officials and, at the very least, documented participation by members of law enforcement and former military.

    Republican officials encouraged the mob for months through their rhetoric, funding, and false claims of election fraud. They lost in court dozens of times and many continued to refuse to accept the rulings of the judicial branch of government in favor of inflammatory rhetoric. Any remorse is only regarding their own reputations.

    Do not both-side fascism and domestic terrorism.

  6. Who wrote this?
    How could they possibly find it reasonable to suggest that “both sides” should do better.
    The only “two sides” here are the side of law and democracy and the side of fascism and barbarism
    Which side is APSA on?

  7. Weak, weak both-sidesism. We all know who incited and set up this insurrection and who did not. We all know who stated true facts about the election and who did now. This whole thing was built on a lie fostered for MONTHS, and one side has clinged for all. And we know what members of Congress STILL insisted on this deadly lie AFTER a mob stormed the seat of the US government to overturn democracy. And that included plans to take hostages and execute the Vice President of the United States.

    Seriously? No. Just no. One side decided it was good policy to abandon democracy and facts. They lost over 60 times in court of it. They lost the Senate because of it. At least 5 people lost their lives because of it. No more both sides. It’s that simple. No whitewashing of what happened, or it will happen again, and that time they will have learned that they can get away with it. The US just got a hair away from a legislator massacre in the Capitol.

    It does not require both-sidesism to search a productive way forward.

  8. What exactly are the things that Democrats did to cause the insurrection? If you’re going to blame both sides you can at least lay out with your powerful intellects what precisely it was that Democrats could’ve done better to avoid armed gangs taking over the capital and five people dying.

  9. I’ll be Reviewer 2 on this:

    Was this written by the Lincoln Project? “Reconciliation”….”agreement by both sides to do better and work together”??

    Submission requires major revision or should be rejected. I recommend author(s) do more research and theoretical analysis on the facts of the situation and their implications, and then build their argument on that basis with specific claims regarding the role of political actors, institutions and movements rather than reproducing lazy tired tropes that detract from our grasp of the politics of the moment, rather than seeking to avoid saying anything controversial (and true) for fear of offending.

  10. “Both sides” did not participate in the extensive misinformation about the election or the riot itself. But both sides HAVE done much to undermine trust in the governing process to the point where people are willing to believe anything and take any action they think is necessary to disrupt or override it. As with many different types of lawlessness (international terror, rioting, etc.) you can hold perpetators accountable AND seek long-term solutions to prevent it.

  11. after reading these and other responses, and a lot of reflection, I want to clarify my statement of “great comment.” I did not mean, and do not want, to endorse both-sides-ism; to the extent that the APSA statement does that, i apologize and retract my comment. What I was trying tom comment on, instead, was what I focused on in the statement –the phrase “systems and structures that lead to the harm.” I do think both, or all, sides have shared though not equal responsibility for structures of inequality and systems of injustice that lead to great harm. That is what i meant, and I withdraw with considerable chagrin any hint of agreeing that both sides are equally responsible for violent treason.

  12. These types of statements are largely symbolic, I understand that. Nevertheless it extremely disappointing to read such a poorly framed response to a national crisis. I do not understand why APSA did not call attention to the excellent quantitative and qualitative research and public facing scholarship by political scientists who have sought for years to explain the institutional, socio-economic, political and cultural variables that underpin the ascent of Trump and the dangers his cabal poses to democracy. Plentiful too is the scholarship that has analyzed persistent challenges to those structures, policies, organizations, and behaviors that made Trump’s ascent possible. If the work of political scientists does not become part of a national conversation over the causes of Wednesday’s debacle, I doubt seriously that we will fix our broken country.

    • Agreed. It is self-defeating that there is no mention of all of the recent really high quality scholarship relevant to understanding the dangerous transformation occurring in our society. Most of the research generated by political scientists continues to be inconsequential to voters, policy making or the political decisions of the elite. It feels like a collective waste of time, coming in right behind playing video games. When political scientists teach and do research, it is difficult to find the time to connect to the network of practitioners who might benefit from research findings. When working as a practitioner, it is difficult to find the time to keep up with the scholarship. What structures could we put into place to bridge these divides? I have participated in a small research network of scholars and practitioners that I believe has been beneficial to both groups. A friend who works at an organization- Catalyst- hires PhDs to conduct research on issues of gender equity in the workplace. Corporations pay to become members who then benefit from the expertise of the researchers. How might we reimagine something similar to connect scholars to policy makers at state and federal agencies? Rutgers CAWP seems to do a really good job of amplifying and projecting research in a way that matters. How do they do that?
      Scholars and administrators leading APSA are overworked like the rest of us. We need to establish perhaps grant funded full time positions to do a better job at creating structures and networks to make political science relevant. I do not think that it can be accomplished as an ‘add on’ to the schedule of already overworked scholars.

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