Students Give Opinions on Capitol Riots, President Biden, and Former President Trump

Alisha Nazar and Emma Leibowitz

Scrolling through your Instagram feed, you notice a common theme of political opinions on your peers’ stories. Topics including the Jan. 6 Washington, D.C. riots at the Capitol, differing views over President elect Joe Biden and President Donald Trump, and mentions of the Black Lives Matter movement blur together before your eyes. You see your friends and fellow students bashing the views of the opposing political party and you groan, realizing that these unpredictable events may never end.

At Miramonte, students seem to fall on a broad spectrum of political ideologies, ranging from radically liberal to deeply conservative. According to an Instagram poll of 114 Miramonte students, the responses leaned left, with moderate and conservative answers sprinkled throughout the results. 

Recently, the riots conducted by Trump supporters in Washington, D.C. following a Trump rally where the President claimed to have won the 2020 Presidential Election by a “landslide” incited anger within the student body, and many shared their opinions of the event on social media.

“I’m disgusted by what happened on the 6th but I’m not surprised. I saw videos of Proud Boys in Portland in September 2020 and I knew that the far right was looking for violence, and Trump’s rally before the insurrection was just the ‘okay’ they needed. And so was Rudy Giuliani asking for trial by combat,” senior Kolton Tang, who identifies as a Democrat, said. 

However, many non-liberal students echoed similar sentiments, including that the insurrection was not justified and the rioters should be punished. “My initial reaction to what happened in D.C. was shock, disgust, and a little bit of fear. I think that how and why the rioters were able to get into the Capitol should be addressed and I believe that those who entered the Capitol should be punished or arrested because I believe what they did shouldn’t be brushed off without recognition,” junior Isabel Stice, who says she is independent or undecided, said.

Following the riots, the event at the Capitol was quickly compared to the Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests. Many students began to wonder why the rioters at the Capitol were not met with significant force from police officers while BLM protesters often encountered armed officers and experienced tear gassing. 

Most of the time Black Lives Matter protests were peaceful yet they were still met with tear gas and violence. The riots at the Capitol were the opposite of peaceful and they were not met with a fraction of the violence that Black Lives Matter activists were faced with. It’s a huge example of white privilege,” freshman Sophie Wampler said.

On the other hand, some students believe that regardless of the intent, even if it is racial justice, violence should never be condoned. “The fact of the matter is that a lot of Trump rallies were peaceful, but this one turned violent and thus people deserve to be punished to the full extent of the law. This also applies to [Black Lives Matter] protests. Most of them were peaceful, but some of them turned into riots and caused damage and many were hurt and sometimes killed. Those rioters also should be punished to the full extent of the law. I know it can be hard to condemn something when you agree with its intended goal, but violence is violence period. It doesn’t matter if you agree, it’s still wrong,” junior George Destino, who identifies as a Libertarian said.

Relating to the 2020 election, some students believe that voter fraud occurred. “I do not think Biden won the election fairly because it is incredibly suspicious that this year’s mail-in ballots became such a huge push and that Biden breaks the record for most votes ever gotten in an election. Wow he must have done some great campaigning from his basement for that to happen!” senior Bryan Graves, who identifies as a conservative said. 

As Trump’s presidency comes to an end, and especially in the wake of the D.C. riots, many express changing political ideologies. “I definitely used to be a conservative, but due to current events and the actions of the President over the last four years, I have become more of a Liberal or Moderate. I consider myself a moderate because I have views that align with both parties, but leaning more towards the Liberal side,” junior Grace Clark said.

The Washington DC riots have also influenced some students to re-evaluate their positive views of Trump. “After the events on Capitol Hill, I can no longer consider myself a Trump supporter. I was fully on his side until he started pushing people to fight the election results. I mostly thought of it as a fight I would sit on the sidelines for and I had no idea that it would lead to this. I think no less of people who continue to support him, truly, but most of the Trump supporters I know have also decided to jump ship or call out the president for this poor decision,” Destino said.

But for some students, the Washington, D.C. riot had no effect on their support for the Trump administration. “My views on the Trump administration and Republican Party did not change due to the D.C. riots because Trump did not tell these people to go storm the Capitol building. Also, being a Republican has little to no association with what happened because most Republicans, and even Trump supporters, in America were appalled by what went on in D.C.,” Graves said. 

As Biden’s inauguration approaches, differing views of his victory remain. “I am not a fan of Biden. I think that he is another moderate Democrat who is unproductive at passing meaningful progressive legislation. For example, his decision to not ban fracking showed how moderate he is regarding environmental policy. He has also claimed that we must ‘increase our police funding’ in order to stop police brutality,” junior Tom Inouye, who avoids identifying as a Republican or Democrat, said.

Students with more moderate views of Biden also criticize the future presidential administration. “I do not agree with some of Biden’s beliefs and policies, but that is beyond the point. I believe that he will do a good job in easing this great political divide our country has become engaged in,” junior Nathan Rigsby, who identifies as a Republican said. 

The general consensus among all political ideologies remains that Biden is the next president of the United States, and thus this decision must be respected. “An acceptable president? I mean sure he will be, as the media will portray everything as back to normal as your rights are slowly stripped away and you are taxed into the ground. This is acceptable because I accept that he is the president and Democrats have control of Congress. To not accept it would just be wrong: it’s how the government works,” a senior who wishes to remain anonymous said.

On Jan. 13, the House of Representatives voted to impeach Trump for the second time during his presidency on charges of “inciting violence,” with the Senate planning to meet for a conviction hearing likely sometime after the inauguration. Trump became the first president in American history to be impeached twice, and many students expressed strong reactions to the news. “I think the impeachment is justified. He has done so many things that he should have been impeached for in the past. I think it’s completely justified, and it should have happened a long time ago that he got impeached again,” senior Eli Kessler, who identifies as a Liberal said.

Students’ perspectives continue to evolve as Trump’s presidency concludes, but the variety of opinions will likely remain. Political differences will keep sparking small conflicts on social media and the range of students’ views continues to grow and fluctuate. As the country’s politics remain uncertain, some are hopeful that a new presidential era will bring much-needed unity to the country after years of polarization. “Some people say that 2021 is gonna be bad,” Rigsby said. “Well, based on what happened on Jan. 6, I would say that we’ve hit rock bottom. It can only go up from here.”