As a 17-year-old boy who has always believed in this nation’s great system of democracy, I sat in horror as I watched the desecration of the United States Capitol. I watched these self-proclaimed “patriots” climb the side of the Capitol building’s perimeter, sit on the seat of the Senate, smash the windows of the building, and fight their way closer to members of Congress.

What was supposed to be the formality of counting the Electoral College vote for President-elect Joe Biden turned into a terrifying experience for members of Congress. A mob outside, some carrying firearms and homemade explosives, were not looking for any reasonable solution. All they were looking for was to influence the workings of a democratic process using their false conspiracy theories, with violence seemingly being a tool they were more than willing to use.

How does any sensible Republican justify this? All summer, we saw as the Republican party proudly called themselves the “party of law and order” until it came to stopping their own party. As much as it may hurt to admit it, it was not Antifa nor Black Lives Matter. It was only supporters of President Trump, with the Trump name all over their signs and flags.

All of the violence goes back to the baseless conspiracy theories that Republicans have been passing around since the announcement that President-elect Joe Biden won the election. It is the same idea that the officials on the left side of the aisle were committing some schemes to change the election and elect Joe Biden. Yet, to this day, nothing has come of these theories. No federal court or legislative body has found any fraud committed, no inappropriate action by an executive, or irregularities in the counting process.

After Senators were allowed to return to their chamber, Senator Lindsey Graham really wrapped up the theories in one sentence. He stated, “They say there’s 66,000 people in Georgia under 18 voted ... I asked, give me 10, hadn’t had one.” As a result of Lindsey Graham speaking truth on the Senate floor, he would be harassed at the airport and labelled a traitor. Even Vice-President Pence rejected the pressure to reject the results of the Electoral College. In return, Pence was called a traitor and some have even said that the noose outside the Capitol Building was also meant for him.

At the end of the day, the ones who are most affected by these conspiracy theories are the ones who are spreading them. Their platform of law and order is severely undermined by last Wednesday’s events. Considering these are the final two weeks of Trump’s presidency, this violence and rioting are only working to stain his legacy. Whatever good he might have done during his four years in office will be overlooked, it is just human nature. We always look over the best of people and focus on the bad in them, and President Trump is no different.

Being even slightly guilty of inciting a riot in the Capitol Building is not something people will forget about anytime soon. Having your attorney give a speech about “Trial by combat” before a riot that left five people dead is not easy to wipe from your ledger.

Miguel Arceo is a student athlete at Sebring High School. All columns, viewpoints, and letters are opinions of the writer, not necessarily that of the Highlands News-Sun.