Was the riot at the Capitol Building really President Trump’s fault?

Last week protestors stormed the Capitol Building in Washington. They over-powered guards, violently destroyed property and terrorized our elected leaders. Those involved will be caught and prosecuted for their crimes. This horrific act followed after tens of thousands of protestors peacefully marched in Washington. What sparked the change?

Most people are blaming President Trump and other GOP organizations for inciting this riot. “We’re going to walk down to the Capitol and we’re going to cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women and we’re probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them,” Trump said.

Throughout his four years in office, Trump has been a less than effective communicator. Had he been a better communicator he could have avoided many of the problems he had to face. The phone call with Ukraine that led to his first impeachment hearing is an example.

Trump, who is a businessperson and not a politician, used a businessperson’s language on a telephone call. Trump’s opponents were able to convince those who already held Trump in very low regard, that the call represented an impeachable offense. Since personal relationships are so important in business, people often phrase requests as “favors.’ Nothing is done illegally, but favors can make things easier.

For instance, often when a business enters a new market, they need to gather information and to determine who the decision-makers are. That could be very time consuming, but if the business can find a contact who already has this information that speeds up a costly process. If they could find a contact that the business has helped in the past, that really speeds up the process.

In Trump’s impeachment phone call his meaning for “do me a favor” was just that the US did not have access to all the necessary needed information and Ukrainian officials did have the information.

What Trump should have said is, “We need your help in gathering information about US government officials’ activities in the last few years or so in Ukraine. There is at least some indication of impropriety and we just want to have complete information for our investigation. Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.”

Trump’s poor communication skills coupled with the strong and deep anger felt by Americans from both parties, fueled the indefensible actions taken by those who stormed the Capitol Building and the blaming of Trump today. Republicans are angry and Democrats are angry.

The GOP says that Trump has not been treated fairly since day one. In 2016 the Dems accused him of being an “illegitimate” president because he colluded with the Russians. Trump lived with constant misinformation and pressure for two years with the special prosecutor, who ultimately concluded there was not sufficient evidence of any collusion or any wrongdoing.

Then the impeachment fiasco, which Republicans believe was baseless. And now they are convinced that the election had so much fraud that the results should be fully investigated immediately. They believe that they never had a chance to present the entire findings to the American public.

The Democrats are also angry. For the last four years, they have had to endure a President that says ridiculous and unpresidential things. They believe Trump is a bully who is racist, prejudice and self-serving. They disapprove of his actions and believe he has harmed the US reputation abroad, especially with our closest allies.

The Dems are very angry that Trump won’t accept what they believe was a free and fair election. Like nearly every President in the past, Trump should concede and assist in the peaceful transition of power. And now, they believe, Trump incited the riot that damaged the Capital Building and he should be held accountable for that.

If only Trump had the communication skills of Ronald Reagan or Barak Obama. Because every one of his very well attended rallies was free from any violence, he likely expected the same this time. But because of the anger that nearly everyone feels and Trump’s poor communication skills, the riot resulted.

Was it really Trump’s fault that the peaceful protest by tens of thousands of Trump supporters turned into a riot by less than 100 people who clearly broke the law?

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Michael Busler

Michael Busler, Ph.D. is a public policy analyst and a Professor of Finance at Stockton University where he teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in Finance and Economics. He has written Op-ed columns in major newspapers for more than 35 years.

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