The Latest: Pelosi says Congress to resume once Capitol safe (copy)

Supporters of President Donald Trump climb the west wall of the the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington.

Donald Trump was right about one thing. Greatness still eludes us.

As scenes of chaos unfolded in our nation’s capital Wednesday, U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger told NBC News that when angry mobs storm government buildings, the CIA often takes it as a sign to get American citizens out of a particular country. She would know. She’s a former U.S. intelligence officer.

What we witnessed Wednesday was not an image befitting the greatest democracy on earth, but something you’d see in a third-world nation with a tin-pot dictator.

This is what it comes down to, after four years of bullying, vilifying, conspiracy theories and stirring up the base. The Capitol on lockdown. A constitutionally mandated meeting disrupted. Tear gas in the air. A Confederate flag waiving outside the Senate chambers. Protesters rifling through lawmakers’ offices, standing on the Senate dais and walking off with souvenirs. Elected representatives cowering in fear.

Apologists will point to BLM protests at U.S. cities this summer or what happened at Josh Hawley’s house the other night. Hogwash. Those acts of disorder and intimidation are shameful and should be strongly opposed in no uncertain terms, but this is something completely different. This incursion at the U.S. Capitol strikes at the heart of American democracy and shows an appalling disregard for this nation’s institutions, traditions and the peaceful transfer of power.

This must be repudiated, unequivocally, by all Americans and political leaders, regardless of party affiliation or views on the election results. Trump, who earlier in the day vowed to never back down and led his supporters in a profanity-filled chant, must take responsibility for his central role in providing the fuel that sparked this mayhem.

If he doesn’t, then other leaders need to step up to the plate. Sen. Hawley, photographed giving a raised fist to protesters prior to the mob assault, should do his part to calm rather than roil the waters. All Americans must ask if fealty to one man is as important as adherence to a higher ideal. There are 330 million people in this country. Perhaps there’s someone else out there that can keep our taxes low?

After this dark day in U.S. history, one of the most eloquent statements came from George W. Bush.

“To those who are disappointed in the results of the election: Our country is more important than the politics of the moment,” he said. “Let the officials elected by the people fulfill their duties and represent our voices in peace and safety.”

Bush was president during another dark time in our nation’s history: the 9/11 attacks. That was worse, in terms of destruction and lives lost, but Jan. 6 breaks our hearts for another reason.

We did this to ourselves.