It’s been more than 200 years since our country’s seen anything like it. Personally, I could have gone another few centuries without a repeat.

Invaders inside our nation’s capitol on Wednesday, protesting ... well, never mind. It doesn’t matter what they were protesting, does it? No grievance, real or imagined, could justify their actions.

Whatever their original intentions or message — peaceful protest, attention seeking, picking up a few extra followers on social media — went down the toilet once the mob pushed its way inside what has always been considered sacred government grounds.

The “insurrectionists,” “domestic terrorists” or whatever other terms fit the situation lost all credibility once they began ransacking official government property.

Sorry, but in my humble opinion, that’s how it works. Protestors deserve a voice and respect. Rioters and looters don’t.

It wasn’t seeing people behaving badly that felt like such a personal kick in the crotch. I’ve seen enough bad behavior to have developed at least a little immunity to such sights. I’ve gotten sick over any protest-turned-riot, simply because the rioters are usually nothing more than instigators. Most of them aren’t seeking a resolution for anything. They just want to break something or watch something burn.

What left me wanting to puke in this case was seeing just how far (or how low) some are willing to go to get their way. This was our nation’s freaking capitol, and those idiots were treating it like an abandoned double-wide. Zero respect.

Again, the last time anything close to this occurred was in 1814, when British troops marched into Washington and set fire to the building, the President’s Mansion and other facilities.

We were at war with the British at the time. They were our enemies. They didn’t want our nation to succeed independently. Their motivation for destruction at least made sense. It’s what enemies do.

So, what are we to make of Wednesday’s perpetrators? If, as they claimed, their main complaint was the results of our recent election, did they really think storming the walls was going to overturn any of it? Will the reported deaths (four, so far) be enough to cause our entire government to ditch our free-elections process?

Nope. Our form of democracy has survived a lot worse than this. Parties and people have lost elections at every level since this country was born, and all were able to get on with their lives without ripping up our version of constitutional democracy. It will take far more than an unhinged mob to wreck what we’ve been building for nearly 250 years.

Knowing such doesn’t make me feel a whole lot better. I love this country with all its flaws. I refuse to acknowledge what transpired on Wednesday as anything but unacceptable. It was reckless and dangerous, and something I fear is but a precedent for more of the same behavior. Unhinged people don’t suddenly find hinges.

Were the attackers part of the “all enemies, foreign and domestic” mentioned in oaths of office or military service? We’re supposed to quell those enemies just as hard as we do any outside forces. They’re just as dangerous — if not more dangerous, simply because they come disguised as regular American citizens. Do we treat them as such?

Or do they get some kind of free pass just because of all the misinformation flying around regarding the recent election? I’ve already heard some efforts at defense: “It’s not their fault. They’ve been lied to, and they’re just angry.” Or, “They were simply responding to the inciting words from their leaders.”

Really? I’m not buying it. Other people heard the same words and didn’t act the same way. Those I saw breaking windows and desecrating those floors were grown people old enough to know better.

Free pass? Please. They got at least some measure of a free pass when they were able to get inside the facility in the first place. I’d love an explanation as to how this particular mob didn’t get to taste the same tear gas or feel the same rubber bullets other protestors experienced this past year — right there in the same city. How did one group who stayed outside get worse treatment than the ones who trampled the insides of our nation’s capitol?

One group featured people of color. The other didn’t. Want to guess which group got the better end of the stick/baton?

I have so many questions. I seriously doubt I’ll receive answers to all of them. I don’t think any answers offered me will make me feel any better.

All I know is I hope we never, ever see anything like Wednesday’s mess again. Let it have its date of infamy, separate from our normal days. Let it be but a small stain and nothing bigger.

I’ll hang onto my high expectations for all things better. My eternal optimism has gotten me through some rough times.

I’ll also look for more of what I heard last night from people like Pennsylvania Rep. Conor Lamb. His words should go on an inscription somewhere as a reminder to the next group of would-be insurgents:

“We want this government to work more than they want it to fail.”

Gary Stallard is a regular contributor to the Opinion page of The Lufkin Daily News. His email address is garylstallard@yahoo.com.