The attack on the U.S. Capitol

January 7, 2021

Credit: ASampedro — Fotolia

The attack on the U.S. Capitol and on various state Capitols on January 6th were acts of domestic terrorism and at their core are acts of treason against the foundational constructs of democracy. Their incitement by President Trump over the last eight weeks by using the highest office in the land to spread lies and false accusations, at the Washington D.C. rally that preceded the attack of the Capitol, and even in his video message while the attack was in progress, are deplorable and violate his oath of office. A mob, including people carrying the confederate flag, was able to violently ransack the very seat of our Democracy, yet the law enforcement presence and response was a stark contrast to the militarized approach to Black Lives Matter protests of 2020. This race-based double standard, while not surprising, is chilling and another clarion call for systemic change. January 6th will go down as a day of infamy. We must remember and hold to account the elected officials, including senators and congresspeople, who aided and abetted President Trump’s false claims and attempts to invalidate a free and fair election.

Democracy matters. It is important to support the outcome of elections. The fact that the President and numerous members of Congress who all swore oaths to defend the Constitution are overtly trying to subvert democracy and for the first time in U.S. history to stand in the way of a peaceful transition of the presidency inflicts serious harm to the core of our nation. Both Houses of Congress made the right choice to reconvene and to do their constitutional duty by certifying the clear and fair results of the presidential election. Yet even after the Capitol was attacked incited by lies about the election results, 147 members of Congress still voted to object to the certification. As deeply flawed and as challenged as we are to actually live up to our nation’s ideals, we are far better than this.

Despite massive efforts at voter suppression by those now claiming foul play, this election was free and fair. In the midst of a pandemic, we had the largest percentage of voter turnout in 120 years. On November 3rd, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris won by over seven million votes and 74 Electoral College votes and numerous Republicans and Democrats were elected to both the House and the Senate. On January 5th, Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff won both of Georgia’s Senate seats. The hard work, organizing and real patriotism of volunteers and voters resulted in the outcomes of these elections. The voters have spoken and their voices must be respected.

To those who enable false claims, who seek to undermine democracy and who clearly put caste, power and privilege over truth, decency and rule-of-law, the voters of this nation see through your cynicism and callous disregard of decency and truth.

To all of those elected to serve our people but who spent the last eight weeks stoking unfounded fears rather than addressing the greatest public health threat in living memory, the people of this nation and the world see you for what you are.

We must not let this pass as an unfortunate circus that played too long.

We must see this for what it is: a threat to democracy and a deep wound to the soul of our nation.

We must call this what it is: demagoguery and authoritarianism.

We must do the work of addressing and dismantling the root causes: racist ideas, inequity and a zero-sum system that fosters a politics of fear.

And, we must also have gratitude for the incredible impact of voter engagement, power-building and grassroots organizing that made such a difference in this election and must inspire us to ensure that the electorate of 2022 and beyond is more diverse, more committed to equity, and more active than any in U.S. history.