January 6 taught us that democracy is fragile

Published 12:46 pm Friday, January 14, 2022

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As the investigation into what happened on January 6 at the U.S. Capitol continues by the House Select Committee, we are reminded of how divided we are as a nation and how fragile our democracy is. We take so much for granted, including our freedom.
In reflecting on the events of Jan. 6, 2020, we would not have thought that Americans — some of them men and women who had fought for freedom — would storm the Capitol with the intention of doing harm to members of Congress and overturning a lawful election. But, it happened.
And, the president who was defeated in the election, Donald Trump, endorsed what happened.
Amidst what happened, we as Americans must honestly and openly ask why this happened and what needs to happen to unite Americans around an understanding of the common good and a common goal.
Reflecting on the Jan. 6, 2020 events at the U.S. Capitol, we cannot take our democracy for granted. And, that is why the hearings by the House Select Committee’s investigation into that event are so important. Why do some lawmakers who denounced the attack in real time, now deny the seriousness of the assault.
Thirty-four percent of Americans think violent action against the government is sometimes justified, according to a new poll from The Washington Post and the University of Maryland, a percentage that is considerably higher than in past polls.
The partisan divide is even more troubling. Roughly, 40% of Republicans, 41% of independents and 23% of Democrats said violence against the government is sometimes justified. And a separate CBS News-YouGov poll noted that 62% of Americans said they expect violence over losing in future presidential elections and that only 38% said they expect the losing side will concede peacefully.
What will the next election be like? If the outcome is not what we want will we resort to violence to get our way? The next time, our democracy might be overthrown and our freedom goes.
Regardless of what political party you identify with, we must admit that there are some members of Congress who should not be there. They are too extreme in their thinking. But, they were elected in fair elections by a majority of voters in their state or districts.
Are we listening to what these candidates are saying and promising? Do we agree with their talk and thinking? Or, do we vote for them just because they are Republican or a Democrat?
The hearing on what happened on Jan. 6, 2020, in our nation’s capital is important. We must get to the bottom of what happened, and those responsible must be punished. Our freedoms are precious, but they are vulnerable. In the past, no matter how divided we have been as a nation, we have overcome and embraced the principles of responsible governance.
But at no other time have we as a nation been so divided? We are experiencing ideological, religious, political, and economic fractures that test our basic beliefs as never before. And, as one Texas newspaper editor wrote: “We share common values, or so we wish to believe, but also have allowed conspiracy theories, unvarnished exercise of power and selective interpretation of selective facts or in the absence of facts, fantasies and outright lies, to define and divide us.
“If we believe America is an exceptional nation, then we must also believe in peaceful resolutions of political disputes, the peaceful transfer of power and the enduring importance of constitutional norms and institutions.”
America’s biggest threat is not Russia, China, or another country. But, it is we, the people.
If we are to preserve our democracy, we must be responsible citizens and voters. We must listen to what our lawmakers are saying and we must hold them accountable for their actions.
We must not let our ideological or extreme beliefs divide us as a nation. We must always look for truth.

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