Americans watched in disbelief and horror as the US Capitol was stormed, our house desecrated, and our leaders hunted. On January 6, 2021, insurrectionists crossed the line and dragged the rest of us along with them. Because now, each of us has to poke our heads out from under the covers and make a decision about what we believe in: Do we want a free and multicultural democracy or a white autocracy?
For many of us, January 6 was an epiphany, an aha moment that cast a glaring floodlight on America’s problems. As author Jennifer Cruise put it, “Want to see how differently police treat BLM protesters from MAGA protesters? Want to see which side is the most violent and deranged? Want to see how bad it gets before even Ted Cruz starts backtracking? Yep, we’re there.”
We saw what a constant diet of lies, snowballing into the Big Lie that Joe Biden was not elected in free and fair elections, can do to a society. It’s dangerous. I’m happy that peace-loving employees are pressuring their bosses to disavow President Trump and his sycophants, that corporate America is slashing the funding to those politicians who voted against certifying the results of the Electoral College, and that ten House Republicans voted for impeachment. But where were these people during the past four years?
One thing we need to remember: Peaceful protest is legal. Armed insurrection is not. Peaceful protest seeks enduring change, while armed insurrection aims for chaos and the destruction of democracy. Those of us with even the slightest shred of sanity have never shouted, “We need to take back our country,” even when we were angry or disillusioned or felt disenfranchised. The implication of “our country” is that it is not someone else’s. And a democracy doesn’t work that way.
This is why Trump and the legislators who sided with him in insurrection must be held accountable. Now, they are crying that we as a nation need to heal, which is code for “Let’s do nothing; let’s give Trump and gang a hall pass.”
As Congresswoman Angie Craig from Minnesota told her constituents in an email after the attack: “Some of my colleagues are now calling for unity. I agree. We must unify around the truth. That America just completed one of the most secure elections in our nation’s history. That it was a free and fair election. The lies stoking these insurrectionists must stop and those perpetuating them held accountable.”
Let’s all make “Unify around the Truth” the motto of the Biden era and stomp out the last embers of the Trump dumpster fire. It’s time to start believing in democracy again.