As I sit here tonight watching the news coverage of today’s election certification vote, I am horrified. I have to ask myself, How could this happen?
Not, How were they able to get into a secure building?, but How could this take place here, in the U.S.? But we have been watching this build for months. Our very democracy is at stake.
This is the United States of America. I have to say that I am not proud of who we are today. Maybe we were never the country I thought we were, but this cannot continue.
We are a democratic republic
That means that we elect people to represent us, and if we don’t like what they do, we elect someone else next time. We have elections every year, every four years for president and vice-president. We need to honor that process.
We elect our officials for local, state and national government. Sometimes the candidate we want wins, sometimes they don’t. Either way, we use our vote to voice our wishes. We need to honor and respect the results.
Instead, what I am seeing is a group of militant bullies storming the Capitol building, breaking windows, spraying pepper spray, shooting weapons, and threatening our representatives if they don’t do as they demand.
That’s anarchy, not democracy.
At the last presidential election, Trump won the electoral college vote, but did not win the popular vote. No one stormed the Capitol and demanded that the vote be changed. Yet, today, that is exactly what we saw.
If this were another country, we might be looking at hundreds dead or wounded. It is sad that one woman lost her life, but I am amazed there weren’t more.
The actions of this dissident mob threatens to destroy the will of the people of this country who voted to make a change. More importantly, it endangers the Constitution and democracy.
Who is responsible?
This is a great question to ask, and I would venture to say that we ALL bear some blame. This year, in particular, I have been doing a lot of soul searching. It hasn’t been comfortable.
For the last four years, I have been embarrassed by the antics of Donald Trump. I have been appalled at the level of violence against people of color. My heart broke for the children separated from their parents at our southern border.
Way before the election occurred, Trump began constructing a narrative that created our present situation. The minute he realized that defeat was a real possibility, he began alleging fraud.
That was the first time I thought, “Hmm. There is no way Trump is willingly going to leave the Whitehouse. He might stage a coup.” And here we are. He holds a rally of his supporters right before the confirmation. Trump is at fault.
But he is not the only one. I keep seeing posts on Facebook being shared over and over again. Then soon after, those same posts are flagged with false information by fact tracers. These posts are inflammatory and designed to appeal to fear.
I don’t blame Facebook. I do blame those who continue to proliferate this kind of thing. I blame those who created it in the first place. And I blame those who share it without checking it out first, just because they want it to be true.
How to we make this right?
We, the people, must educate ourselves in the truth and not let ourselves be misled by fake news. Our current president is the one who began to decry fake news. Now it is our turn. Check the facts before you put it out there. Call out fake news when you see it.
Come together and support everyone’s inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. This is constitutionally guaranteed, so we all must commit to protecting freedom for ALL.
The preamble to the Constitution states: “We must hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” This includes the poor, the rich, the middle class, white, black, brown, LGBTQ+, First Nation peoples, and immigrants to this country. We must ensure it.
We must take a look at ourselves and our way of thinking. Does what we think and believe contribute to suffering for someone else? How are our actions and words contributing to harm for those with little or no voice?
We must sit with our fellow Americans — black, brown, white, everyone — and listen to each other, care about each other, and ask, “How can I help you?” Not “How does this help me?”
To rephrase Kennedy’s inaugural question: Ask not what your fellow Americans can do for you, ask what you can do for your fellow Americans.
This is how we begin to make it right.
What happens now?
First, we celebrate the inauguration of a new president. It is my sincere hope that we will not see any further violence. If we do, I hope that justice prevails.
Next, we must come together and stand shoulder to shoulder for justice and equality. We must ask those people who participated in the mob, or who would have participated, why they are so angry. And listen to what they say, without judgement or dismissing it out of hand.
We must come together to solve the racial injustices. White people must work with people of color and other minorities to ensure that lasting change is made.
Finally, we must stand watch over our own actions and words. We have been taught that sticks and stones can break our bones, but words can never hurt us. We have witnessed the falsity of that claim. Words cause fear, and fear causes people to be defensive, and their actions cause harm.
FDR said, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” I propose we work to allay those fears by stopping the words that cause it.
We can be strong again
Our country is a great nation, and if we work together, it can be great again. We must watch our words and actions, stand together, and listen carefully to each other.
Be the change our country needs to make it a great place to be.
Pat Davis, a retired teacher and editor of Simply Living and Living Simply, lives with her husband and neurotic cat, Neko. She loves to read, write, travel, bake, garden, sew, and craft. Top writer in Food and Cooking.