Every American and believer in democracy should be repulsed by the violent and seditious acts that occurred in the nation’s capital this week as the people’s elected representatives worked to finalize the lawful outcome of the presidential election.
President Trump’s inciting rhetoric and the inexcusable actions of those who stormed the Capitol failed to derail the certification of the election. But violence was committed against our democracy due to lies and misinformation sowed for years by the president and his enablers in Congress, many of whom continue to refuse to accept the will of the majority of Americans. And the incident resulted in the loss of five lives.
The people who perpetrated and cheered on this riot, including many who openly displayed racist symbols, were not just fringe actors; they included current and former state representatives. Elected officials, including several members of Congress who represent our region, fueled or tacitly supported the mob by repeatedly undermining the legitimacy of the election.
The voters have spoken, state recounts have confirmed the results, and numerous courts have settled scores of disputes. The facts are available, affirmed by civil servants and elected leaders on both sides of the aisle. Attempts to delegitimize the election are attempts to disenfranchise and trample on the rights of the majority of voters themselves. They are attacks against all of us, but especially against people of color, who for decades have fought the apparatus of white supremacy and voter suppression to exercise their right to vote.
The fact that law enforcement was not sufficiently prepared for a violent mob making good on a months-long series of public statements declaring their intent is deeply troubling. This is especially true when juxtaposed against the heavy-handedness that law enforcement deployed against Black Lives Matter protests last year, of which the vast majority were entirely non-violent.
The riot itself was not an isolated aberration but the result of years of racist dogma and goading by the president, his allies and many of his supporters. Justice demands that Donald Trump be immediately removed and barred from seeking elected office in the future, and for investigations into his actions and the failures that precipitated the siege. His unfitness for office and the threat he continues to pose have never been clearer.
Members of Congress have a responsibility to use their positions of power and leadership to give voice to the truth while actively countering lies, and to not give credence to the voice of a mob driven by misinformation and embedded with white supremacy. We call on the new Congress to carry the weight of their offices with integrity, and we will hold them, and government entities at all levels, accountable for treating their offices and our communities with the respect they deserve.
From the Appalachian Voices staff