Yesterday, the historically peaceful and largely symbolic process of transitioning to a new administration was thrown into chaos by an angry mob of Trump supporters. It was a violent act of sedition, encouraged by the President and enabled by other elected officials. It was an act of domestic terrorism, supported by those in this country intent on doing physical harm to the people and to the processes by which our democracy functions. It was an act of racism — clearly displayed through the despicable Confederate flags flying, and the gallows with a noose erected on the grounds.
This has never before happened in American electoral history. It must never happen again. It is up to us to ensure that there are consequences to this sedition and terrorism.
Moms across the country looked on in horror and disgust at the spectacle, and wondered how we might explain this radical and abhorrent behavior to our children. To begin with, we must hold accountable those who let it happen, and helped it happen, on their watch. And those thugs who trespassed and rampaged.
Yesterday’s storming of the Capitol bears zero similarity to protest marches that happen regularly in our country — protests against many different issues. We live in a democracy that allows for peaceful protesting.
Yesterday was violent, destructive, racist, angry, threatening — and dangerous. It was many weeks in the planning. It was invited, incited, and applauded by a lame duck president, refusing to concede, lying about the voting process — a president who looked on at the looting and rioting and did nothing.
I think of the countless times members of Moms Clean Air Force have been in those gracious and gorgeous halls. I think of the Capitol Police escorting us in — making sure we stayed in lines in correct hallways. I think about a member who was stopped because he had milk in his backpack, for heaven’s sake. Had we gotten out of line or run down the hallways, we would have been escorted out. I think of all the mothers who were ritually arrested during peaceful sit-ins against climate denial. Can you even imagine if these had been Black Lives Matter protestors? The steps outside the Capitol would have been blanketed in tear gas, rubber bullets flying and vans being filled with people going to jail.
Perhaps one of the most disturbing sights of all was some of the police taking selfies with these thugs and ushering them out, holding doors politely open, leaving them to go home or roam city streets, their wrath unabated. No consequence to anyone? The mind boggles.
Nevertheless, these dangerous attempts to topple our democracy and prop up the ego of a failed President did not succeed. The strength of the electoral process was on display as we watched Congress reconvene and certify the results of the 2020 presidential election. The actions and behavior of Donald Trump have eroded our democracy, but they have not destroyed it.
Talking to my younger son last night, I recalled how I could still vividly remember exactly where I was, as a child, when President Kennedy was shot and killed — and time seemed to stop. When Martin Luther King was murdered — and time seemed to stop. When Robert Kennedy was shot and killed — and time seemed to stop. Memories engraved in my heart and soul. And in the heart and soul of this nation.
“So, Mom,” my son asked — “are things better or worse now?”
I cannot answer that in any simple fashion. Can you?
But today, I can say to our children, to our families and friends, that we must remain standing on the side of a peaceful democracy. And we will do all in our power to protect it.
Our children are watching. Just as we watched, as we grew up into this world.
Perhaps someday we will be truly able to say — things are much, much better now than they were. But it will be because of the work we do today and tomorrow.