Opinion: What I learned inside the Capitol on January 6

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In fact, I was pretty optimistic when the day started. Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock hours earlier had won their second round of the US Senate in Georgia, giving Democrats control of the Senate. Weeks earlier in November, in Texas and across the country, turnout in the 2020 presidential election had been historic – people from all walks of life and all political persuasions making their voices heard despite fear and misinformation.
Then that day, as expected, allies of President Donald Trump, Arizona Representative Paul Gosar and Texas Senator Ted Cruz opposed Arizona’s results – attempting to corroborate the lie that the election of 2020 have been stolen.

That’s when I started getting text messages from friends and family asking me where I was and if I was safe. A violent crowd of Trump supporters descended on the United States Capitol. I texted my wife, “Whatever happens, I love you. I was prepared for the worst.

A lot of people don’t know how close we got to a more catastrophic event with even more loss of life. Thanks to the bravery of the United States Capitol Police and the DC Metro Police, my colleagues and I were evacuated to safety. I will be eternally grateful for the service of these officers.

I believe the most important thing that happened that day was not an unsuccessful attempt to reject the results of free, fair and secure elections, but Congress acting in a strong bipartisan fashion to reaffirm our greater democracy. late at night. Democracy has held up, but it has shown dangerous signs of fracturing.

As a member of the House of Commons Committee on Foreign Affairs, I have spoken with representatives of allied nations since that day. As the world watched the coup attempt, many wondered if democracy in the United States would survive.

The events of January 6 are part of a larger authoritarian movement across the world, which attempts to undermine and weaken Western democracies. Powerful autocracies like Russia and China continue to suppress democratic movements at home and export undemocratic propaganda and technology abroad, while former secular democracies like Hungary, Turkey and Poland continue to suffer a democratic setback.
And now the United States is joining this list of declining democracies, according to European think tank International IDEA.
We have seen this before. In the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s, authoritarian movements swept through the world’s most powerful countries, from Germany to Italy, from Spain to Japan – and it was the United States that helped lead. the world in an effort to overcome these movements.

Once again, the United States must lead the way out of this new era of authoritarianism.

The battle that will define America in 2022 began in 1865

For Democrats, guaranteeing the right to vote is an essential part of safeguarding democracy. However, we also recognize that our efforts to do so will not succeed without the support of Republicans and Independents.

2022 is the year when pro-democracy forces that believe in this country – regardless of their party affiliation – must come together to act. Like Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, a Republican member of the Jan.6 House Select Committee, other Republicans must be prepared to reject Trump’s toxic policies and stand up for Democratic principles.
The accountability for January 6, while important, is not enough. As we’ve seen in Texas and other states, Republican-controlled legislatures were all too willing to accept the “big lie” and make it harder for many Americans to vote.
As former President George W. Bush said in a September speech marking the 20th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks, “There is little cultural overlap between violent extremists abroad and those at home. But in their contempt for pluralism, in their contempt for human life, in their determination to defile national symbols, these are like filthy like-minded children, and it is our duty to confront them. “
It was under Bush that the Voting Rights Act was last reauthorized in 2006 with near-unanimous bipartisan approval in the House and Senate.
This legacy of bipartisan support for democracy is one of the crucial reasons the Senate must pass the Freedom to Vote Act, which will end partisan gerrymandering, secure our elections and protect voting rights. The House is ready to act, as we did with the John Lewis Voting Rights Act last summer. Despite the obstacles in the Senate to changing the filibuster, the Senate must use all possible options to achieve it. This bill is too important to let an obscure Senate rule stop the work we need to do.

Our democracy is at stake. Together, let’s fight to protect it.


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