We are, as a nation, increasingly divided. I do not think it is overstating our current state of affairs to say that our democracy is at stake. In the White House sits a president tethered neither to his oath of office nor a respect for the Constitution. Last week he called upon a violent mob, incited by his months of wildly false and baseless rhetoric as to the legitimacy of the November election, to attack the very seat of our democracy. Congress was not buckling to his will. And so, he directed a group of domestic terrorists to intervene with the goal of overthrowing Congress and overturning the election. It mattered not to the president that, had they succeeded, that which binds us as a nation would be gone. This president has consistently demonstrated an inability to see that far ahead.
And yet, it would be a mistake to believe that last week’s insurrection was simply a symptom of the Trump presidency that will dissipate when he leaves office. For instance, while the president is adept at manipulating and using white nationalism to his advantage, it is a stain that dates to the beginnings of this nation. And unfortunately, those who espouse it are not going anywhere and not likely to change their perverted world view.
Therefore, it is up to those of us who believe in democracy and inclusion to be about the work of building this more perfect union. Democracy demands involvement. It also demands tolerance. We need to encourage and partake in civil debate. We need to stop demonizing or ridiculing those we disagree with. In fact, we need to be in proximity with people who have views that differ from ours. At the same time, we need to call out and denounce those who espouse hatred and bigotry. We may not be able to change hearts, but we need to visibly align ourselves with those being targeted by hatred.
And this is not about saving democracy for the sake of democracy. It’s about supporting a system of governance best equipped to address societal needs – be it more accessible healthcare, equal education, pathways to employment, or affordable housing.
All of us will likely remember where we were when we learned that the U.S. Capitol had come under attack. Those who come after us need to know how we responded and what we did to rebuild and advance democracy and the politics of inclusion.