One year ago, our nation paused to watch a horror unfold.
Hundreds of people stormed the U.S. Capitol, toppling barricades, smashing windows and beating police officers, in an attempt to halt the peaceful transition of power.
The peaceful transition of power.
That transfer – from one president to another – has occurred nearly four dozen times in our republic’s 245-year history. Never halted or upended by violence. It’s a fundamental ingredient, essential to our system of government. The confirmation of the will of the American people. A measure of closure after even the most divisive of elections. A milestone built on trust and collective sacrifice.
That day, one year ago, we watched a fracture in our democracy surface in a way that hasn’t occurred during our lifetime or the lifetime of anyone we know or love.
We witnessed political violence visited upon the epicenter of our nation’s stability and power. A place built on thoughtful debate and compromise.
The next day, on this page, we called through the largest megaphone within our reach for our neighbors to recognize that fissure and the danger it presents. For everyone who reads to recognize the catastrophe fomented by entertainment that masquerades as news, disinformation campaigns, politicians who play to our worst instincts and social media platforms that silo our world views.
We invoked Benjamin Franklin’s solemn warning from his closing remarks at the Constitutional Convention of 1787.
“A republic ... if you can keep it,” Franklin replied when asked what form of government he and his peers had shepherded into existence for our country.
Today, a year after that fissure broke the surface of our democracy, we resurrect that plea.
We have not collectively done the work necessary to come together. In fact, the divisions that catalyzed the historic attack of Jan. 6, 2021 have only worsened. Ordinary Americans continue to live in separate, alternate narratives. Realities where our neighbors are willing to reject inconvenient facts, where folks no longer are willing or able to sacrifice for the common good.
The foundation of our democracy is, and always has been, Americans’ ability to recognize that no single person makes our nation great. Our republic has survived for nearly a quarter millennia — through civil and world wars, famine, economic disaster and plagues — because time and again we placed the good of the many ahead of the desires of the few.
Today, as fractures in that foundation widen and our grasp on it loosens, we again call out.
Our republic is fragile, and only together will we rise to keep it.