Not in our lifetime.
Not in the lifetime of anyone we know or love.
Not in more than 200 years has anyone invaded the U.S. Capitol, the epicenter for our nation’s peaceful democratic process.
The mob that stormed Congress on Wednesday, incited by calls from President Donald Trump, brought violence to a place where, for centuries, our representatives have come together to debate, disagree and compromise, peacefully. A place that has served as a beacon for free nations near and far. A place from which our country’s lifeblood flows.
We all witnessed a low point for our democracy as an attempt at insurrection, catalyzed by delusions, invaded the one place, more than any other, that represents our ability to set aside our differences and act for the good of our country.
Congress is a place where vigorous disagreements unfold as lawmakers represent the interests of their constituents. Yet, it’s a venue defined by compromise.
The invasion disrupted one of the most important functions of our government — the peaceful transfer of power from one president to the next. The confirmation of the will of the American people. A foundational act that provides a measure of closure to even the most divisive election.
It is a sad day for us all.
We are angry, frightened and paralyzed at once.
We all witnessed the life of our democracy flash before our eyes.
At no point since the Sept.11 attacks has our nation found itself halted to witness something so devastating play out real time on American soil.
For many, scenes of guards, guns drawn, blockading the doors of Congress would’ve been unimaginable just a few years ago. Yet, today we found our surprise dulled by the gaping divide we have witnessed grow during the past four years as both our president and our political elite played to Americans’ worst instincts.
Those instincts, the itch to subvert the will of our neighbors, to reject the results of a tried, tested, true electoral system, are the poison of which Benjamin Franklin spoke at the close of 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.
Those instincts have become so pervasive today, many have lost sight of the true foundation of our democracy. Our country is not made great by one person.
Our democracy is great because it rejects the needs and desires of the few, for the good of the many. It has survived both civil and world wars, famine, economic catastrophe and plagues.
Each of those challenges required collective sacrifice. That sacrifice is the challenge to which Franklin referred.
Together, we stand today at the margins of a divide that threatens to rip that republic from our grasp.
And only together will we rise to keep it.