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One Year Later

I can remember the air of uncertainty as the new Congress convened last year. There was a lot of anticipation about what really was going to happen. Would congressional Republicans perform their constitutional duty and certify a free and fair election?

Before the vote, I went out and walked amongst the crowd and you could feel a growing sense of menace. But who could imagine how bad it got, and how what should have been a routine, simple ceremony would quickly go off the rails. And while the drama inside the chambers took place with unwarranted procedural objections from Republicans that ended up delaying the proceedings, things were getting worse outside.

We knew at the time that Donald Trump and his campaign had been pressuring Mike Pence to unconstitutionally and illegally disregard certain states' ballots—a scheme Pence rejected.

As Congress gathered to perform our duty under the Constitution, Donald Trump and a parade of extremist liars whipped the mob into a frenzy of rage and sent them careening down Constitution Avenue toward the Capitol.

We all know what happened next: The breakdown in order was appalling. The attempt to attack members of the House and Senate forced them to flee for their safety.

We came dangerously close to losing our democracy. Broken glass, blood, and feces littered the hallowed halls where I spent years doing the people's business. I still struggle to comprehend such a reckless disregard for our democracy and our constitutional duty to the American people.

But that wasn't the worst of it. As order was restored after this incomprehensible assault on our democracy, 147 of my Republican colleagues still voted to overturn a free and fair election.

There were some profiles in courage among Republicans in Congress when we reconvened for business that night. I was proud of some of them, as they knew their votes to certify the 2020 election would not only threaten their careers, but their lives.

But most of them still refuse to acknowledge, let alone address, the fact that the attacks on our democracy haven't ended. Massive sums of dark money, partisan gerrymandering, and voter suppression bills enacted in states across America are a danger unlike anything we've seen since the Civil War.

This may be the future of the Republican Party, but it doesn't have to be the future of the United States. In the wake of January 6, House Democrats passed a series of bills aiming to strengthen our democracy. And while these bills await Senate action, we haven't given up our fight to strengthen democracy in America.

Alex, today is a day to reflect on what we value about our democracy—and to commit to saving it.


Posted on January 6, 2022.