Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Democracy prevails over mobs and reckless rhetoric

by Daily Inter Lake
| January 9, 2021 12:00 AM

The President was right when he said that Jan. 6, 2021 will be a day to remember forever.

Forever we’ll remember how the world’s greatest country was stretched to the brink, but ultimately turned back an unprecedented assault on our Capitol waged by a violent mob intent on disrupting democracy at work.

Duly elected lawmakers and congressional workers crouched under tables and took cover in undisclosed locations, while fools — some toting the Confederate flag — clashed with police and ransacked the hallowed chambers of Congress. Gas masks were deployed, weapons were drawn — one Air Force veteran was tragically shot dead, a Capitol officer was killed and three others died of medical emergencies. A senseless loss of life.

When the smoke cleared, quite literally, and the failed insurrection was denied, members of Congress gathered with fierce defiance. They would complete the work at hand, even if it took all night.

“Freedom wins. And this is still the people’s house,” Vice President Mike Pence said with the stern eyes of a man who just witnessed the unthinkable.

“We will not be kept out of this chamber by thugs, mobs, or threats. We will not bow to lawlessness or intimidation,” Majority Leader Mitch McConnell followed.

Shortly before 4 a.m. Thursday, the lawmakers finished their work, confirming Joe Biden won the election.

OUR DEMOCRACY shouldn’t have been pushed to this point. It was McConnell who earlier in the day ominously warned that efforts to overrule Biden’s victory could “damage our republic forever.”

Montana Sen. Steve Daines was among a dozen early objectors who abruptly reversed course as the Senate reconvened following the Capitol chaos. According to his office, “the deplorable violence, and the assault on our Constitution and law enforcement” had shaken the Senator enough to sway his decision. “We must restore confidence in our electoral process. We must, and we will, have a peaceful and orderly transition of power,” Daines stated that night.

It was the right decision, but it shouldn’t have taken a violent mob scaling the Capitol walls for the Senator to recognize what was at stake.

Unfortunately, Daines was swept up in the widespread and reckless rhetoric that led to the Jan. 6 melee. Shortly after the election, Daines’ campaign made the baseless claim that Democrats were “stealing” the election.

Of course, scores of court decisions — from conservative-leaning judges, mind you — and bipartisan election officials determined the 2020 election to have been fairly conducted. Meanwhile, Attorney General Barr, a loyal ally of the President, reaffirmed that there was no credible evidence of widespread election fraud.

In interviews with Montana media following the Capitol siege, Daines finally attempted to distance himself from his campaign’s false claims, saying that “campaign hyperbole” was conflated with his own words.

It should be noted that the Senator has had months to denounce the message sent out by his campaign. Months.

Instead, he stuck with the damaging narrative that the election was rigged.

If Sen. Daines aimed to “drive reforms to restore integrity” in the election process — certainly a noble pursuit and one worth discussing — he could have raised those issues without his own careless hyperbole. Words do matter, Senator.

Make no mistake, it was the constant beat of false narratives about the election that led to the shameful Capitol insurgence. Republican Sen. Mitt Romney drew the largest applause during the electoral vote count when he stated quite clearly, “The best way we could show respect for the voters who are upset is by telling them the truth.”

The events of Jan. 6 proved our democracy’s amazing strength, but it also revealed how dangerously divided our nation has become. We must find a way to turn the page on this embarrassingly low moment in our storied history as the world’s beacon of freedom and hope. Now is a time for introspection — for all of us. We are better than this.

Let’s vow to turn to civil discourse, not rhetoric or violence, as a means to express our opinion and sort out differences. Let’s build on what unites us for a better tomorrow. It’s the only path forward.