Yesterday was historic—for reasons that were both exhilarating and horrifying.
Rev. Warnock and Jon Ossoff’s victories capped a seemingly endless electoral season. Rev. Warnock will be the first Black Democratic senator from a former Confederate state, and Jon Ossoff will be the first Jewish senator elected by a southern state since the 19th century. We congratulate both Senators-elect.
Runoff elections are a relic of Jim Crow in which the additional hurdle was instituted with the express intent of suppressing Black voters. It didn’t work—our democratic system did.
At least in Georgia.
In Washington, DC, our democracy has been enduring a stress test like no other. After four years of President Trump stoking violence, hate, and lies, his ardent followers became a violent, destructive mob yesterday and attempted a coup on our US Capitol. Their intent was to disrupt Congress’ constitutionally mandated electoral certification process. We should not have been surprised that Trump’s long disinformation and incendiary campaign culminated in what Senator Schumer last night called a permanent “stain on our democracy.”
Months ago, Trump said he would not commit to a peaceful transfer of power and yesterday morning, he continued to deny his defeat and—along with his son, Rudy Giuliani, and others—incited a crowd not to accept defeat and engage in “trial by combat.” He got his wish with people defacing our Capitol, and flagrantly waving the Confederate and Trump flags in the halls of the Capitol. And so last night, we witnessed a city under siege where the National Guard has been called in, and DC and surrounding suburbs remain under curfews. It is difficult to find strong enough words to describe the depth of our disgust and outrage.
We condemn in the strongest possible terms this criminal, undemocratic, and violent attack on the US Capitol, on our democracy, and the rule of law—and everyone who incited it. And we call for those involved to be prosecuted and brought to justice to the fullest extent of the law. And on the subject of law enforcement, it was hard not to notice the gross disparity and double standard between the light policing presence and “kid glove treatment” for this violent riot, compared to the overwhelming and inappropriate force used in this summer’s peaceful Black Lives Matter protests only blocks away.
Like many in our country and abroad, we watched in disbelief on television and on Twitter. Yet, as the dust settles and now that Congress confirmed the will of the people, we remain confident democracy and an orderly transition will prevail. President-elect Biden gave an address the US and the world needed to hear. Ultimately, we will come together and heal. In two weeks, we will have leadership in the White House who prizes our democracy, who values unity, and who will lead us out of these dark days. As Speaker Pelosi said, perhaps this moment at the brink can lead to “an epiphany for our country to heal.”