In the midst of the sad events of January 6, 2021, a dark day in American History, President-elect Joe Biden stated, “At their best, the words of a president can inspire. At their worst, they can incite.” Unfortunately, it was the latter that was on full display for the entire world to see.
How did we get to this dark day? The tentacles of culpability cast a wide net. And, predictably, there are already those who are trying to distance themselves from the events. A Congressman on one of the morning shows tried to deflect the blame solely onto the individuals who were committing the violence.
The genesis of it all, of course, is the current occupant of the Oval Office. None of his behavior since the election should have been a surprise to us. After losing the Iowa Caucus in February of 2016 he declared, “Ted Cruz didn’t win Iowa, he illegally stole it.” The surprise was that virtually an entire political party was lending credence to the nonsense allegations of voter fraud in the 2020 Presidential Election. Like Superman when confronted with kryptonite, they cowered in fear of being the object of an angry Presidential tweet.
The AJC Editorial Board issued a stinging rebuke to them in their January 7, 2021 edition, declaring that their “irresponsible words nurtured insurrection.” They called out by name Senator Kelly Loeffler and Representatives Andrew Clyde, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Rick Allen, Jody Hice, and Barry Loudermilk. They continued, “We list your names to create a record for history. You owe Georgians an explanation. You supported with straight faces President Donald Trump’s careless assertions about the election he lost . . . .”
Every politician that refused to acknowledge President-elect Biden’s victory is culpable for what happened. Euphemisms carried the day in support of the ridiculous assertions of voter fraud. We were told that the process needed to play out; election integrity was at stake; every vote has to be legal.
Frivolous lawsuits abounded as the charade continued. Judges routinely dismissed these lawsuits and, in many cases, harshly rebuked the attorneys filing the bogus claims. Party affiliation became irrelevant as Republicans such as our own Secretary of State were attacked. State after state ratified their election results, but members of the losing party still refused to acknowledge President-elect Biden.
Politicians were not alone in sowing the seeds of this tragic day. Talking heads on television who continually regurgitated the spurious claims coming from the Oval Office joined the chorus. Even before the election those who wrote warning of voter fraud and attacking the mail-in ballot process were helping to pave the road that led us to this very sad day. And now, they are all scrambling to exonerate themselves of their roles in creating the conditions that led to this tragic chain of events.
The world looked on and lamented the assault on democracy that was taking place in the world’s greatest democracy. We are supposed to be a leader in the world, not an object of pity.
Words really do matter. Perhaps we would do well to consider words that I read yesterday. The writer posed that if we continually find ourselves having to declare that we are better than this—are we?