Democracy is fragile. Will we nurture it?

See Disclaimer. This article is dedicated to the Capitol and DC Police officers who defended Democracy on January 6, at heavy personal cost of injury and even death.

A week ago, in an egregious attack on Democracy, a mob violently stormed the US Capitol. At the call and incitement of a sitting US president, they sought to disrupt, and somehow reverse, the Congressional certification of the electoral victory of his successor. Rioters penetrated deep into the Capitol buildings, caused injuries and loss of life, and temporarily halted the joint session of Congress. They reflect America at its worst, but they ultimately failed.

Congress got back into session, the same day and in the same Capitol. The victory of the next President and Vice President was duly certified, in a dignified, orderly and effective manner overseen by the sitting Vice-President. Meritless oppositions were raised to the results in two states, but were overwhelmingly dismissed in the Senate, and (more modestly) in the House.

Political leaders from both sides of the aisle stood tall in ensuring that the will of the People, as expressed by the States, was validated. Those leaders showed courage, endurance, and commitment to our Constitution and institutions—reflecting America at its best.

Bruised but strengthened, our Democracy endures.

The rioters are being identified and charged, broad-range criminal investigations are being conducted, and the president was impeached by the House for Incitement of Insurrection—and now waits Senate trial. The Republican party searches for its soul, while the Democratic party has the opportunity to control both the Executive and (in a razor-thin manner) Legislative branches of the government.

It is in this unsettled context that the nation prepares for the Inauguration of the next President. Unsurprisingly, uncomfortable questions linger, many raised out of political or safety concerns. Even so, for most Americans there is a palpable sense of relief, and hope for a renewed opportunity to trust our government and to collectively build a better nation and future.

These sentiments are captured well by ‘Conan the Barbarian’ and the ‘Terminator’—or, as you may know them, the former Republican Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger: ‘[N]o matter what your political affiliation is, I ask you to join me in saying […] “President Elect Biden, we wish you great success as our president. If you succeed, our nation succeeds. We support you with all our hearts as you seek to bring us together.” […]’

And coming together we must, if we want our Democracy to thrive rather than barely endure or even collapse. Mr. Biden, the next and duly elected President, is an extremely well-suited leader for this perilous moment in History—because of his inherent decency, vast experience, patriotism, and genuine drive for unity.

To succeed on our behalf, though, President Biden will need support. New bipartisan and constructive support from a Congress willing to confirm his nominees, and to work collaboratively with him to address pressing crises in public health, economy, social justice, and so many other areas. But support also from a citizenry newly committed to being informed, fair, tolerant and patient.

We now know first-hand how fragile our Democracy is. Are we ready and willing to nurture it?

— Antonio Baptista

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