9:00 AM THE PRESIDENT and THE VICE PRESIDENT deliver remarks to mark one year since the January 6th deadly assault on the Capitol
National Statuary Hall, United States Capitol
Excerpt from Remarks as Prepared for Delivery by President Biden to Mark One Year Since the January 6th Deadly Assault on the Capitol
And so at this moment we must decide what kind of nation we are going to be.
Are we going to be a nation that accepts political violence as a norm?
Are we going to be a nation where we allow partisan election officials to overturn the legally expressed will of the people?
Are we going to be a nation that lives not by the light of the truth but in the shadow of lies?
We cannot allow ourselves to be that kind of nation.
The way forward is to recognize the truth and to live by it.
“This has to be a period of remembrance, of reconciliation…Lincoln said, ‘With malice toward none, with charity toward all.’ We have to extend the hand of friendship.”
— Speaker Nancy Pelosi in an exclusive interview with the Associated Press
“In a preview of the President’s remarks, [White House press secretary Jen] Psaki said Biden will also ‘push back on the lie spread by the former President and attempt to mislead the American people and his own supporters as well as distract from his role and what happened.’”
The events of last January 6 were the manifestation of the symptoms.
Here are two ways of describing the actual disease, which remains the biggest (but not only) threat to our body politic:
1. Peter Baker in the New York Times, with no overstatement:
Today, it has become heresy among conservatives to question Mr. Trump’s legacy. The cabinet secretaries and White House aides who resigned in protest of his role in the violence now largely keep to themselves. Many corporations that vowed to halt donations to Republican lawmakers who voted to overturn the election have quietly reopened the contribution spigot. The congressional Republicans who angrily denounced the president after their headquarters was invaded have gone silent or even made the pilgrimage to Mar-a-Lago, all but pretending it never happened…..
While nearly three-quarters of all Americans view the storming of the Capitol as an assault on democracy, about half of Republicans say the rioters were actually the ones “protecting democracy” and nearly as many think the attack was not even that violent. While most Americans believe Mr. Biden was elected legitimately, seven in 10 Republicans think otherwise.
2. Rebecca Solnit, also in the New York Times, with only mild overstatement:
[M]ainstream figures in the center and the left are not pushing radically counterfactual stuff akin to the conservative lies about Covid-19, let alone trying to instigate or whitewash the kind of violence we saw on Jan. 6. Democrats operate on the basis of reasonably factual premises and usually accept the authority of science, law and history, while Republicans uninhibitedly push whatever’s most convenient for their goals and incendiary for their base.
Those pieces are both essential reading, as are twin articles in the Times and the Washington Post detailing the current extreme hold that Donald J. Trump has on the Republican Party, even after (or, frighteningly, because of) the events of 1/6/21.
Two more essential reads from a pair of men of the South who are both fundamentally different and more similar than commonly thought: Karl Rove and Jimmy Carter.
First, Rove, writing simply and bravely in his weekly Wall Street Journal column:
[T]here were several thousand protesters willing to use force to disrupt Congress in its constitutional duty to receive and certify the electoral vote. Some went to Washington with that purpose in mind. Others were swept up in the moment’s savagery, led astray by stronger wills with dangerous motives.
The leaders of this group were intent on committing violence, some having planned to do so for weeks. Many wore tactical gear. Some came armed with chemical agents, flagpoles, batons and sticks. They broke through barricades and assaulted approximately 140 police officers, in some cases with an officer’s own shield or gear. They smashed doors and windows, illegally entered the Capitol, ransacked offices and searched for leaders of Congress, and made dire threats about what would happen if they found them….
If Democrats had done what some Trump supporters did on that violent Jan. 6, Republicans would have criticized them mercilessly and been right to do so. Republicans would have torched any high official who encouraged violence or stood mute while it was waged and been right to do so. Republicans would have demanded an investigation to find who was responsible for the violence and been right to do so.
To move beyond Jan. 6, 2021, we must put country ahead of party. For Democrats, that means resisting their leadership’s petty habit of aggravating partisan fault lines by indiscriminately condemning all who came to Washington that day.
We Republicans have a heavier burden. I’ve been a Republican my entire life, and believe in what the Republican Party, at its best, has represented for decades. There can be no soft-pedaling what happened and no absolution for those who planned, encouraged and aided the attempt to overthrow our democracy. Love of country demands nothing less. That’s true patriotism.
Now, Carter, with a list that should be embraced by all of us, including Republican members of Congress:
First, while citizens can disagree on policies, people of all political stripes must agree on fundamental constitutional principles and norms of fairness, civility and respect for the rule of law. Citizens should be able to participate easily in transparent, safe and secure electoral processes. Claims of election irregularities should be submitted in good faith for adjudication by the courts, with all participants agreeing to accept the findings. And the election process should be conducted peacefully, free of intimidation and violence.
Second, we must push for reforms that ensure the security and accessibility of our elections and ensure public confidence in the accuracy of results. Phony claims of illegal voting and pointless multiple audits only detract from democratic ideals.
Third, we must resist the polarization that is reshaping our identities around politics. We must focus on a few core truths: that we are all human, we are all Americans and we have common hopes for our communities and our country to thrive. We must find ways to re-engage across the divide, respectfully and constructively, by holding civil conversations with family, friends and co-workers and standing up collectively to the forces dividing us.
Fourth, violence has no place in our politics, and we must act urgently to pass or strengthen laws to reverse the trends of character assassination, intimidation and the presence of armed militias at events. We must protect our election officials — who are trusted friends and neighbors of many of us — from threats to their safety. Law enforcement must have the power to address these issues and engage in a national effort to come to terms with the past and present of racial injustice.
Lastly, the spread of disinformation, especially on social media, must be addressed. We must reform these platforms and get in the habit of seeking out accurate information. Corporate America and religious communities should encourage respect for democratic norms, participation in elections and efforts to counter disinformation.
Our great nation now teeters on the brink of a widening abyss. Without immediate action, we are at genuine risk of civil conflict and losing our precious democracy. Americans must set aside differences and work together before it is too late.
As I have said all week, we must make 1/6 a day of national unity, not division.
Kudos to Rove and Carter for helping lead the way on this occasion.
But until we collectively address the disease, we are consigned to the dread acceptance that the loudest and most extreme voices on the national town square will define our politics and determine our shared fate.
Let’s not let that happen.
Let’s have The Presumption of Grace guide us today and going forward.
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