Like so many of you I’ve watched the events of the last week in horror.
I have not watched them in shock, I have long thought that violence would erupt during this transfer of power. I have seen the signs – the increasing violence, the rise in the acceptance of hate, racism, antisemitism and sexism. The armed militias, the increasing desperate cries, the willingness to use lies to justify behavior.
I have watched in sadness as I saw the Capitol sieged in an attempted coup, I watched people who claim to support law and order chase, threaten and kill police officers, I watched those who claim to love the freedoms of America desecrate its hallowed halls.
For a long time I have called for unity and civility, talking about the only way out of our partisan bubbles is to truly listen to each other. I believe that now more than ever because that is the only way we will prevent our children from falling into the partisan trap so many of us have fallen into.
But there are limits to civility – treason and sedition are beyond that limit.
If you watched the siege and somehow saw people trailing a confederate flag through the Capitol as anything other than a sad day for America - you need to reread the Constitution and perhaps some of the Federalists papers to understand the meaning of our freedoms.
If you saw members of Congress in gas masks hiding in fear for their lives and cheered on the rioters – you are enabling sedition.
If you saw the events unfolding and didn’t ask why the defenders of the Capitol were so small in number, so ill-armed and so unprepared unlike the times that rape victims and minorities came in peaceful protest - you need to really explore this nation’s history of inherent bias.
If you voted for Trump but hated his tweets and hated his tone you cannot take back your vote, but you can denounce these actions and you can reach across the aisle to help rebuild unity. You can help quash the falsehoods and anger coming from the Right.
For those, like me, who have consistently opposed Trump and the hatred that his supporters sow, we must remember that unity is not conformity. Democracy requires differences of opinion, it requires us to bridge the gap between those differing opinions to make us stronger.
When friends and neighbors say they support equality but also support law enforcement we need to talk about how both are possible. When friends say free speech is violated in decrying Twitter’s ban of Trump remind them that they celebrated that same action when a baker refused to bake a wedding cake for a gay wedding. We can disagree with actions and still respect the laws that protect those actions.
We can demand civics and critical thinking lessons in our schools so that our children don’t fall prey to a hyper partisanship that creates its own truth and its own litmus test. That is the future we must build now.
The divides are clear – the extreme actions have literally and figuratively ripped the masks off our worst selves – the paths to unity will be difficult but necessary work. We have a 2 year window of full Democratic control in which to build bridges and advance policy that will help all Americans.