year ago, on January 6, 2021, a mob of crazed insurrectionists
descended on the United States Capitol. Armed, angry and bent on
destruction, their goal was to overturn a legitimate election. The
world watched in horror as members of Congress cowered under their
seats in their chambers or crowded into "safe" rooms. The
country that touted itself as a bastion of democracy exhibited
behavior consistent with countries we disparagingly describe as
"banana republics. "There were no bananas in the Capitol
last January 6, but there sure were lots of nuts, determined to
overturn the results of a legitimate election.
of the insurrection have shifted since it happened, with many of the
very Republicans that feared for their lives now defending lawless
marauders as simply exercising their “free speech”
rights. It's a partisan thing, with most Democrats saying
insurrection and most Republicans claiming free speech. When your
free speech shatters windows, breaks down doors, and chases Capitol
employees in a place we all once considered sacred, that's not free
speech, it's tomfoolery. For the past several months, you've had
pundits wringing their hands and whining that democracy might be
destroyed. For some Americans, it was always broken.
invaded countries because some of their citizens did not have voting
rights while denying our very own citizens the same thing. From the
end of enslavement in 1865 until the passage of the Voting Rights Act
a century later, Black Americans have been denied the right to vote.
Even after the Voting Rights Act passed, Southern states passed laws
to make voting difficult for the formerly disenfranchised. And they
are still trying to make it difficult with dozens of states limiting
voting rights and gerrymandering districts to violate the principle
of one person, one vote.
brokenness in our democracy has its roots in the founders of our
nation's original sins of the appropriation of Indian land and
enslavement. The flaws in our founding included the ways enslaved
people were counted as fractions and how small states with tiny
populations had the same Senatorial representation as much larger
states. These accommodations were rooted in ensuring that the
minority had "equal" rights as the majority. One person,
one vote? Not in the United States Senate.
folks caterwauling about a broken democracy ought to have been
hollering and changing laws when Black voters were sidelined. They
ought to have been looking at gerrymandering long before now. People
like to blame the forty-fifth President for the broken state of our
democracy, but the odious power-hungry former leader stood on a stage
that others built for him. Predatory capitalists of both parties
weakened unions, lowered taxes on the wealthy, turned prisons into
the kind of profit centers that they were post-Reconstruction. Decent
legislators often sold their principles for reelection, and some, in
either party, are now pawns of corporate interests.
is easy to point the finger at the DINOs (Democrats in Name Only)
like Krysten Sinema (D-AZ) and Joe Manchin (D-WV), but they aren't
the only senators who are reluctant to stand up to their corporate
masters. And why aren't more Senators more vocal about voting rights.
Voting rights legislation should have been among the first things
passed during this senate session, not one that people have to twist
arms to pass.
Republicans who maintain a shred of decency (Tim Scott (SC) and Susan
Collins (ME) are examples) know right from wrong, but they don't mind
being wrong. They are more about power than principle. They don't
seem to care that our democracy is broken, as long as their party can
hold sway. They averted their eyes from the insurrection, implicitly
approving of it. They've made the destruction of our nation's Capitol
a partisan issue when it needs to be a moral one.
admire those members of Congress who are truth-seekers and
truth-tellers, like Mississippi Congressman Bennie Thompson and
Maryland’s Jamie Raskin. Republican Liz Cheyney has possibly
ended her political career by telling the truth about the former
President's role on January 6. Some of the passionate members of the
Congressional Black Caucus like Maxine Waters and Sheila Jackson Lee
don't tolerate Republican chicanery. Some of the newer members, like
Alexandra Ocasio Cortez and Cori Bush, challenge those inside and
outside their party.
be clear, though. Our democracy has always been broken. It's been
flawed from its foundation. Can it be repaired? Possibly, but not in
this climate. Not unless Democrats decide to grow backbones and learn
how to fight. Not likely.