EDITORIAL: Truth and accountability are crucial for democracy | Editorial


OUR editorial page rarely ventures into national politics. Our first commitment is to our community, our region and the Commonwealth. Yet we do not exist in a vacuum.

The hearings of the select committee investigating the January 6 attack on the United States Capitol rightly demand our attention this Sunday.

The peaceful transfer of power is what has defined the United States since its inception. No other nation has done it so long and so well. It is the only tradition that we could all refer to and say, in this respect, that America is exceptional.

We can’t say that anymore. Donald Trump has rallied, incited and supported a host of insurgents to keep him in power, despite a landslide election defeat in the popular vote and Electoral College. And even today, he will not admit what has been proven many times over. He lost.

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There is no parallel in the history of the United States.

Power was transferred peacefully after the controversial election of 1800. Again after the election of 2000. Even the election of 1860 saw a peaceful transfer of power. “The Confederacy accepted the election results,” says Stephen Farnsworth, a professor at the University of Mary Washington, she just didn’t want to be part of a nation where Abraham Lincoln was president.

Thursday night’s hearing highlighted Trump’s un-American behavior.

Today we give our editorial space to the closing remarks of Illinois Republican and committee member Adam Kinzinger, who on Thursday evening, succinctly and clearly, explained what is at stake.

“Within minutes of leaving the Ellipsis stage, Donald Trump was aware of the violent attack on the Capitol. From the comfort of his dining room, he watched the escalating attack on television. He sent tweets that inflamed and expressed support for some people’s desire to literally kill Vice President Mike Pence. For three hours he refused to call off the attack.

“Donald Trump refused to take the urgent advice he received that day. Not from his political opponents or the liberal media, but from his own family, friends, staff and advisers. In the midst of an attack, when there was no time for politics, the people closest to Trump told him the truth It was his supporters who were attacking the Capitol, and only he could reach them.

“So they begged him to act. Place his country above himself. Yet he refused to lead and meet the moment to honor his oath. It wasn’t until the vice president and members of Congress found themselves in safe places, and the officers defending the Capitol began to turn the tide, that President Trump embarked on the political theater by telling the crowd to go home.

“And even then he told them all that they were ‘special’ and that he ‘loved’ them.

“Whatever your politics, whatever you think of the outcome of the election, we as Americans must all agree on that. Donald Trump’s conduct on January 6 was a supreme violation of his oath of office and a complete dereliction of duty to our nation.

“It is a stain on our history. It is a disgrace to all who have sacrificed and died in the service of our democracy. When we present our full findings, we will recommend changes to laws and policies to guard against against another January 6. The reason why this is imperative is that the forces that Donald Trump unleashed that day have not gone away.Militant and intolerant ideologies; militias; alienation and disaffection; weird fantasies and misinformation. They’re all still here and ready to go. It’s the elephant in the room.

“But if January 6 reminded us of something, I pray it reminds us. Laws are just words on paper. They mean nothing without public servants dedicated to the rule of law, and who are held accountable by a public that believes oaths matter more than party tribalism or the cheap thrill of scoring political points.

“We the people must demand more from our politicians and from ourselves.

“Oaths matter. Character matters. The truth matters. Unless we renew our faith and commitment to these principles, our great experience, that shining beacon on a hill, will not last.