In an ordinary year, in normal times, Spring brings an air of renewal to D.C.
The cherry blossoms paint the city pretty pink. Students by the droves arrive for the hands-on civics lesson of witnessing their government in action. Chaperoned, they will walk through the Rotunda, Statuary Hall, and file quietly in and out of the Visitors’ Gallery hoping to spot their hometown Representative. The monuments shine. The memorials will awe and open eyes as wide as Jimmy Stewart’s in the 1939 film classic, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.
But this is not an ordinary year. These are not ordinary times.
The Capitol is covered in scaffolding as if they are a series of scars reminding us of the seditious assault on the temple of our Democracy on January 6th. When they are gone, we cannot – and should not – put January 6th in our rearview mirror. The attempt to thwart our Constitutional, legitimate Electoral College vote serves as a constant reminder of how fragile our freedoms are if left to the will of insurrectionists.
Congressional hearings will begin to bear out how this egregious assault came to be. They will expose the gaps evident in securing and protecting the workings of our democratic processes. At the same time, it is imperative that those extremists who may clothe themselves in the words of patriots are revealed and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
Recall the image of the Confederate Battle Flag waving through the halls of the people’s house – the first time in American history that a flag of the Confederacy entered the Capitol. It underscores the ludicrous claim of those insurrectionists that they are the true patriots.
Our system of self-government both failed and prevailed last January. It prevailed in the sense that the electoral votes were counted, continuing our two hundred plus years of history transferring power between democratically elected administrations.
But it wasn’t a peaceful transfer. The events of January 6th revealed that as our Decency Deficit deepens, anarchy rises proportionately. Anarchy doesn’t just happen. It is planned. It is orchestrated. It is incited.
Regardless, despite the gloom and doom, there is great promise here. Those young eyes and young minds will not accept a Green Zone for the home of their Democracy. High fences with razor wire bonnets are not their idea of liberty and freedom. Neither is the house of their Republic surrounded by thousands of National Guardsmen and women, Capitol, and metropolitan police.
The young and up-and-coming who will soon inherit our positions of power know that the status quo is unacceptable. Change will be demanded. The energy of these young people will make a difference in how we go forward in our experiment in American democracy. Bet on young energy.