We are still in grave danger of losing our democracy #OurFreedomsOurVote
January 6, 2023, marked the second anniversary of an armed attack on the U.S. Capitol. This event was the most blatant and violent effort to overturn our democracy since the Civil War. The sitting President of the United States urged on this attack. This insurrection failed because some acted to thwart this effort. Some acted heroically -- especially members of the Capitol Police, the Metropolitan Police, and a handful of key officials. These included the Vice President, who refused to reject the votes of legally certified electors.
In response, a bipartisan January 6th Select Committee gathered a huge amount of evidence from a wide array of sources. Evidence showed conclusively that President Donald Trump and his allies fomented a conspiracy to overturn an election they knew they’d lost. Besides summarizing key evidence, the committee made key recommendations to protect our nation going forward.
The threat to our democracy didn’t end with the insurrectionists’ failure to stop the peaceful transfer of Presidential power on January 6, 2021. An alarming number people denied the reality and importance of the insurrection and the underlying conspiracy. Some of those in Congress lost their midterms. Even so, they and many others are hard at work to subvert the will of voters at all levels of government. They are trying to change state laws, threaten state officials, and suppress voting. They also seek to pack election offices to have the final say over the results of election – even when they lose. All of this violates the oaths that elected and appointed officials take. Those who take federal office, whether civilian or military, pledge to ‘support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.’ State and local oaths have the same essence, with variations for authority or duties.
We are still in grave danger of losing our democracy. In the end, how the majority of people respond will save or lose our democracy. In 2022 elections, many election officials acted heroically despite harassment. Millions of citizens overcame efforts to keep them from voting. Vast sums were spent and great efforts were made to spread lies and skew results. In many cases, only a tiny margin of votes decided elections. Great danger remains for our future.
Recognizing these concerns, a pro-democracy coalition created a nationwide program of rallies for January 6, 2023. These events called for accountability for the ongoing attacks on our democracy. They also called for protecting our elections and our basic freedom to vote.
These concerns loom especially large for many of us who served in uniform or who took an oath of elective office. As a 30-year Navy officer who served in the combat theaters of Vietnam and Desert Storm, as well as in one major peacekeeping operation, this all takes on a very personal aspect. As a student in 1967, I visited the village of Dachau with a German family who had lived there during World War II, when the death camp was operating. They denied knowing anything about what was happening. Later studies I made about the death camps made it clear that no one living within miles of the place could not have known that something very wrong was happening there. In 1968, when I took the oath to support and defend the Constitution as a Navy officer, I took it without reservation. It has never expired. Across my Navy career I visited and worked in nations where democracy as we’ve enjoyed it had failed or never existed. In Bosnia and Croatia, I saw the horrific results of people being divided and pitted against each other by lies created and spread by people who put their selfish interests above those of their people. In recent years, I’ve seen our nation moving far too much in that direction. So, for me, doing something on this January 6 wasn’t a matter of choice. Happy to say, others felt similarly. So, a few of us acted to hold an event in Anniston, Alabama. It was a great honor to have two retired judges participate and share their thoughts publicly. One was federal and one county. Both had served in the US armed forces. Other veterans also participated or helped set things up. We see this as an extension of our oath and a patriotic duty.
Let’s join hands and go forward! For everyone’s sake!
Jim Williams, Community Volunteer