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U.S. Rep. Ron Kind: January 6, One Year Later

From the COLLECTION: Columns, letters from weekend Opinion pages series
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On the morning of January 6, 2021, I was getting ready to defend Wisconsin’s election results on the House floor during the certification of the Electoral College votes. By the afternoon, the worst assault on the U.S. Capitol since the War of 1812 would be unfolding with our democracy at risk.

January 6 was one of our nation’s darkest days. Violent insurrectionists tried to impede Congress’s Constitutional mandate to validate the election and launched an attack on the Capitol that left law enforcement officers hurt, people dead, and Americans everywhere in disbelief. All in an effort to overthrow a fair and free election.

A year later, I worry that our democracy is still in a perilous place. Rather than reject the Big Lie that the 2020 election was “stolen”, many leaders have continued to repeat this conspiracy theory and promote an alternate reality where facts don’t matter. The Big Lie wasn’t true then, and it’s not true now.

When you start debasing our elections, you’re convincing people to lose confidence in one of the most basic and fundamental cornerstones of our democratic institutions that should unite us all—the sanctity of the ballot box. The Big Lie gave rise to the insurrection on January 6 and by continuing to push it, we’re testing the guardrails of our democracy.

Immediately after the attack, even Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy condemned President Trump’s role in inciting the insurrection. But now, there are those who would like to downplay the insurrection and sweep it under the rug, including Derrick Van Orden who is once again running to represent Wisconsin’s 3rd Congressional District.

Van Orden attended the insurrection and breached a restricted area on the Capitol grounds while the attack was underway. He has since lied about his involvement despite clear evidence of his participation. Van Orden is just one of many candidates across the nation who are running for office after attending the violent insurrection, apparently hoping folks will forget that shameful day. However, like most Wisconsinites, I won’t forget.

I won’t forget the law enforcement officers who were brutalized that day and those who died as a result of the attack. I won’t forget the lies and unfounded accusations that were spread in an effort to undermine faith in our elections. But above all else, I won’t forget my belief in our democracy and my conviction that it’s worth fighting for.

I applaud the bipartisan House January 6 Committee for their work to shed light on this day and get the American people the answers they deserve. Thanks to the Committee, we now know that for over three hours then-president Trump watched the attack on our nation’s Capitol and refused to defend our government, even though family members and close allies were begging him to do so. I’m sure there’s more information to come.

But we all have a role to play in healing our democracy and making sure something like this never happens again. We’re not Democrats, Republicans, and more—we’re Americans. Together, we must put country over party, and swear allegiance to our Constitution and the rule of law to continue to work towards a more perfect union.

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