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The US Capitol riot hearings shouldn’t be about partisan politics

If America doesn’t properly reckon with the events of 6 January 2021, its democracy may never come back.

By Emily Tamkin

WASHINGTON DC – I am 32 years old. This means that I have legally been allowed to vote for 14 years. In that time, I do not think I have ever voted for a Republican. I am telling you this to acknowledge that I have bias; this Friday newsletter is written by a person who believes that the US federal government’s role should be about trying to help the least fortunate among us.

I am also telling you this because it is both my hope and belief that if a Democrat legitimately lost an election and claimed that, actually, they won it, I would no longer support that person. Because as much as I want Democrats to win, greater than that, I want to continue to live in a democratic republic. That should be about something larger than a party, bigger than political affiliation. There was a time that I would have hoped that Republican leadership would have done the same. But that time has passed. 

The US Capitol riot hearings in Congress are in motion. Will they be able to definitively prove the former president Donald Trump’s claim that he won an election he lost led to the building’s storming on 6 January 2021? I don’t know. Trump’s lawyer asked to be put on a pardon list. Trump reportedly said that maybe his vice-president, Mike Pence, deserved to be hanged. Do we consider this “not legal”? That is, respectfully, above my paygrade.

What is not above my paygrade is this: You accept the results of elections or you don’t. You believe that all American citizens 18 years of age or older have the right to cast their ballot or you don’t. You believe that the American people choose their president or you don’t.

And if you don’t, that’s your choice. We all make choices all the time. But let us not pretend that the issue, as some Republican politicians have suggested, is that we are having a hearing on an attempted maybe-coup when we should be having one on gas prices. Gas prices go up and down. Our democracy, once gone, is maybe never coming back.

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This article first appeared in the World Review newsletter. It comes out on Mondays and Fridays; subscribe here.

[See also: What the US Capitol riot hearings teach us about the slow decay of political norms]

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