Published in the Rio Rancho Observer Jan. 17, 2021
The horrifying scenes of the Jan. 6 attack on our nation’s Capitol are indelibly etched in our psyches.
Those powerful images of destruction and terror coming from within our populace will become iconic reminders of the pernicious consequences of hate and division, and will always remain emblems of the fragility of our democracy.
This attack was predictable. It was fomented by the president and other demagogues, such as Rudy Giuliani, with his call for “trial by combat” and by some members of Congress who skillfully exploit our differences when our leaders should be working toward finding common ground.
We as citizens have common needs, ranging from food, shelter and clothing to our desire for a better life for our families and ourselves. We attempt to make tomorrow a little better than today because this gives us a sense of well-being.
We will never fulfill these needs with riots, insurrection and division. We will never enjoy peace and prosperity if those who seek to overturn a free and fair election do not face justice.
Finding common ground is necessary to heal our divisions. As citizens, as leaders, as elected officials at all levels of government, it is our duty to make every attempt to achieve unity through truth and fact.
For those who attempt to disrupt our democracy, we must have accountability. The violent groups and their fomenters must be brought to justice and be made object lessons in the consequences of sedition. We must find out why the Capitol Police were woefully unprepared and why the National Guard was not on standby.
We must understand why the mob was allowed to walk out of the Capitol building and go about their day, taking selfies and congratulating themselves on a job well done while leaving death, destruction and despair in their wake.
We must understand why some members of Congress felt empowered to undermine the will of the people who cast their votes in good faith. We must send the unmistakable message that we will not tolerate those who seek to harm our country, destroy our democracy or desecrate American history.
President-elect Biden has affirmed that he will be the leader of all the people, whether they voted for him or not. It is my sincere hope that members of all parties will accept this olive branch.
Regardless of party, as responsible leaders in our community, we must constantly seek common ground and find ways to bridge our differences. Above all, we must use our stature as leaders responsibly, to lift up and unite.
(Leah Ahkee-Baczkiewicz is the Sandoval County Democratic Party vice-chairwoman.)