I am a student of history and human behavior.  I am the sole college educated member of my working class family who consider me a “radical liberal” and elitist.  Clearly, they have aligned with right wing media who have branded those who share my political and social leanings.

Like many Americans, I am outraged by the violent attack on our Capitol, in the name of patriotism, but recognize it for what it is.  While it was fomented by conspiratorial elements in our government, social media, and dangerous fringe groups, there is no conspiracy in believing that it was a heinous assault on our democratic process and the rule of law.  We must see it for what it is.

There are those among us who threaten to destroy the fabric of this nation.  Truth be told, these events are evidence that we are a nation, deeply divided, and that our republic, “if we can keep it,” remains vulnerable from within.  It seems that the countermeasure to this threat is to assess how we got here, address the etiological factors, and commit to every possible measure to strengthen our democracy.  This includes a better understanding of our nation’s ills.

While it is easy to dismiss the insurrectionists as thugs and misfits, let us consider that they may be a consequence of a society that has left them behind; sons and daughters of poverty, a failed education or mental health system, joblessness, technology, or social change, who perceive themselves as victims with few options.  Clearly, Trump has played them, and seduced them into aligning with his own pathological view of victimization, manipulated them for his own political gain.  That said, the villains of the recent insurrection are a threat to our democratic way of life, and must be accountable for their actions.  We cannot allow laws to be violated, elections to be overturned by mobs, and the tenets of our Constitution to be defiled.

As a people, we must recognize the inequities in our society, and the deleterious impact on our citizens.  If democracy is to survive into the next century, we must begin to address the consequences of economic disparity, racism, social injustice, hopelessness, and diminished opportunity, and mitigate these pernicious forces.   Despite the historic roots of these problems, and contemporary factors that reinforce them, we must face the challenges of the future with new hope and commitment.

We need to work together to protect our democracy, and human rights, and to condemn the voices of division.  We must also demand that our elected officials return civility to government and maintain their oath of office to protect our Constitution.  Anything less is a betrayal of their country, voter rights, and the bedrock of a democratic nation.

Claire Walsh, a social worker, lives in Deep River.

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