Tyler Merbler CC BY 2.0,

This week we mark the anniversary of the January 6 Insurrection.  As an American, I continue to be disturbed by the shameless denials and persistent lies, as well as the assertions of conspiracy theories, perpetuated by many legislators in Congress.

As the House committee on Jan. 6 investigates a trail of information relevant to the planning and execution of events on that historic day, those involved continue to obstruct every measure of accountability, and in fact, betray their Constitutional Oath to uphold the rule of law.  It seems that they will do anything to ensure their power, including undeterred allegiance to a corrupt former president who lost a fair and secure election, and whose treasonous rhetoric fostered a coup.  Further, there is clear evidence of his dereliction of duty during the insurrection as the Capitol Police engaged in a brutal battle for their lives and a prolonged effort to protect the Republic.  Despite repeated protests and desperate pleas from his own party leadership to end the violence, it continued for over three hours.

There is no question that the insurrection was a historic event motivated by a ruthless greed for power, and orchestrated by those bent on creating an authoritarian state.  Clearly, we were dangerously close to losing our democracy if they had succeeded.   It now rests with the January 6 committee to secure the facts and to reveal them to the American people.  From my perch, I view the insurrection through the lens of cultural and societal norms, and how these factors will impact on our determination for the truth.  More specifically, will we perceive the insurrection as just one more act of violence, or recognize it for what it is, a direct assault on our democracy?  Moreover, will we comprehend the vital necessity of completing the investigation to avoid another insurrection, or to hold the planners and participants accountable?

As Americans, we live in a culture of violence, punctuated by mass shootings, drug-related crime, domestic violence against women and children, and an increase in murder and suicide by firearms.  An alarming consequence of this behavior is to develop a high tolerance for violence and to unwittingly accept this behavior as “normal.”

As we face the 2022 Midterm Elections, we have an opportunity for reflection and self-assessment.  The urgency of the climate crisis, the devastation of a global pandemic, the bifurcation of our values and beliefs, and the toxic political divide seem to demand it.

We must begin to assess who we are as a country, and what we want from our elected leaders.  We have a choice to reject the lies and malevolent forces that seek to destroy our democracy, or to stand up for the values on which this country was founded.  Each vote is critical to this outcome.

Lies and conspiracy theories are the genesis of a failing democracy and are a function of autocratic power.  They are manipulated to engender fear, demand loyalty,  and to divide a nation.  Those who oppose the autocratic system, and fail to demonstrate loyalty, typically face harsh penalties.  Democracy  depends on fair and secure elections, and the right to vote is protected.  In recent months we have seen a disturbing increase in legislation to suppress and nullify the vote in states with a Republican majority.  This is an existential threat to our democracy and underscores the need to protect the vote with federal legislation.

Midterm elections in 2022 may determine the future course of this nation.  Depending on who wins the majority in the House and the Senate, we could see the embrace of right-wing ideology, an increase in extremism, and the ultimate collapse of democracy.  The politicization of the Supreme Court, and the threat to Roe. vs. Wade is clear evidence of this.  We might  also see the end of the January 6 investigation and the search for truth.  History would be rewritten.  Sadly, this will result in grave consequences for our nation, with democracy perpetually undermined by the Big Lie, and in time, subverted to autocratic rule.  The decision is ours.

History will be rewritten.

Claire M. Walsh lives in Killingworth.