Hello, I’m Veronica Escobar, Congresswoman for the 16th district of Texas. I wanted to take a few minutes to address the tragic events of January 6th, a day that should not have been about an uncontroversial but historic process: Congress’s constitutional obligation to certify the results of the 2020 presidential election – which President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris won, decisively.
First, I want to extend my sincerest condolences to the family of United States Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who was killed in the line of duty — bludgeoned to his death with a fire extinguisher as he tried to defend our democracy and protect the Capitol and all of us inside. Other members of Capitol Police were also seriously injured, and as we await news on their status, I want to extend my sympathy to their families who should not have to be living through this pain.
Also, I want to thank El Pasoans for your words of kindness, for sending me so much love and support. Your concern for me, my colleagues, and everyone who works at the Capitol meant so much to me, and I am grateful for every message, email, and phone call. You gave me great comfort and provided me further inspiration and determination to go back into that House chamber and finish the work we’d started that day.
All of America, and the world, witnessed a deadly insurrection that was inspired and incited by President Donald J. Trump and his enablers in Congress, enablers who prey on those who are too willing to believe conspiracies and lies. While each and every individual who plotted and engaged in the violence and chaos that led to the siege of the Capitol must be identified and criminally charged, there should be no doubt that Donald Trump and the lawmakers responsible for bringing America to her knees must also be held accountable.
This is the second domestic terrorist attack I have personally lived through, and I will say again what I said on August 3, 2019: words have consequences, and I hold Donald Trump responsible for the words he uses to fuel hate, sow division, and spread lies that have led to America’s darkest days.
My colleagues and I have called on Vice President Mike Pence and the Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment and protect us from a man who is a dangerous national security risk; but in case there is an absence of courage on that front, I also am co-leading articles of impeachment against Donald Trump in order to remove him from office and prevent him from sullying the office of the President ever again. We need to exercise every constitutional option we have to prevent further destruction to the United States of America.
Beyond the immediate and urgent need to protect our country from additional imminent threats, we need to acknowledge the longer-term threat and that is the frailty of our democracy.
During the impeachment process in late 2019, I repeatedly said that the constitution is only a piece of paper unless we believe it, live it, and hold ourselves accountable to it.
The tragedy of January 6th didn’t begin that day — that day was an unfortunate and expected outcome of years of misinformation, conspiracies, and lies spread by millions of Americans who have placed one man above our Republic and our democracy.
The damage done is profound. Our country is still under assault from within, and this is a tragedy that weakens us, puts each and every one of us at risk, and emboldens our enemies — those domestic and abroad.
So how do repair the damage?
We must do a better job of teaching our history because we have seen how doomed we are every time we repeat it; we must teach the value and importance of our Constitution and the truth behind the work our Founding Fathers did to protect us from tyranny, authoritarianism, and to protect us from ourselves; and, we must do what we can at every turn to expose and reject the misinformation intended to destroy our country.
On January 6th, my beloved friend and colleague, Congressman Jamie Raskin, a constitutional scholar who was trapped in the House Chamber with me and others — showed up to argue against the objections to certify the election despite the fact that he had just lost his son days before. He set his grief aside to remind us of what was at stake.
He reminded us that President John Adams, after transferring power to his successor said that we are a government of laws, not of men – and women – adding: “We will betray this principle if we trade a government of laws for a government of men or, even worse, a single man, or an impressionable and dangerous mob intent on violent sedition and insurrection against our beloved democratic Republic.”
We have the greatest democracy in the world. And we are privileged to live in the United States of America, but with that privilege comes an obligation to ensure that the democracy we inherited is protected and passed on to our children.
Those of us who live in El Paso have the added privilege of living in a community that has set the example during times of crisis time and again: And what El Pasoans do is take care of one another. Let’s continue to do that, and let’s take care of our country as well. God bless each and every one of you and God bless America.
Editor’s Note: The above guest column was penned by U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar of El Paso, Texas. The column first appeared in an e-newsletter put out by the representative’s office. It appears in The Rio Grande Guardian with the permission of the author.
Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying the above guest column shows U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar. (Photo credit: CNN)
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