The assault January 6 on the U.S. Capitol by loyalists inspired and incited by President Trump was not a political protest. It was an act of sedition by individuals, some armed with military-style weapons, who believed and had cause to believe that they were carrying out the instructions of the nation’s highest office holder, and dozens of other elected officials, to “stop the steal.”
AJC was appalled and deeply saddened by the events of January 6, which brought bloodshed, mayhem, and dishonor to the temple of American democracy. Those who committed crimes must be held accountable – as must those who encouraged and hoped to benefit from them.
As America reflects on this shameful episode, AJC urges recognition of the following truths:
- There is no “steal.” The votes have been legally cast, counted, recounted, ruled valid by state and federal courts, upheld on appeal, adopted by the Electoral College, and certified by Congress. Exhaustive investigation has found no evidence of widespread fraud, as the nation’s senior law enforcement authorities have affirmed. The election wasn’t stolen. It was lost by the incumbent.
- President Trump did not, as he asserted on video during the Capitol siege, win the 2020 election by a “landslide,” nor does “the other side” know this. The other side and the fact-based world as a whole know that the President lost to former Vice President Biden by more than 7 million votes, and by an Electoral College margin of 306 to 232.
- The United States is a nation of laws, governed under a Constitution that has been the North Star for democratic movements around the world for more than two centuries. A bedrock principle of that Constitution and an emblem of the democracy it ensures is the peaceful transfer of power after the people have spoken. An incumbent who loses an election may exit gracefully, as most have done, or disgracefully, the option chosen by President Trump; either way, the laws and the American people call the tune, not the outgoing office-holder.
- This pandemic-ravaged, economically strained, politically polarized nation is in need of, and ready for, balanced, compassionate, competent leadership – to heal wounds suffered and revealed not just on January 6 but long in the making. Weaned from a diet of division and hate, it will rally to calls for unity.
- The American beacon of democracy will and must continue to shine, giving hope to those who strive for freedom in desperate corners of the world and posing an unrelenting challenge to tyrants. The events of January 6 are a reminder of the perils facing our own democracy – but they are equally a reminder of our obligation to overcome those perils not only for our sake but for the sake of all mankind.