Holding Traitors Accountable

With political writing there’s always the feeling that it needs to be timely, and there needs to be something new said – a new insight, a new analysis, a new call to action. Thinking about the insurrection at the capitol, it felt to me that I had nothing new to add. That better thinkers and writers than I am have already said what needed to be said. But the discussion at a recent meeting of the Cortland County Democratic Committee made me realize that there’s power to standing up and having our voices counted. To being one among many that see the truth and add our voices to calls for justice and accountability.

Despite living through the last four years, despite knowing and having ample evidence that Trump would “not go quietly into that good night,” I  think for many of us it was still a shock to see the halls of the Capital invaded and witness an actual attempted coup on our democracy. That our president would incite such action, even former President Trump, and that Republican Congresspeople would seek to overturn a free and fair election, and that white supremacists would seek to overthrow our democracy was hard for even the pessimistic cynics among us to imagine. But here we are, and the reality is this moment can not be allowed to slip quietly away unnoted.

We hear calls for unity and working together, but forgiveness only truly comes after repentance. You can’t forgive those who don’t admit they’ve wronged you. You can’t work with those who refuse to take responsibility for their actions. Their actions which anyway you look at it, were treasonous. People equate this moment with Hitler’s rise to power, but the reality is this moment is much like the period of Reconstruction after the Civil War.

The Confederacy sought to secede from the Union. They went to war with their our country, an act of sedition and treason much like the storming of the capital. And after Lincoln’s assassination, after the Confederacy lost the war, they were never held accountable. They were allowed to enact Black Code laws, and later Jim Crow laws. They were allowed to continue to subjugate, control, and oppress freed slaves. They lynched thousands. They practiced segregation, subjecting blacks to violence, a lack of equity and freedom that has continued through to today. The Confederacy was not held accountable then and that’s why we find ourselves here now – faced with a powerful white supremacist movement, police brutality directed toward our BIPOC community, and institutional racism. Without Democrats standing up now and saying no more we cannot create a new and better union. People who commit treasonous acts, who attempt to overthrow our democracy, and who commit acts of hate, whether they are former Presidents, congresspeople, or anyone else, must be held accountable.

If our values truly are compassion, the common good, justice, equality, inclusion, stewardship, and knowledge, then we must always stand up, speak out, and hold accountable those who have committed acts against our democracy.