The Rocket Miner editorial board met virtually on Wednesday as it typically does. There was talk about the results in the Georgia Senate runoffs resetting the dynamic in Congress and the pending certification of the Electoral College, but soon our attention turned to what lawmakers and other leaders should do during the presidential transition and beyond.
We didn’t realize a bigger obstacle was looming. Getting through the day wasn’t going to be as simple as many of us had assumed.
The gathering of protesters in D.C. had drawn a little of our attention, though President Donald Trump hadn’t yet addressed the crowd, repeated previously debunked claims about the election, and called on people to follow him to Congress before he instead retreated to the White House. After the meeting concluded, we kept our eyes on the proceedings and were horrified by what we saw.
Skirmishes between self-proclaimed Trump supporters and police grew more frequent and one-sided as law enforcement became overwhelmed. It was shocking when the Capitol’s defenses were breached, the building was thrown into lockdown mode, and tear gas and firearms were deployed to push back the violent rabble. Shots rang out. Blood was spilled.
On another day, flipping through the channels we may have mistaken the scenes of broken glass, drifting smoke and a wrathful mob for a low-budget thriller. Instead, we knew things were frighteningly real. We didn’t know then four people would die and more would be injured. We hadn’t yet heard the excuses people would make to justify the storming of those hallowed halls of our nation. We couldn’t know yet that the president would remain largely silent as people raged in his name. All we knew is that we were watching a transition of power like no other; hopefully one we never see again in our lifetimes. An unsettlingly long amount of time passed before we regained confidence the rule of law would reassert itself.
Usually we have an election, the votes are counted, discrepancies are reviewed and addressed, courts get involved in the rare cases they are needed, and then officials affirm the result. Typically the loser concedes to the winner as part of the American expectation that if and when the roles are reversed, the same grace and respect will be returned. A lot relies on that good faith assumption, and like removing a key support from a bridge, the disastrous consequences of its absence are on full display today.
After the needless and avoidable bloodshed and disruption concluded, Congress resumed its work to certify the Electoral College. Concerns and grievances were aired into the early hours, and in the victory of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris was certified. Of course, for many people, that isn’t the end of the 2020 election. Neither will the inauguration silence some critics. Many who pitted themselves against D.C. law enforcement and those who share a similar mind will continue to see the other side as the deplorable opposition. Lines have been drawn and the no man’s land in between has become a graveyard.
Having closely watched the developments of the last 24 hours, we return to the editorial notes from the preceding meeting.
“TIME TO WORK AS A TEAM TO GET THINGS DONE,” had been written in all caps, something done to highlight potential themes. The board had talked about the need to overcome petty squabbles and focus on more important matters and challenges.
Another highlighted note read, “Be part of the solution – not part of the problem.” It’s always easy to criticize or be an obstacle. More is required to make progress. We see a lot less compromise lately, even though we can enjoy its benefits for generations. Many are content to enjoy the fruits of what others have planted without doing any cultivation themselves. Those who follow us will have a harder trek if we aren’t willing to work hard and sacrifice today.
We believe the editorial board’s call to renewed action, reconciliation and cooperation is still important today. Honestly, its value is even more obvious. The tricky thing is that the road we need to travel is even longer than we previously thought. While Wednesday’s violence caused some people to pull together, it also pushed some parties further apart than ever before.
The path ahead to a better America is long, so much longer than we’d like, but it is indispensable that we seek to trace it. At times we may walk it alone. Other times we may travel in groups. We’re hopeful that we all seek the same goal of a more perfect union, even if our trails follow different paths.
Our nation has a rich history of rebuilding and restoring what once was broken. For the sake of our county and the loved ones who will inherit what we leave behind, we must find common ground, put aside the distractions that divide, and act like the Americans we want others to admire. To do any less, to follow any other path, is to leave our personal promise and potential unfulfilled.
Time to work as a team to get things done.