Yesterday was a disgrace, but we're a day closer to a new and better chapter of American history
- The riot at Capitol Hill inspired by President Trump was disgraceful, but we're another day closer to a new chapter of American history.
- I remain optimistic that it will be a better one.
- This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.
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Like millions of Americans and people around the world, I was appalled — but unfortunately not altogether surprised — by the disgrace of Trump's mob storming the US Capitol building.
I was also dismayed by the difference between the police presence and response to this attack and the Black Lives Matter demonstrations last summer. (I don't necessarily blame the officers on the scene, who seemed overwhelmed, but there are still many unanswered questions about why they were so unprepared and why help took so long to arrive.)
Today, I am relieved that order has been restored and the certification of our next president completed. And I hope and expect that the anti-American thugs who overran the Capitol will be prosecuted.
Those who excuse or seek to explain the Trump mob's actions often mention his supporters' "real frustrations" with the election outcome. This is no excuse. Almost half of Americans are frustrated after every election. In 2016, tens of millions of Americans who voted for Hillary Clinton were beyond frustrated that she lost. But they didn't storm the Capitol in an attempt to overthrow the election and our democracy. And Clinton didn't incite their anger with lies and then retreat to the safety of her home to watch their thuggery on TV.
Many Americans who are frustrated that Trump lost, moreover, are frustrated because they have been lied to again and again by the people they trust — most notably Trump, some members of Congress, and some members the media. They've been lied to about the election result, our democratic process, and the motives of the people who disagree with them. As Republican Sen. Mitt Romney bravely said last night, the way to respect the people you lead is not to tell them lies they want to hear. It's to be honest with them.
We have lived through a lot of distressing history together in the past few years. It has not been easy, and it is not likely to become easy. But despite yesterday's ugliness, we are another day closer to the next chapter. And despite the many challenges we face as a country, I remain optimistic that it will be a better and less-divisive one.
One of the many lessons of the Trump era is that truth matters. Facts matter. Science matters. Respect and decency matter. Justice matters. Progress and innovation matter. And firm resolve and persistence in the face of adversity matter.
Hundreds of millions of Americans — many of whom disagree about various government policy approaches — deeply support these values. And we will continue to do so, no matter what new challenges we face in the coming days.
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