A constant threat to our fragile democracy

Published 2:09 pm Saturday, January 15, 2022

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By Chris Quilpa

Where were you that day a year ago? If you saw what happened that day, how did you feel? Mixed emotions? Sad and mad? Upset and frustrated? Ashamed? Thankful? Fearful?

Lots of questions and speculations abound in the minds of different people who witnessed that day. Why did it happen? Did anyone have knowledge of what is going to happen prior to that event? Was that day pre-planned, or unexpected? Who is to blame; who is responsible and accountable for that day?

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What lesson or lessons can we learn from that day so it won’t happen again? That no one is above the law? That democracy is fragile and, therefore, all law-abiding citizens must cherish and protect it if they want to live free, to enjoy the fruits of liberty?

The world witnessed in horror the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and also saw what happened on Jan. 6 last year, at the U.S. Capitol, in Washington, D.C.

Jan. 6, 2021, was an unforgettable day in the modern history of the United States of America. It was unthinkable and unbelievable. That violent uprising became deadly and dangerous — so dangerous that the citadel of democracy, the U.S. Capitol, was under siege. That day, democracy was tested, shattered, and shaken.

Unlike the historic Sept. 11 attack perpetrated by foreign militant terrorists on American soil, the Jan. 6 insurrection on the U.S. Capitol was perpetrated domestically by groups of Americans who were trying to undermine our constitutional democratic process — the peaceful transfer of power.

When protesters or rioters breached the U.S. Capitol, members of Congress, the senators and representatives, and the former vice president, were convening to ratify the results and proclaim the winner of the 2020 presidential election.

There was chaos and confusion, destruction of federal property, the U.S. Capitol building, injuries and loss of lives as a result of the insurrection.

On that fateful, fearful and momentous day, the destructive, violent and deadly mob tried to disrupt a democratic process to overturn the results of the Nov. 3, 2020, election, but U.S. Capitol police officers and D.C. metropolitan police and other law enforcement agencies fought hard and defended democracy.

In the end, democracy prevailed. Though tested, shaken and shattered, democracy reigned. Democracy prevailed.

Just as there were heroes and patriots that day, were there also criminals who can be branded as “traitors”?

Again, questions arise as to what and who provoked the rioters to do what they did. Who is responsible and accountable for the U.S. Capitol insurrection? Where and what was the former U.S. president doing that day? As commander-in-chief, did he attempt to do anything before and during that momentous day to inflame, stop or quell the situation?

Were there lawmakers who condoned or conspired with the protesters or rioters-turned-insurrectionists?

The shattered and shaken democracy the United States has is fragile. It is quite obvious that democracy is everyday tested and threatened, not only in the United States, the land of the free world because of her democracy, but also other countries clamoring to have it.

What is democracy, anyway? Why is it worth dying for? Webster’s dictionary defines democracy as a form of government in which people choose leaders by voting; hence, it is a representative, elective and constitutional government.

If democracy is fragile and threatened all the time, and is worth dying for, then everyone who loves it must be vigilant and fight for it. Otherwise, the United States of America ceases to be that beacon of hope and light for other countries around the world.

Chris A. Quilpa, a retired U.S. Navy veteran, lives in Suffolk, Chesapeake, and Portsmouth. Email him at chris.a.quilpa@gmail.com.