Today didn’t quite sit right with me.
Yes, the events of January 6th last year were horrifying, even criminal. Policemen trying to protect our democracy lost their lives. People used violence to try to stop a free and fair election. All that is terrible, none of it should have happened, and today is certainly a day to rededicate ourselves to our democracy.
But today’s commemorative events did nothing to address the deeper fissures in our society. The event itself, like Donald Trump himself, was the symptom of a deeper cause. And until we address that cause, then all the rapturous expressions of how much we love our democracy will be little more than clanging cymbals. Healing words mean nothing if they basically mean nothing.
Our democracy wasn’t just attacked on January 6; our democracy is attacked every day of the week, and has been for the last forty years. The real “attack on our democracy” wasn’t just one event that took place a year ago; it’s the larger pattern of legalized bribery that’s destroying our democracy from the inside. Every time resources of hope and opportunity are transferred from the many to the few, our democracy is attacked. The main point of attack is the systemic corruption that goes on in that Capitol building every single day.
This is not a time in our lives to pussyfoot around the truth. It’s not a time in our history to allow our devotion to something as ultimately meaningless as a political party to blind us to the truth of our circumstances. The real dichotomy in American politics is not between the Right and the Left; it’s between the powerful and the powerless. The political-media industrial complex, headquartered in both parties, has created the Left-Right culture wars to distract Americans from the truth of who and what actually oppresses them. Our fellow citizens are not our enemy. Greed is our enemy. Abusive power is our enemy. Injustice is our enemy. Unfettered corporate influence is our enemy.
And those are the things that have been attacking our democracy. Many of the people who so sanctimoniously sang democracy’s praises today, standing on the Capitol steps with those stupid fake candles in their hands, are for all practical purposes but handmaidens to democracy’s enemies. No legislator who takes money from Big Pharma or Insurance companies; gun manufacturers, Big Chem or Big Ag; Big Oil or the MIC has any right to call themselves a defender of our democracy. Not today, and not any day. Nor does it matter any more that they don’t see that. We do.
Today should have been commemorated with more than show tunes, though God knows the image is perfect. Performance…mere performance. It should have been commemorated with the expansion of medicare, the cancellation of the college loan debt, raising the minimum wage, or creating free college for all. It should have been commemorated by acts that addressed the despair of millions of Americans. It should have been commemorated by something - something, anything at all - which proves that anyone who works in that building has even a clue why things are so bad.
The only way to fortify our democracy is to use it once again for the purpose for which it exists: to serve the people, not just the elite; the many, not just the few; and those who need it most, not just those who pull the strings of government to line their pockets at the expense of others. As long as attacks are coming from the inside, we’ll always be at risk of more attacks from the outside. As long as there’s so much pathology inside the building, our democracy will not be safe.