Democracy survived January 6, 2021 attack - but our Democracy is at stake

Barb Byrum
Ingham County Clerk

MASON – Ingham County Clerk Barb Byrum (D-Onondaga) issued the following statement in response to the first anniversary of the Trump-led Insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.
Just one year ago, the months-long effort to undermine our nation’s faith in our democratic way of life boiled over on January 6th when Donald Trump incited a riot and encouraged his supporters to storm the United States Capitol in an attempt to disrupt the proceedings of the Congress in ratifying the electoral votes sent by the States for the 2020 Presidential Election. I, like many, sat in horror watching these domestic terrorists invade our most sacred halls and defile our national treasures at the former President’s behest.
Democracy survived that day, and the results of the election were certified under great duress. In the weeks and months that followed, we have seen that some of the individuals who were identified as being a part of this heinous attack have been brought to justice and more who are awaiting sentencing.

If only the Congress had the same resolve as our justice system. Despite bringing impeachment charges, and despite the U.S. Senators, who were the jurors in the impeachment trial, being witnesses to the crime, they declined to convict then-President Trump of his crimes.

While the events of that day were profoundly disturbing, the aftermath is just as troubling. The acolytes of the former President’s cult of personality have stoked violence directed at our elections administrators across the country. When these clerks have decided to retire, leave the profession, or not run for re-election as a result of these violent attacks, those that run to replace them are the very conspiracy believers that sought to undermine the process.

While our Democracy survived on January 6th, the greater concern is the cancer that is spreading within our elections system, bad actors who will undermine our elections from within. Now more than ever, elections administrators need our support, and new and devoted public servants need to be encouraged to step up and get involved in our democratic process.

Further, we need support from our elected representatives at the State and Federal level to be working on the side of Democracy, passing laws that actually make our elections safer and more secure, not just those that pretend to.

This will never happen if we elect fringe right-wing candidates to our Legislature and as elections administrators. As we speak, a Trump-endorsed election conspiracy peddling Secretary of State candidate is the Republican frontrunner for that post. She is best known for visiting Maricopa County and putting it in her platform to bring the same sham to Michigan. 

In State House districts across Michigan, candidates there are promoting the fact that they were present at the U.S. Capitol for the January 6, 2021 insurrection. They are spreading misinformation and election lies because they believe that it is politically expedient to do so. We must prove to them that it is not.

Last year, I reminded us all that history was watching. It still is. It is just as important to get our reaction right to the long-term effects of the insurrection as it was on January 6, 2021. Our Democracy is at stake.

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