An Assault on the Capitol

The nation’s democracy crisis seemed to reach its nadir Wednesday, as riotous mobs took over the Capitol in a horrific attack that ended with five people dead.
 
Yet as with so many of the crises our nation has faced in recent months­–the pandemic, the racial justice reckoning–a seed of hope was hidden in the wreckage. After the Capitol was finally cleared, lawmakers resumed deliberation with bipartisan calls for unity and condemnations of violence.
 
For Civic Circle students, it was another teachable moment. However discouraging, the assault on the Capitol, and the security failures that accompanied it, fueled discussion about basic democracy principles, including the truth, equity, and the rule of law. Students watched floor speeches by Republicans and Democrats about core American values and the peaceful transfer of power.

It was an apt introduction to this month’s unit on understanding the news. Disinformation and false narratives fueled much of what went wrong on Wednesday.

Yet this week, the outcome of the Georgia special election also affirmed that in American democracy, the people–the voters–always have the last word. As incoming President Joe Biden said on the eve of that election: “Politicians cannot assert, take, or seize power. Power is granted by the American people, and we cannot give that up.”
Parttime Portraits on Unsplash

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