We must come together to keep our republic
Gallows on the Capitol lawn. Molotov cocktails at the ready. Zip-tie handcuffs in the House of Representatives and Senate Chambers. Law enforcement officers beaten and killed. There is no sugar-coating what happened at our nation’s Capitol on January 6th: Domestic terrorists violently breached the seat of American government with the intent of preventing the certification of the rightful winner of the 2020 presidential election.
As chaos unfolded that afternoon, I was thankful to be have been sheltered in a safe area of the House Office Buildings. I watched updates in horror as Capitol Police were overrun and the violent mob took the Capitol building. Like most Americans, I was heartbroken at what was unfolding in the heart of our nation’s 244-year old democratic experiment.
As chair of the Legislative Branch House Appropriations Subcommittee, I’m charged with the funding and oversight of the Capitol Police. Ahead of expected protests on January 6th, I held calls with the Sergeant at Arms and Capitol Police to ensure there was a crowd management plan. I was assured there were sufficient protocols that would keep members of Congress and the staff who work here safe.
Clearly, there was not a sufficient plan. What happened was an epic failure of intelligence and forethought. The vast majority of officers were forced to put their lives on the line defending members of Congress, but these officers were left completely underprepared by their superiors.
In my capacity on the Legislative Branch Subcommittee, I am launching an inquiry into failures in security among top brass at the Capitol who should have protected us from this breach. I and my colleagues will get to the bottom of how this grave risk to our national security came to pass.
But while critical, my inquiry alone cannot solve the problems that brought about this catastrophe. My charge for every Ohioan is that we must now launch a moral inquiry. We must come together and get to the bottom of how we allowed an armed insurrection to come to pass in our nation’s capital.
The first step of that inquiry is non-negotiable: We must reaffirm our shared belief in democracy. What we saw on January 6th was a direct result of a defeated president who relentlessly sowed doubt for months about the truth of the 2020 election. But the President’s legal team has lost more than 60 court battles trying to overturn election results.
He tried to bully state elected officials to “find” more than 11,000 votes to change the outcome of the race. He continued to fan the flames of a debunked conspiracy about voting machines from his soapbox online. No matter your politics, we must all say in no uncertain terms that we do not accept efforts to overturn the will of the people.
The second step of our inquiry is that we must join together and repudiate the actions of those who carried out the attack and sought to overthrow the will of the people. There must be no space in our democracy for those who use intimidation and violence to bend others to their will.
Benjamin Franklin famously said that we have “a republic — if you can keep it.” This very moment is one of those remarkable times in the course of history in which we must join together and renounce the actions of both President Trump and the perpetrators of last week’s attack. I implore every Ohioan to join together so we may choose to keep our republic.
Congressman Tim Ryan is the U.S. Representative for Ohio's 13th district.
You can read the Op-Ed as it was originally published in the Columbus Dispatch here.