I was completely discouraged, upset, disgusted, and angry that people carrying American flags, Trump flags, and Confederate flags, some dressed in military tactical gear, were smashing windows and illegally entering the US Capitol building. I’m sure most of you have seen the pictures. Four people died. This is where we are.

Each one of us has a right to be angry. Storming the Capitol building is undeniably unacceptable. It was a direct hit on one of our nation’s most visible symbols of democracy. The intention of the attack was to disrupt a procedure in which both the Senate and the House of Representatives meet to certify the election. This is an incredibly important and sacred ritual of democracy, in which each state elects their choice for the president. The federal government has no power to overturn the states’ election results.

I watched the opening remarks by Vice President Pence and the opening statements by Majority Leader Senator McConnell and Minority Leader Senator Schumer. They were passionate, patriotic, and human.

These speakers had been shaken to their very core, and forced into a deeper realization of what they are there to do, as public servants. The chambers they were sitting in were filled with Trump supporters just hours before. There are pictures of people sitting at Nancy Pelosi’s desk, rummaging through her papers.

Perhaps we needed our leaders to be traumatized enough to realize why they are here, and how important their role is. They experienced what we so often do. The fear of an imminent threat, with no power or choice to stop it.

So, for hours I sat and watched C-SPAN and observed the government at work: a process that has been in place for over 200 years. I listened to every speech, every objection, through the separation of both houses of Congress, to independently hear objections to the certification, through the recess, and back to continue the process. I saw, for the most part, mature, caring elected leaders reacting to something that touched almost all of them.

It gave me hope that maybe our leaders will realize that their job is not to get their latest sound bite on CNN or Fox. Their job is not to publicly and personally attack their adversaries on the other side of the aisle. Their job is to understand how democracy works, by listening, debating, and unifying to make things better for their constituents, and the United States as a whole.

The real hope I saw was an opportunity to raise the bar, shift the way they govern, and maybe, make a real difference in our nation.

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