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Freedom Is Not Free

We’re living in an era where a determined minority is doing everything in its power to try to destroy our democracy for their own agenda.  The American people know it, and they’re standing bravely in the breach.  - Pres. Joe Biden, Valley Forge, 1/5/2024

Today is January 6th. The third anniversary of a failed insurrection against our government by supporters of the candidate who lost the 2020 Presidential Election.

Who can forget the images? Angry men and women, incited to riot and fighting law enforcement on the streets, sidewalks, plazas, doorways and halls of the Capitol Building. The Vice President & his family rushed to safety to prevent the mob screaming "Hang Mike Pence" from reaching him. Insurrectionists stalking the halls of Congress demanding "their grievances" be heard and "their rights" be respected. Others assaulting police officers, vandalizing congressional offices even defecting in the hallways before order was restored.

That single afternoon shattered a two century tradition peacefully transferring federal power. The seditious conspiracy led by the former President and his partisans nearly broke our government. Their insurrection wrecked our belief that no matter the electoral outcome, we can come together behind newly elected leaders. That "politics" - civil discussion, persuasion and compromise in the service of The People - could continue between winners and losers even after a close, hard fought election.

All of this was destroyed in the service of a single, corrupt angry man. A president who was impeached for his abuses of power, who stood by while a pandemic killed hundreds of thousands of Americans and the economy collapsed, and who rightfully lost his re-election campaign after a record breaking nationwide election that his own government judged the the "most secure" ever run.

In the three years since that tragic day, President Biden and Democratic leaders made it their mission to bring us back from the brink of disunion and disaster. With little or no help from Republicans, they passed once-in-a-generation legislation to help people stricken by the pandemic and collapsed economy heal (American Rescue Plan Act. Then, they did it again by enacting the largest investment in our nation's infrastructure from the smallest, most rural towns to the largest and most populous cities (Bipartisan Infrastructure Law). And then a third time to help people and businesses confront economic dislocation and inflation head on (Inflation Reduction Act). In these ways and by their actions, President Biden and Democrats demonstrate their commitment to and faith in the American People and a nation that believes in Opportunity, Security, Liberty, Dignity, Respect, Honor, and the Truth.

The results? Since 2021, our nation has experienced the largest economic expansion, lowest unemployment and highest wage growth in the past fifty years. Americans are back to work, our nation is investing in them, and those who sought to overthrow our Democracy continue to be proven wrong. Hundreds of their foot soldiers stand convicted, hundreds more face conviction and many of their indicted leaders are fighting to delay their day in court. Indeed, under the terms of the 14th Amendment, the former President and many other oath breakers face permanent disqualification from ever holding office again.

In remembering the January 6th Insurrection yesterday in Valley Forge, President Biden reminds us of what happened that day and what "vengeance" can be expected by the "dictatorship" the former President promises to bring to our country next January 20, 2025 should he win the upcoming Presidential Election. Indeed, as President Biden says, "Your freedom is on the ballot."

All too often we hear those most fearful and critical of our shared future that their "freedoms" are being taken away from them. Seldom do we ask exactly which "freedoms" have been taken from them. Their freedom to spout lies that spread far and wide? Their freedom to shout down and intimidate public officials? Their freedom to own weapons of war without taking responsibility for the awesome killing power they hold in their hands? Their freedom to impose on everyone else their religions, their prejudices, and their tastes in books, cinema and beer?

We know what freedoms are at stake and why we will vote to protect them in this year's election. The freedom to vote and have your vote counted; the freedom of choice and to decide on your own healthcare; the freedom to have a fair shot; the freedom from fear. As President Biden says: "Democracy means having the freedom to speak your mind, to be who you are, to be who you want to be.  Democracy is about being able to bring about peaceful change.  Democracy — democracy is how we’ve opened the doors of opportunity wider and wider with each successive generation, ...notwithstanding our mistakes."

On this January 6th, take time to watch President Biden's speech and listen closely to his words. And remember just what January 6 really means to all of us.

As we live through this 248th year since independence, remember just how tenuous our experiment in people governance really is. Think about just how critical it is for the People to be part of making our local, county, state and federal governments work for all of us. Understand that our freedom today was won only through the struggles of those who have gone before us and are they are not guaranteed. Each of us must fight for our freedoms.

And then commit to do just a bit more in 2024. Speak out. Stand tall. Vote. Volunteer. Join. Work together. Help each other. Donate. Just do something.

We are "all in" on this great nation. Ours is a country that gets up, carries on, never bows and never bends. A nation that believes in what's possible, neither weighed down by grievances nor fear.  We remember who we are and what we believe in — that there is nothing beyond our capacity if we act together and decently with one another.

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