As I sat on my sofa and watched the sunrise this morning, I took a sip of my coffee. Most of the time, I start my day like this and think about all the work I have to do, the errands I need to run, and what I need to get accomplished in the next 12 hours or so. But, this morning, I had a completely different train of thought. I sat there and wondered – what exactly are we all in for this week as a nation?
My first thought was, please God, let’s not have a repeat of last week’s events. Never in my wildest dreams would I ever think I would witness an attack on our legislative branch (or any branch for that matter). Growing up, I remember being taught that the legislature is the most important branch of government. From creating our laws and protecting our rights to declaring war, our senators and representatives represent our ideals for democracy. And the Capitol building is where they work every day for all of us. It is their home away from home. It’s a melting pot of people who speak on behalf of its citizens. At least, I like to think they do, but don’t worry, I am not that naive.
For me, the Capitol building has always been a place of reverence and compromise, certainly not violence, hate, and intolerance. I have so many photos of myself in front of that majestic building with my parents and sister on school trips and family vacations. I’ve visited D.C. more often than any other city in the country – except for Philadelphia (of course). I’ve gone there to visit with my sister, who lived in the District for many years or attend meetings with colleagues. The last time I was there was about a year ago to see a special showing of High Fidelity followed by a conversation with the one and only John Cusack. I took the train to D.C. and remembered walking out of Union Station, and the first thing I saw was the Capitol welcoming me to one of my favorite cities. It has always been a sight to behold and a symbol of all that is good and decent in our country. I have so many good memories there.
It’s hard to wrap my head around what happened on those steps and in those gilded hallways just a few short days ago. In a word, it was frightening. Just like you, I watched our representatives being evacuated from the House chamber that I’ve toured a few times when they weren’t in session. I recognized many of those faces from Meet the Press and Face the Nation and saw them running for their lives. They became much more human to me in those moments than their somewhat celebrity status on TV. I felt for their families, who were helplessly watching this all unfold live on television along with the rest of the country. I can’t imagine the sheer panic these men and women (and their staff and everyone else who works in the building) went through in those harrowing moments and then subsequent hours of waiting and wondering when they can go back to work and how long it would before they could hug their loved ones.
I wish I didn’t know that the horrible people who attacked our democracy existed in this country. I always knew they could be found if I really looked – but I never looked. And then, they were there. People who have an inherent loathing for all minorities and wear their hate across their chests with pride and in plain sight. It is terrifying that such a mob could descend upon our leaders and threaten them with more than just words.
And now, there are talks of impeachment and removal and the 25th amendment and resignations, all of which, by the way, I am totally on board with. Throw the book at them, I say.
God only knows what comes next, which is what I was thinking about as I drank my coffee in my peaceful home at the crack of dawn. I hope and pray that whatever happens doesn’t top last week’s events. And I think I’ll leave it at that.