If there’s a silver lining to the riots in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, it’s this: Democracy won out.
It was not a pretty victory. The insurgence by supporters of President Donald Trump (some of them armed) was illegal, violent and unpatriotic. It must have been terrifying for the lawmakers who huddled under chairs and were rushed off to more secure locations while terrorists smashed windows, broke into offices and stole things.
But it’s heartening to remember that once law enforcement officers secured the building, senators and representatives went back to the chamber.
They went back in and did their jobs.
As dicey as the situation was for a time on Wednesday, as rickety as our government looked, we kept to the system.
And despite immense pressure brought to bear on it, the system worked. Congress certified the electoral college votes.
The riots, and Mr. Trump’s role in encouraging them seem to have been a wakeup call for a number of senators. Perhaps the most surprising change of heart came from longtime Trump supporter Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. Of all people who were oriented to defend Trump, he’s the guy.
“Trump and I, we’ve had a hell of a journey,” he said when the Senate returned to the chamber Wednesday night. “Today, all I can say is, count me out. Enough is enough.”
He referred to courts’ decisions to certify the elections in the contested states and said he can accept the decisions by federal judges and the Supreme Court. He also referred to Trump’s demand to Vice President Mike Pence to block the certification of the election.
“I associate myself with Rand Paul,” Graham said. “How many times will you hear that? The mob has done something nobody else has been able to do: to get me and Rand to agree. Rand is right. If you’re a conservative, this is the most offensive concept in the world, that a single person could disenfranchise 155 million people.”
Graham said the Constitution mandates that the person with the greatest number of votes wins. He said we get to argue amongst ourselves, but when it’s over it’s over.
“I’ve traveled the world with Joe,” Graham said. “I hoped he lost. I prayed he would lose. He won. He’s the legitimate president of the United States.”
We’re ashamed of what happened Wednesday in D.C., but ultimately, we followed the Constitution. Democracy triumphed. We can take comfort, even take pride, in that.