On Jan. 6, a violent mob of seditionists attacked the Capitol building as our democratically elected representatives tallied the electoral votes to officially certify our next president. Along with hundreds of millions of my fellow Americans, I watched in horror as criminals attacked the foundation of our union. I was disgusted by the attack on our constitutional process and fearful for the safety of our officials, law enforcement and legislative staff members.
In the face of such an egregious attack on our government, we absolutely must reinvest faith in our system of government. Supporting this system means enthusiastically embracing imperfect compromises brought about by the due process of law. It means sacrificing desired political outcomes for the sake of preserving the process itself. Through even the most divisive of issues, generations of everyday Americans have made this noble sacrifice by participating in and honoring the conclusions of our civic process. But today, our due process of law is under threat from mobs of un-American insurrectionists. Their selfish illiberalism must be rejected because due process is worth the sacrifice. The American sacrifice to due process allows for peace, prosperity and the perpetual movement of future generations toward a better country. It requires an American spirit of individualism that shuns the notion that any politician is worthy of our personal allegiance. Such a sacrifice is noble, beautiful and essential for the preservation of our union.
For readers who’ve read my political column in The Hoya, it is no secret that I lean to the right on many issues. I generally believe market efficiency, limited government and individual liberty are principles through which we can make our nation more just and prosperous for all. But all of these debates are necessarily subservient to the process of lawmaking. Despite hopes that Donald Trump could be a vehicle for advancing a more conservative policy agenda, many on my side of the aisle were clearly wrong to allow his corrupt illiberalism to stain our nation and government. No electoral gain or policy politicking is ever worth destabilizing our constitutional system.
Well-meaning progressives will argue the seeds of this rotten fruit were planted further back than Trump. Similarly, well-meaning conservatives will present positive aspects of Trump’s policies and argue he is a cultural reaction of forgotten working-class America to rich left-wing elitism run rampant. But neither sides’ case is useful. The storming of the Capitol was not about policy or demographics but rather about a violent mob that believed the American sacrifice to the due process of law was not worth it.
The terrifying truth is the mob’s America might become a reality if we decide we are too weak and ill-spoken to resolve our differences through the due process of law. Angry factions of the country may resign to smashing windows, storming buildings and triggering National Guard deployments. But patriots have an obligation to oppose this crude violence.
Americans can choose to embrace the frustrating, tedious but balanced system outlined by our Constitution. We can choose to sacrifice our desired political outcome with faith that future generations will build a more perfect union using the knowledge of our mistakes. We should debate ideas peacefully and considerately, but at the end of the day, we must embrace whichever viewpoint prevails in our civic process for the sake of peace and the endurance of our republic. This sacrifice means that no party’s vision for the country will ever be fully realized. But, by engaging honestly in our constitutionally defined system of American self-governance, we ensure younger and wiser generations will always be equipped to navigate further along the lengthy arc of justice.
I happen to believe there is a sliver of American exceptionalism in our Constitution. After all, it is the kind of constitution that prevents even presidents from seizing power and stealing elections, as Donald Trump clearly wished to. It is the kind of document that can and has changed over time to battle bigotries and protect against tyrannies. This exceptional document has been able to do so because the American people have chosen to live under it.
We choose to sacrifice the ardencies of our political beliefs to the American system of governance. We do so because our true national character lies in our chosen faiths, freely exercised, and by morals learned from our families and communities. We cannot allow our political identities to eclipse faith in our nation. Campaign signs ought to be thrown in the trash after each election, not given permanent posts in the homes of Americans like crucifixes. The mob that stormed the Capitol seditiously traded national pride for loyalty to Donald Trump. Americans must never allow their loyalty to fall into the undeserving hands of politicians.
The chaos of Jan. 6 proves our generation is called to reinvest in this exceptionalism, to sacrifice our political infatuations for the good of our country and our posterity. Angry political factionalism must be overshadowed by a patriotic hope for a brighter American future. Our allegiance must always lie with one another and with the constitutional system that allows us to live harmoniously and freely, together.
Sam Kehoe is a sophomore in the College.