JAN 6 was a devastating day in American history. In over 200 years American democracy had never been challenged the way it was done that day. The United States president, failing to accept defeat gracefully, encouraged a riot in the nation’s capital while the final votes by the electoral college were being confirmed in Congress.

Rioters were able to make it into the Capitol building, the vote count got stopped, and all legislators were told to go back to their chambers to stay safe as rioters charged into one of the most sacred buildings symbolising American democracy.

Democrats and Republicans alike were being threatened by mob violence, leaders of both parties had their backs against the wall. This could have rolled into even further trouble across the country if it was not for this one important turning point that the fiasco brought in its wake.

The leaders of both parties across the political divide realised that democracy is more important than any one person or any one party. Democracy is what is the core value of America, and, to protect democracy, they must fight as patriots, not as Republicans and Democrats.

Finally, the Republican Party realised just how dangerous Donald Trump could be. Senator Lindsey Graham, one of the most influential Republican leaders and a strong ally of President Trump, said: “Trump and I, we have had a hell of a journey. I hate it to end this way. Oh my God, I hate it. From my point of view, he has been a consequential president. But today, the first thing you will see … All I can say is count me out. Enough is enough.”

This pretty much sums it up — ‘count me out’ — the Republican Party chose the country over everything else. They shunned an attempt by their own president to hijack the American electoral system. Republican Representative Tom Reed of New York walked over to the democratic side and said: “I will stand with you tonight and send a message to all Americans that what we saw today was not American.” They pledged allegiance to the United States, not to President Trump.

Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House in a witty move, announced that Congress would resume today to finish what it had started. The Congress would certify Joe Biden’s win. After all the attacks, rioting and civil disobedience, the leaders of both parties came together to let the world know that they will not be deterred.

Former President George W. Bush said: “This is how election results are disputed in a banana republic”. This is exactly the same sentiment most Americans shared as well as many leaders of both parties did. The American leaders acted quickly and swiftly to protect the nation from falling.

They protected what was so sacred to American values and proved that no one person could take away what Americans have fought for hundreds of years.

It was a lesson for all of us, folks from all nations, and party leaders of all nations. Will you have the courage to stand up against the sitting president or prime minister of your nation who is from your party who you have closely worked with? Will you choose to be a patriot or a party worker? Will you choose your nation or your party?

Great nations are great because their leaders choose the nation over everything else, and America proved its greatness once again.

Zeshan Hamid
President, Council on Pak-US Relations
New York, USA

Published in Dawn, January 13th, 2021

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