by U. S Senator Joni Ernst
Wednesday was a tragic day in our nation’s history. The very institution that millions of people from across the world revere, visit, and look to for democratic decision-making was pillaged by an angry mob incited by false hope.
To say I’m saddened by what happened is an understatement. I’m furious. This is not the America that I know, that I love, and that I fought for.
In this nation we have a beautiful history of debating and disagreeing on very, very tough issues. We also have a long-standing record of peacefully transitioning power from one administration to the next. And let me be perfectly clear: We will have that again on Jan. 20, 2021, when Joe Biden is sworn in as our next president.
Peaceful protest is a fundamental freedom that Americans are able to enjoy — one that I worked to defend in my 23 years in the military, and that I proudly support. But storming the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to influence elected officials — an insurrection as many have called it — is not, and will never be, a peaceful protest. It is anarchy — and America and her people cannot stand for it in any form.
Last summer, I gave the looting and rioting that swept across our country, from Portland and Seattle to the streets of Washington, D.C, the same label — anarchy. And what I stated then rings true today: Peaceful protesters are being drowned out by the sounds of shattering glass and splintering wood.
I understand that many Iowans are upset with the results of the 2020 presidential election, and that most of these hardworking people would not resort to the violence we saw this week in an attempt to get a different outcome. I’ve received countless calls, texts, emails, and letters from Iowans with real concerns about the integrity of our election system. I hear their voices, and believe we should have a thorough review of this past election — which is why I support my good friend and colleague Sen. Tim Scott’s bipartisan effort to establish a commission to do so.
But there can be no doubt that the violent mob who lawlessly breached the Capitol in hopes of intimidating elected officials and disrupting our constitutional duties are criminals. Blood was shed and lives were lost because of their heinous actions. They should all be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, and as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, I will fight to make sure that happens.
I am gravely concerned that dictators around the world will use last week’s indelible images against us. A divided America is communist China’s dream. They spew propaganda about the United States by portraying us as unstable and undeserving of global leadership. And you better believe there is nothing that Vladimir Putin loves more than to point out the flaws of Western democracy.
It is past time to tone down the rhetoric — from the president down to every single American — and treat each and every human being with dignity and respect. We should once again be able to enjoy a meal around the table with our family, friends, and neighbors without having harsh political debates.
I believe in this country, and what she stands for. I wouldn’t have served in military uniform, local elected office, and now as a United States senator if I didn’t. We are and forever will be the United States of America, and no difference or disagreement is too big for us to overcome.
America, we must always strive to be a more perfect union and to remain a beacon of hope and freedom for people around the globe.