On Wednesday, January 6, 2021, the U.S. Congress met to conduct one of the United States’ sacred rituals of democracy: counting the Electoral College votes. Their business—the public’s business—was interrupted for hours by an unruly mob who sought to overturn a free and fair election. Had they succeeded, the insurrectionists would have disenfranchised millions of their fellow Americans.
We watched as some members of Congress and their staff were evacuated from the chambers as the mob stormed the hallways of the Capitol, while others were forced to take shelter in the balcony of the House chamber. We watched the destruction of property and the violent clashes with some police officers.
By their actions, the insurrectionists showed their disdain for the sacred principles of the American experiment: respect for the Constitution, adherence to the rule of law and the peaceful transfer of power.
At the same time, we applaud the staff members, mostly women, who took the mahogany boxes containing the Electoral College votes with them as they evacuated. We applaud the calm leadership of Speaker Pelosi, who worked with Representative McCarthy and Senators Schumer and McConnell, to complete the public’s business in defiance of the mob. We commend the Iowa congressional delegation, which is now 66% female, who unanimously voted to validate the election outcome. And we are gratified that, in the end, Kamala Harris was elected as the first woman vice president.
The Catt Center is dedicated to promoting civic engagement and we reaffirm our commitment to this important mission. We will continue to work with our colleagues on campus and off to uphold democratic values and to build a better future.