If I close my eyes, it seems the mob is still battering the gates to the US Capitol. I can hear their angry cries and see the sequence of their actions, and the petrified, completely overwhelmed U.S. Capitol police. Obviously the videos of that afternoon are now a permanent part of our lore of the trials of American democracy. But as the mob of white insurrectionists raged and rampaged outside, Congressman Jason Crow, an army veteran and my Aurora representative, was helping secure the Chamber where lawmakers were counting Electoral College votes to confirm Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory. Crow, like a good protector, distributed gas masks to his colleagues and shielded other, less fit representatives — of both parties.
And then after the chamber was secured, after the mob was compelled to depart by the National Guard, Colorado’s U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet gave an impassioned and impressive speech about how democracies die. The Roman Empire’s demise resulted not from a breach by Barbarians from outside but rather from internecine strife, factions fighting each other. Rome’s end bore an uncanny similarity to what’s transpiring to America. The afternoon’s assault on the Capitol resulted from groundless rhetoric from a conspiracies peddling president.
And then there was Colorado’s QAnon Representative Lauren Boebert texting geographic location of representatives as the siege unfolded. Such demeanor in face of the dire state in which the whole Congress found itself in, is perplexing.
I was particularly proud of the two members of the Colorado delegation whom I had voted for. So did many Aurorans who, like me, come from around the world and form the backbone of the community. Crow and Bennet are two men who, like me, believe in the supremacy of truth and logic — the pillars of good governance and what the Constitution promulgates. Their actions that night point to their intrinsic belief in justice and truth. It is one lesson immigrants to the U.S. take seriously to heart.
What distinguishes the U.S. from other countries is the Constitution that grants every citizen an equal shot at happiness and a good life. And no, America doesn’t always measure up to its ideals. But at least it tries, and immigrants to this country see and know that. And because we know the poisonous results of tribalism, we do our best to leave our tribal ideation at the border. Tribalism’s essence is to fight others, rather than to work together towards a common good. We lament that America is becoming more and more tribal; that, sadly, doesn’t augur well for the country.
That many of us witnessed flagrant abuse of power by strong men in countries where we came from motivates many of us to be active participants in the political process. We want Jason Crow and Michael Bennet to please know that their words and actions were greatly appreciated. My African émigrés, and immigrants from other continents, pledge to continue our grassroots efforts to support and send men and women — like them — who believe in what attracted us to this country — fairness, equality and justice.
The groups I have been part of here in Aurora have raised funds and canvassed for Andrew Romanoff in his several runs for office. Republican Mike Coffman also benefited from African émigrés support. We refuse to be observers of the political battle. We are part of it. We continually make efforts to join and amplify our efforts with various groups — Hispanic, Asian and others.
I hope our two representatives understand and acknowledge that their votes and support come from many corners of the community. It is easy to take smaller groups for granted. But it may mean a loss; hence continuous engagement with the community is essential. Above all, truth matters. All political edifices based on lies and obfuscation, are like sand castles — they are bound to be washed away.
The energy and intelligence Crow and Bennet demonstrated on that tragic night should carry them to success, across the next two years. As long as they remember that the communities they serve may be humble and varied, but they all count.
Pius Kamau, M.D., general surgery, is president of the Aurora-based Africa America Higher Education Partnerships; co-founder of the Africa Enterprise Group and president of the Consortium of African Diasporas in the U.S.A. He has been a National Public Radio commentator and a blogger, and is author of “The Doctor’s Date with Death.”