Washington (AFP) – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sent a unique message to Americans and the world on the eve of the anniversary of the horrific attack on the Capitol Building:
“Democracy has won.”
In an interview with The Associated Press on Wednesday, inside the Capitol where a pro-Donald Trump gang imposed the blockade, Pelosi said it was time for the country to turn to its “better angels,” capitalizing on history and ensuring a day like January 3. 6 does not happen again.
“Make no mistake, our democracy has been on the brink of disaster,” Pelosi told the Associated Press.
“Democracy won that night,” she said. “These people, because of the brave work of the Capitol Police, the Metropolitan Police and others, have been deterred in their action to stop the peaceful transfer of power. They are lost.”
The speaker will lead Congress Thursday on Memorial Day at the Capitol, where President Joe Biden speaks in the morning, and historians and lawmakers share memories. All day long – although a few Republicans are expected.
“This should be a period of remembrance and reconciliation,” Pelosi said, citing the example set by Abraham Lincoln.
“With malice toward none, and almsgiving toward all,” said Lincoln, as the Civil War was about to end. “We should extend a hand of friendship.”
The deadly uprising stunned the country and the world, as rioters looted the Capitol, some in a fight with police, after defeated President Trump urged them to fight while Congress ratified Biden’s election.
Pelosi said no one could imagine a US president calling for rebellionBut there is now “a massive civic lesson learned about what a president can do,” she said.
“I think now people have been alerted to the fact that there can be rogue presidents out there.”
Republicans mostly stay away from anniversary events. They downplay the attack and blame Democrats for not fortifying the Capitol.
Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the House minority leader, said in a letter to colleagues that Democrats are using the anniversary “as a partisan political weapon to further divide our country.”
Pelosi, the congresswoman from California, who made history 15 years ago as the first female speaker of the House — and became one of the most powerful leaders ever to have held the gavel — said she had “absolutely no sense of responsibility” for the current divisions in Congress, or the country.
Having led the House of Representatives twice to impeach Trump, she said her message to those who attacked the Capitol — and the millions of Americans who have supported Trump and can support him again — is that they lied to them. Countless court cases and investigations have shown no evidence of voter fraud that could have tip the election., he claimed.
“Maybe they thought that was true,” she said. But the President of the United States lied to them.
So she said, “He should be ashamed.”
Pelosi sat below a portrait of George Washington, relying heavily on the founders’ vision of a country in which Americans have many differences but rely on common sense to resolve them.
She noted Lincoln’s efforts — insisting on building the Capitol dome despite naysayers during the Civil War — to emphasize national unity.
We cannot disclaim our responsibility. “We have the power, we have the responsibility, and we will commit to that to keep our country together,” she said.
“Let’s hope we never elect a president who would incite a rebellion in Congress in the United States.”
Looking back on the night of January 6, once the Capitol was cleared of the mob, Pelosi said she was very proud of the decision congressional leaders made to quickly return to certify the election results.
She hopes to reopen the Capitol “soon” – the “symbol of democracy for the world” – which is now closed to the public for longer than at any other time in its history – once the coronavirus pandemic fades and the doctor’s office indicates it is safe.
Inside her Capitol offices, Pelosi showed off the mirror that had been smashed in the melee but has since been repaired, along with a door that had been vandalized while a mob searched for her, menacingly calling her name.
There is a conference room where many of its employees are barricaded, silent and frightened while the rioters chase them outside. She was presiding over the house, down the hall, and was hurried to safety.
Pelosi said that while historical artifacts can be repaired and replaced, she knows the emotional toll of the deadly day that still lingers for many.
“What I remember most about the day,” she said, “is the thing that I find so ruthless, and that’s the impact it’s having on young people on Capitol, and my staff in particular.” “What I remember most, and will never forget, is the shock I saw in the eyes of the young people who were present at this violence.”
Biden suggested that one way to promote democracy at home and around the world is to show that America’s government can succeed, despite his faltering agenda in the Senate.
Pelosi agreed and said she expected Congress to finalize Biden’s “Building Better Act,” a package of social initiatives and climate change strategies, and send it to the president’s office “this year.”
She said the election law and voting rights legislation now pending in the Senate “is probably the most important piece of legislation we can pass.”
She said of Biden: “I think he’s a great unifier. I think times have found him and he’s the right person for the right job at this time,”
As for her own plans, as many expect this will be her last term in office, Pelosi will only say that she “might” run for re-election.
For now, she urged Americans to look forward, not backward.
“The future is America’s resilience, America’s greatness,” she said. “America will always win and we will survive – even what we went through last year.”