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OUR OPINION: After assault on Capitol, we are at a crossroads

OUR OPINION: After assault on Capitol, we are at a crossroads

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Chaos, violence, mockery as pro-Trump mob occupies Congress

Rep. Andy Kim, D-N.J., cleans up debris and personal belongings strewn across the floor of the Rotunda in the early morning hours of Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021, after protesters stormed the Capitol in Washington, on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Where do we go from here?

That’s a question we posed regional leaders following the chaos at the Capitol last week. How do Americans move forward, repair the damage and prevent it from happening again?

Clearly, security is not what we were led to believe. If this building contains the leaders of our country and it easily can be entered, something is wrong – or someone was woefully unprepared. An investigation needs to be launched.

Second, terrorists shouldn’t be calmly escorted out of the building, they should be arrested and prosecuted. Considering there were thousands on the steps, climbing the walls and making themselves at home in elected officials’ offices, crimes have been committed. Those high-tech facial identification programs need to be working around the clock, making sure those who were guilty are charged.

Third, those who stoked the fires – insisting there was voter fraud when, repeatedly, election officials, courts and others who would know disagreed – need to rethink their election strategy. Ripping pages from the cable news playbook does no one any good. What no one seems to mention is the pandemic. If you were afraid of voting in a public place for fear of contracting COVID-19, wouldn’t you request a mail-in ballot? As a result, wouldn’t the number of mail-in ballots be greater than ever before? If there is a problem with voting, it’s this: There is no uniform country-wide system. That’s what senators and representatives should be calling for – a system that would ensure everyone everywhere had access to ballots that would be verified and counted.

Fourth, social media titans need to rethink their strategies. For years, teachers have said it is just another form of bullying and students across the country have felt its sting. Now that it’s used in a political arena, the stakes are high, particularly when citizens claim it’s their main source of news. Facebook, Twitter, Parler and any other social media platform should have to abide by rules that govern mainstream (yes, mainstream) media – libel and defamation laws are in place. They need to be exercised in this forum.

Fifth – and perhaps most important – voters need to really question what it is about a candidate they admire. Is it what he or she can accomplish? Or is it how cavalier he or she can be with truths we hold to be self-evident?

We are at a crossroads right now. Leaders need to do what’s right for their country – not their party, not their political futures.

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