Statement from Dr. Daniel Bowen, Chair, TCNJ Department of Political Science, on the violence at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021:
I cannot effectively express how angry and sad I am about yesterday’s events. A mob, encouraged by the sitting president, violently attacked the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to intimidate Members of Congress and delay or stop the process of counting the votes of the Electoral College.
As political scientists, we are committed to shared values and bear special responsibility in communicating those values to our friends, our family, and the broader public. First, we have a special duty as the workforce of American democracy to support and defend it. So many of you have worked on electoral campaigns, legislative offices, or in local, state or federal administrations; you know well that the will of the people, expressed most fundamentally through the ballot, must be supported. As you know from your political science courses, elite competition for political power through non-violent means, and the acceptance of electoral outcomes by those who lose such contests, are essential to democratic governance. Second, we believe in the rule of law. This means, among other things, that the law should be implemented equally and that no one – not the President, not Members of Congress, not the wealthy, not white Americans, not police officers, not college professors – are free of its requirements or immune to its judgements. No political leader should be able to violate the law with impunity. Together, these values mean the Constitution along with U.S. and state statutes dictate what our elected officials can and cannot do. Their power is derived solely from the support of the people, measured by regular and fair elections, and they are constrained by the law. Finally, as social scientists, we are committed to seeking and understanding what is true about ourselves and the world around us through empirical observation, investigation, and critical thought. Being committed to truth sometimes requires us to question our previously-held beliefs and assumptions.
Make no mistake: what transpired yesterday was not normal. It is unquestionably one of the darkest and most shameful days in U.S. history. It sets an incredibly dangerous precedent for the future. It also is a reminder that the sins of our past – most notably white supremacy maintaining power through terrorism and violence – are still part of who we are today. In the days and years ahead, very hard work is needed to secure, restore, and extend American democracy. As people committed to the values above and as the major workforce of democracy, regardless of our political party identification and ideological preferences, this task demands our participation.
(image Anthony T Pope, via Wikimedia Commons)