One Year After Jan. 6 Insurgency, There Has Been Little to No Accountability, And the Need to Defend Our Democracy Persists

Statement by Johanna Chao Kreilick, President, Union of Concerned Scientists

Published Jan 6, 2022

WASHINGTON (January 6, 2022)—A year ago today, the United States Capitol was breached by extremists attempting to thwart the certification of the 2020 Presidential election. This attack on the electoral process resulted in five deaths and further demonstrates that democracy in the United States is under serious threat. That threat remains real and obliges the Senate to act with urgency to pass legislation that protects democracy and ensures free and fair elections, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).

Below is a statement by Johanna Chao Kreilick, president of UCS.

“Today marks a grim milestone in American history—when the tradition of the peaceful transfer of power was brutally interrupted. For the first time in our history, the outgoing president explicitly refused to accept the results of a demonstrably free and fair election, and his supporters—with the president’s encouragement—attempted to disrupt the Constitutional process and overturn that election by violence. And yet our political system has yet to truly contend with this attack and hold all its perpetrators accountable.

“We cannot take this threat lightly and we can’t allow falsehoods to drown out facts. The science community, like every other part of civil society, must stand up for democracy before it’s too late. This means joining with partners in fighting for democracy, getting out the vote, and pushing Congress to move key voting rights and pro-democracy legislation. We must learn from civil rights leaders and voting rights advocates and be a part of a movement to shift power to those whose voices have been suppressed. We will not solve the other pressing issues facing our country—including climate change, environmental injustice, racial inequity, nuclear proliferation, and the coronavirus pandemic—unless we have a healthy, functioning democracy where everyone’s voice can be heard.

“Yet in the aftermath of January 6th, the effort to thwart democracy in the U.S. has expanded. Republican politicians, right-wing media figures, and well-funded lobby groups continue to spread disinformation about the voting process, and those lies have real consequences. At every level, the officials who oversee elections face threats inspired by those lies. At the state level, allies of the former president have used their legislative power to restrict voting rights, interfere with the electoral process, and draw gerrymandered maps that protect and expand their grip on power. These attacks on voting have been enabled by court decisions that are dismantling the achievements of the civil rights movement. Meanwhile, in the very halls of Congress targeted by the January 6th insurgency, legislators have used the filibuster to block laws that could protect our democracy and expand the right to vote.

“The January 6 assault on our democracy was a high-profile and striking moment, but it draws on a long and pervasive historical legacy. The lies about the 2020 election are based in racist ideology about whose votes should count, and the restrictions on voting inspired by those lies fall hardest on Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and other marginalized communities who have historically been excluded from the political process.

“Our democracy is in a tenuous state. What happens next is of profound importance for the fight for democracy, here and around the world. This moment should inspire us to redouble our commitment to democracy and justice.”