Well. I chose a heck of a time to give up outrage, huh? I mean, giving up outrage for New Year’s and then having the week we had is like giving up sugar only to have a French patisserie open up next door.

Brunswick resident Heather D. Martin wants to know what’s on your mind; email her at [email protected]

Because truly, the events of the past week, described by many (including Trump’s former national-security advisor Fiona Hill) as an attempted coup, are outrageous.

Letting go of outrage, however, does not mean pretending things are fine or stepping away from the difficult conversations. It means facing these moments with clear-sighted purpose and speaking truth without invective. That still seems a noble goal, so let’s give it a shot.

I don’t need to recap what happened. We’ve all seen the footage. The images were unsettling, disturbing and strangely heartbreaking. It hurt to see people desecrating the home of our democracy. What surprised me the most, though, was that people were surprised.

Trump stated repeatedly that he would accept no other outcome than a win, even if he lost. When he nominated Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court he was shockingly transparent that he expected her to help hand him the election. He has repeatedly called violent white supremacists “good people,” been clear his people would rally around him and do his bidding, and even told the Proud Boys to “stand by” on national TV. So nothing about the events of Wednesday afternoon ought to come as a surprise to anyone.

What is most important to me is the unrelenting beating that has been handed out to Truth over the past four years. “Post truth” is not a thing and yet it somehow made its way into our lexicon. And this is the thing I am really stuck on because, for many of us, this is what the Mueller report and the impeachment trial were really all about.

I’m aware it was painted as partisan gamesmanship, but for many of us that trial was about defending the Constitution; about maintaining the Rule of Law, which no one is above; about facts, honesty and truth. That trial – with evidence on offer and witnesses pleading to testify – that was the moment to reckon with reality and take steps to protect our democracy against lies and deceit.

Instead, many of those who rose last Wednesday night to make stirring, impassioned speeches defending our nation and our government chose in the critical moments of the impeachment trial to allow their own political ambitions and partisan loyalties to trump their oath of office. It could have been so different. We chose to give the president a pass and grant leeway to lies. That moment made the riot on Wednesday possible.

We all have a lot of work ahead of us. The assault on the Capitol didn’t create the problems, it simply put them on display. For those retreating into the security of yet more conspiracy theories and wild falsehoods in the wake of it all: Stop. The cure for food poisoning is not more helpings from the same dish. It is time to face facts.

We have to deal with the race-based inequalities inherent in our systems, to reestablish a common understanding of citizenship and duty to country and community and figure out how so many of our fellow Americans came to feel so angry and so entitled. Fundamentally, we have to make telling the truth great again.

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