Thursday marks one year since a mob of supporters of former President Donald Trump. On Wednesday, the eve of the deadly attack, former President warned that democracy itself "has become dangerously fragile."
"One year ago, a violent mob, guided by unscrupulous politicians, stormed the Capitol and almost succeeded in preventing the democratic transfer of power," Carter wrote in an op-ed for The New York Times. "...There followed a brief hope that the insurrection would shock the nation into addressing the toxic polarization that threatens our democracy. However, one year on, promoters of the lie that the election was stolen have taken over one political party and stoked distrust in our electoral systems."
Last year's insurrection occurred after Trump held a rally near the White House, during which he continued to say "we will never concede," referring to the outcome of the presidential election. Despite President Biden's certified win and no evidence of the widespread fraud Trump and his allies claim occurred, the former president has continually claimed the election was stolen. He told the January 2021 rally-goers to
"All of us here today do not want to see our election victory stolen," Trump told the crowd. "...We will never give up. We will never concede. It doesn't happen. You don't concede when there's theft involved. Our country has had enough, we will not take it anymore, and this is what this is all about."
Those who attended that rally later marched to the U.S. Capitol, where congressional leaders were meeting to certify Mr. Biden's election win. Rioters.
Four rioters died on January 6, 2021, and one Capitol police officer who was attacked died the next day. Four officers who responded that day died by suicide in the months that followed.
Following last year's insurrection, Carter, now 97, joined three other former presidents, Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, in condemning the attack.
Now, a year later, Carter wrote that politicians have "leveraged the distrust" stemming from that time period to "win by any means." This, he said, is "threatening to collapse the foundations of our security and democracy with breathtaking speed."
"I now fear that what we have fought so hard to achieve globally — the right to free, fair elections, unhindered by strongman politicians who seek nothing more than to grow their own power — has become dangerously fragile at home," he said. "...For American democracy to endure, we must demand that our leaders and candidates uphold the ideals of freedom and adhere to high standards of conduct."
Carter said everyone, regardless of political views, must agree to "constitutional principles" and fairness, civility and respect. He also said elections must be secure and accessible, and that the nation "must resist the polarization that is reshaping our identities around politics."
Finally, he noted that "violence has no place in politics" and that disinformation must urgently be addressed to prevent further devastation.
"Our great nation now teeters on the brink of a widening abyss," Carter said. "Without immediate action, we are at genuine risk of civil conflict and losing our precious democracy. Americans must set aside differences and work together before it is too late."
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