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01.06.2021 0

Where do we go from here?

I don’t know. But I do know that storming the greatest symbol of freedom the world has ever known is not right. I wish my fellow patriots had not done that.

By Catherine Mortensen

At Wednesday’s rally, after President Trump finished laying out his case for what he, and many others, believe was widespread election fraud, my friends and I walked from the cold, soggy grounds of the rally onto the street. One of them asked,  “Where do we go from here?” “Not to the Capitol,” I quickly replied. “I’m cold, let’s go home.”  “No, that’s not what I meant,” she said laughing. “I meant, in the big picture, where do we go from here?”

I’m glad we didn’t march to the Capitol. As we drove out of D.C. into Northern Virginia, family and friends were “blowing up” our cell phones with texts asking about our safety. That’s how we learned rally attendees had stormed the Capitol after we left. It wasn’t until later that evening that I had a chance to watch videos taken from inside the Capitol Rotunda that I began to fully process what had happened. I am stunned. Over the past eight weeks, I have shared in their outrage and frustration over the election outcome and lack of response from any of the institutions entrusted with protecting our individual liberties. I have rallied with them in person and in spirit many times in recent years. What did I miss? Why didn’t I see this coming?

Have I been blind to their rage? What I’ve seen in those videos frightens me. As I write this, my hands shake. I am shaken to my core. Where do we go from here?

President Trump wrapped up his rally remarks by calling on us to reform our elections to better protect against widespread fraud. He proposed common-sense measures such as voter ID and signature verification on mail-in ballots. These are things I’ve long supported and will actively promote. I left the rally thinking I knew the answer to the question, “Where do we go from here?”  We will continue our fight for freedom by pushing for election reform.

But now I’m left wondering if I am out of step with the people and the movement I thought I knew so well. Instead of working within the system to reform it, do they want to figuratively (or even literally) blow it up? Is this how a revolution starts? Is that what they want? Is it what I want? Is it what we need?

I don’t know the answers to any of those questions.

What I do know is that I am deeply troubled by the prospect of a Biden presidency and Democrat control of both Houses of Congress. I know my son, a high school senior, has been denied an education in the public schools by a governor and local school board who have closed the schools in the name of Covid. I know that millions of Americans have lost their livelihoods and seen their dreams destroyed as a result of Covid lockdowns. I know that I don’t believe a man who hid in his basement for eight months got more votes than a president who campaigned tirelessly across the country. I know I am angry.

But I also know that storming the greatest symbol of freedom the world has ever known is not right. I wish my fellow patriots had not done that.

As I waited patiently in line for two hours to hear Trump speak, I had the chance to talk with many of my fellow patriots standing in line with me. They came from Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Massachusetts, Utah, Idaho, and South Carolina. They told me they loved their country and had traveled great distances to support fair and honest elections. I heard anger in their voices, but also a deep love of country. What I didn’t hear was the unfettered rage I saw and heard in those videos. Was it there, and I just missed it? Have I been willfully ignorant to the rage that exploded just a few hours later in the Capitol?

I don’t know. But I do know that the patriots I met today are honest, law-abiding Americans. And that is who we must remain.

Catherine Mortensen is Vice President of Communications at Americans for Limited Government.

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