Like many of you, I spent much of yesterday watching the disturbing events at the US Capitol unfold. Never would I have imagined that I would watch an insurrection take place on live television here in the United States. Never would I have imagined that the seat of our government would be occupied as Congress met to simply exercise one of its most basic Constitutional duties: certifying the results of an election as part of the peaceful transfer of power.
The scenes made me angry and they broke my heart. But they did not shake my faith in the political process.
I love politics. It has been my life’s work. Yes, it’s rife with dysfunction. But when it’s done right, it’s a noble vehicle for public service. It’s about a competition of ideas working towards better governance. It’s not always pretty, but democracy is how we as a society settle our differences.
Yesterday, that notion was tested by a violent attempt to disrupt the democratic process. The violence we witnessed betrays the very ideals of our nation, and it is not who we are as a people.
We must be better than this.
From the very first day I set foot on campus as a student more than thirty years ago, Georgetown has reminded me that we are all men and women for others. That we have a commitment — no matter our chosen field — to be a part of a shared community, and to leave it better than we found it.
To that end, I want to thank all of the unsung public servants who have faced immeasurable challenges in recent months: from the frontline workers caring for patients with COVID; to the election workers across the country performing a civic duty to deliver fair and free elections under extraordinarily challenging circumstances; to the countless members, staffers, journalists, and law enforcement officers who found themselves in harm’s way yesterday for simply showing up to work; and to so many others. Thank you.
We are at a pivot point in our nation. In less than two weeks, we will swear-in a new President and Vice President. Many of you voted for them. Many of you did not. But as soon as they take the oath of office, they will represent all of us. We will not all always agree with them, or one another. And that’s okay. We’re not expected to; that’s the beauty of our system. Democracy is how we settle our differences.
Our mission at GU Politics has never been more important. In the coming weeks and months, we will redouble our efforts to better connect the Georgetown community with the political process. Through our Fellows program, our Forum, our career services, and our student-run programs, we will continue to pull back the curtain on the practice of politics; we’ll create opportunities for students to engage directly with practitioners; we’ll keep trying to pop filter bubbles so we can better understand one another and improve civility in our discourse; and we’ll look for ways to elevate student voices in exploring ways to make the process work better.
I hope you’ll continue to join us in proving our slogan true: Public service is a good thing. Politics can be too.
Mo Elleithee (SFS ‘94)