Cheryl Cook: Under the gaze of Lincoln |

Cheryl Cook: Under the gaze of Lincoln

The party of Lincoln is no more. It has suffered a severe blow at the hands of a commander in chief who, not since the Civil War, commanded the combat of American against American. Donald Trump would have preferred to summon the military to Washington on Jan. 6, but when that option was blocked, he summoned white nationalist militias that the FBI has deemed the greatest domestic threat to homeland security. Militias were accompanied by Trump sympathizers from as far away as Nevada County.

He rallied with them near the White House, urging them march to the Capitol and, “fight like hell,“ then retired to his compound of flashing television screens. The losing candidate did not display any loyalty or regard for the Capitol police, the Metropolitan police, or members of Congress. He sat watching the battle like an emperor watches gladiators at a coliseum, mildly enthralled and awaiting the blood shedding for his benefit.

Despite Republican pushback on an investigation of Jan. 6, a House select committee convened on July 27. Four officers testified under oath about their battle with rioters that day. Although the Capitol police and Metropolitan police were outnumbered by the insurrectionists, an estimated 9,400 to 150, they related how they fought hand-to-hand to defend Congress members and protect the ongoing confirmation of electoral votes.

The four officers testified under oath about being beaten with Confederate flags, “Don’t Tread On Me” flags, and our American flag, while the mob shouted:

“You will die on your knees!”

“Kill him with his own gun!”


“The president invited us here!”

“Trump won!”

Officer Harry Dunn testified that he broke down after hours of hand-to-hand combat in defense of the Capitol. Never before had a disgusting racial slur been thrown at him by a mob while he wore the uniform of the Capitol police. He was emotionally demoralized and physically exhausted. He turned to a fellow officer and asked, “Is this America?”

Upon hearing the gut-wrenching testimony of the four officers, Democrat Adam Schiff wept. Republican Adam Kinzinger wept. I believe that Abraham Lincoln, had he seen the assault on the Capitol from his seat at the Lincoln monument, would have wept at the demoralizing slide back in history to a modern-day Confederacy fomented by the words and actions of an American president who lost an election.

When that thin blue line broke on Jan. 6, not only did the insurrectionists penetrate the halls of Congress, they struck a devastating blow to the confidence and trust in our democracy, the democratic process, and the peaceful transfer of power.

Before Donald Trump, Americans felt confident in their voting power to unseat an elected official in the next election. According to the MAGA party, your vote doesn’t count if it wasn’t cast for their candidate. They will challenge and re-challenge election results, threaten and replace election officials, and enact new voting laws that suppress the vote in targeted districts.

When asked what the officers wanted from the committee, Officer Harry Dunn, Police Sgt. Aquilino Gonell, Officer Michael Fanone and Officer Daniel Hodges asked that the committee take the investigation very seriously. They wanted to know who incited an attempted coup on our country. Who among those currently sitting in Congress had aided and abetted the insurrection.

They also expressed extreme disgust with those in Congress — the very people they put their lives on the line that day to protect — who were now downplaying the insurrection and undermining an investigation to uncover what led to the attack.

Congress has taken an oath: “I solemnly swear I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”

But the assault by domestic enemies on our democracy has been compounded by the white-washing and lack of response from most Republican leaders. To answer Sgt. Dunn’s question, “Is this America?” Never! We will not die on our knees. An electoral vote confirmation took place at 3 a.m. the morning after the attempted coup.

But we all felt the heartbeat of our country skip a beat. We are holding our breath to see how our country will get up from its knees. Despite the barrage of distortion and distractions that will be thrown at this committee. Despite the ripping up of legal subpoenas that will be served. Despite the cover-up to protect political leaders.

We must heed the words of Abraham Lincoln: “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”

Rational Republicans must emancipate themselves from the bondage of a radical MAGA cult that is destroying their party. Because liberty and freedom are much bigger than political partisanship. It is born of the moral strength seen in souls like Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, Harry Dunn and Aquilio Gonell, who put aside political affiliation to unite as Americans working for the common good. Here’s to another 245 years, America!

Cheryl Cook lives in Penn Valley.


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