One day after the US Constitution was signed, as the Constitutional Convention drew to a close, delegate James McBride recorded the following exchange:
Elizabeth Willing Powel asked Dr. Benjamin Franklin, “Well, Doctor, what have we got—a republic or a monarchy?”
“A republic,” replied the Doctor, “if you can keep it.”
234 years later, these words have come to life today in Washington, DC. The hallmark of American democracy is a steadfast commitment to rule of law and the peaceful transfer of power. At this moment, there is an armed insurrection at the US Capitol—on the day that the votes of the Electoral College were to be tallied and certified by Congress. This insurrection strikes at the heart of our system of government and undermines faith in our democracy.
Code for America calls for an immediate cessation of violence and all insurrectionists to leave the grounds of the Capitol. Once order is restored, Congress should continue its constitutional obligation of counting electoral votes so that the peaceful transfer of power can continue.
When this crisis is over, Code for America stands ready to work with leaders at the federal, state, and local level to rebuild faith in our institutions and commitment to democracy for all. If this episode demonstrates anything, it’s that we cannot simply return to the past. Instead, we must design a just, equitable, and resilient government that meets the needs of all people in America.