Today's Events in the Nation's Capital

Wednesday, January 06, 2021

Dear campus community,

As many of you likely did, I found today’s events in our nation’s capital shocking, disturbing and, sadly, not unexpected. For more than 200 years, the U.S. has distinguished itself from almost every other nation on earth with the peaceful transfer of political power. Today, a group of Americans, encouraged by the president of the United States, attempted to undo that and rock the very foundations of a democratic society. This was not a political protest but a violent assault and an act of domestic terrorism. As I have said previously, our democratic traditions are both imperfect and fragile. Our goal as a society and as a University should be to ensure that we more equitably meet democracy’s promise for all people. 

I remember being struck in 2000, when, as vice president, Al Gore certified George Bush’s election and congratulated him. I marveled in January 2017, when Hillary Clinton attended Donald Trump’s inauguration and shared her congratulations despite the vicious personal attacks she experienced during the campaign. The peaceful transfer of power demanded their attendance and affirmations. Democracy requires it.

I have no confidence that we will see the same graciousness later this month when Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are sworn in. I also fear that we will see more violence between now and then. As we wrestle yet again with another national tragedy, I urge you to look for signs of change. President-elect Biden’s cabinet and senior positions reflect the diversity of our country in unprecedented ways. Citizens in Georgia proved yet again that ordinary people can change the course of history. And COVID-19 vaccines will ultimately allow us to return to work and campus.

Some may see Inauguration Day as a day to celebrate that your candidate won. And it surely is, but it is much more than that. It is the ritual expression of the peaceful transfer of power that serves as the foundation of a democratic society. We should take great pride in this. I encourage you all, as work allows, to take time away from your desks on Wednesday, January 20, 2021 to watch Joseph Biden sworn in as the 46th president of the United States and to witness Kamala Harris, the first Black and South Asian woman, sworn in as vice president. I urge my colleagues to schedule only those meetings absolutely critical that morning and reschedule all others. Instead, I urge us all to participate together, albeit remotely, in celebrating yet another successful democratically determined transfer of power.


Lynn's Signature

Lynn Mahoney, Ph.D.