Today is exactly two weeks since the terrorist attack on the Capitol. I was in the middle of my statistics class when the flicker of the tv caught my eye. People were storming the steps of the Capitol. My phone went off, “Something is going on at the Capitol. Are we under attack? Are you near a tv?” is the text I received from a friend who works on the Senate side of Congress. For the next couple of hours, I received updates from this friend. One of which was letting us in his group chat know that he and his small staff were going to start putting their ID cards inside their shirts as well as pieces of paper identifying next of kin…just in case. Their colleagues could hear the insurrectionists screaming obscenities, threatening death and mutilation, and urinating on their office doors. Their offices were ransacked, and they were exposed to Covid-19.
It felt awful to know that the enemy to the State lies within our own borders.
The destruction of the building that houses our democracy was so overwhelming. I have spent so much time on Capitol Hill that I have created personal relationships with people working in different government branches. I have walked those halls with sore legs and a temperamental j-pouch to tell the stories of Americans in need to Congress members. I have never overpowered the Capitol police officers or threaten to kill a member of Congress because I had a grievance over their governing. Even when their negligence threatens the very health of myself and my family. Instead, I gather letters and stories of everyday Americans. I pack my bags, fly across the country, leaving my child and spend the day going from office to office, pleading my case for a better healthcare system. When I get home, I follow up via email and phone calls to remind them to continue to work on the piece of legislation I lobbied for. Why? Because I respect my home (country), and I understand that democracy was made for us to have an active part in its growth and evolution. I know that it is a marathon and not a sprint. That it isn’t about everything I want, but the greater good of an entire nation. And so as I read the tests from friends under siege and watched the horror on screen, I cried.
Today I cried. I cried tears of joy and relief. After four years of gridlock, objection, and an all out assault on healthcare, social justice and decency, we have a chance to reset and restart ourselves. We have an opportunity to take a hard look at ourselves and start to live the creed of E. Pluribus Unum: Out of many, one. Have the uncomfortable conversations, grab one another in the fiercest of hugs and move toward governing. Making sure that equity and equality are guiding light of reshaping our hearts and soul to be the very best versions of ourselves.
As an advocate, I am incredibly excited with to work with this new class of congressional leaders on the healthcare needs of the American citizens. I am excited to see what the Biden Administation’s theme of healthcare looks like. Will we be turning the tide on the pandemic, research budget increases, healthcare coverage and drug pricing? Are we going to start including the caregivers in any piece of legislation affecting patients with chronic conditions? Will we be focusing on Black maternal healthcare and the health disparities of people of color? Specifically people living on or near reservation nation lands. Are we going to make systemic racism a priorpirty to address and kill once and for all, as it continues to infect the foundations of all of our basics? Work, health, education, and voting.
All of these things need to be address all while fighting a pandemic that has been running rampant without direction. But the President and his administration cannot just snap his fingers and fix all of these issues. It’s going to take the work and the will of the people to remind this administration and the Congress what is helping, hurting and obstructing us from progressing. Democracy doesn’t begin and end with the leadership. It begins with the people and it ends with your voice. Write your letters, sign up for advocacy days with non profits, call the offices of your congressional leaders. Keep going! The health and wealth of this nation is dependent upon all of it’s people, not just a select few. Together we can be better. Together we can thrive. It’s going to take every single one of us. No group unrepresented! United. Together. Moving forward.