January 05, 2024

On January 6, All That Separated Me From the Rioters Was 30 Seconds | Opinion

Three years ago this week, our democracy almost failed. 

Since the attempted insurrection, the Congressional Committee on January 6th and courtrooms across America have produced thousands of pages of testimony, countless depositions, and miles of video and security footage detailing the events of that day. 

But, I have a story that has never been told about how close our country came — and we came pretty damn close to an angry mob overthrowing our election and our Constitution. I was one of the last Members to be evacuated from the House Gallery before Capitol Police had to block the doors, leaving two dozen of my colleagues locked in the House Chamber while insurrectionists swarmed.

30 seconds. That was how much time separated us and the insurrectionists — about as long as it will have taken you to read this far.


You can see it with your own eyes in the security footage above. 30 seconds was the difference between democracy and chaos — between life and death for Members of Congress running for our lives as we dashed across the hallway and ducked into an elevator to safety on January 6th, 2021. 

As you watch the video, note that the insurrectionists look to be hunting for Members of Congress, checking the doors and windows. Notice their backpacks. Were these men armed, like their fellow rioters who entered the building with weapons, including bear mace and zip ties?

I have often wondered what they planned to do to us.

Would they have killed us? Taken us hostage? Attacked or injured us so we couldn’t go back to certify the election? Whatever might have happened, it likely would have been a spur-of-the-moment decision driven by rage, adrenaline, and the ‘Big Lie’ spread by the former president.

We may never know. 

You will recall that in early 2021, Democrats held a very slim majority in the House — you could count it on one hand. If Members had died or landed in the hospital that night, the insurrection might have succeeded.

Luckily, that wasn’t the case, thanks to 1,000 acts of courage by Capitol and Metropolitan Police officers.

After five hours of struggle between the police and the insurrectionists, the House did return to the chamber late that night to certify the election. Selfless leaders, including Liz Cheney and Hakeem Jeffries, insisted that we finish the work of the American people. Thanks to them, America woke up to the certification of the free and fair election of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. 

Every day, I am grateful for the officer who saved my life and the brave citizens who saved our democracy. Every day, I am reminded that our nation’s future is too important to let extreme Republicans whitewash our history

January 6th represents many things: how fragile our democracy is, the threat of the ‘Big Lie,’ and the danger of disinformation. But it also represents incredible hope that we can endure hardships and that our democracy is worth fighting for.

In just two weeks, my home state of New Hampshire will vote in the first Presidential Primary of the 2024 Election. I plan to vote for President Joe Biden, and I have friends and neighbors who plan to vote for Nikki Haley or Chris Christie. Despite our differences, we can all agree that an insurrectionist does not belong in the White House. Ever.

Our democracy is too important.

By:  New Democrat Coalition Chair Annie Kuster
Source: Newsweek