On the eve of the one year anniversary of the Jan. 6 attacks on the U.S. Capitol, former President Carter urged Americans to come together amid increased political division in the country “before it is too late.”
“Our great nation now teeters on the brink of a widening abyss,” Carter wrote in a guest essay published by The New York Times. “Without immediate action, we are at genuine risk of civil conflict and losing our precious democracy. Americans must set aside differences and work together before it is too late.”
“All four of us former presidents condemned their actions and affirmed the legitimacy of the 2020 election,” he also wrote of the attack on Jan. 6.
“There followed a brief hope that the insurrection would shock the nation into addressing the toxic polarization that threatens our democracy,” Carter said. “However, one year on, promoters of the lie that the election was stolen have taken over one political party and stoked distrust in our electoral systems.”
At the time of the insurrection, former President Trump repeatedly claimed, without evidence, that the 2020 election was marred by widespread voter fraud. He also maintained that the election was “stolen” and he and his legal team issued dozens of mostly unsuccessful legal challenges in several swing states.
Following the November 2020 contest, though, both federal and state elections officials (including Trump’s former attorney general, William Barr) affirmed that there was no substantial evidence of widespread voter fraud.
In his essay on Wednesday, Carter added that the life of American democracy was dependent on demanding “that our leaders and candidates uphold the ideals of freedom and adhere to high standards of conduct.”
The former president urged Americans to agree on constitutional principles and norms of fairness and respect for the law as well as to push for reforms to ensure accurate and accessible elections. He also called upon the public to condemn violence and polarization and to counter the spread of disinformation, among other concerns.
Thursday will mark the one-year anniversary of the attack on the U.S. Capitol when a pro-Trump mob stormed the building, breaching Capitol security and ransacking lawmakers’ offices in an effort to halt the certification of the 2020 election results.
The rioters eventually made their way into both chambers of Congress while lawmakers were forced to hide in undisclosed locations. Several people died as a result of the attack.
The Department of Justice has charged over 700 people in connection with the insurrection, and Attorney General Merrick Garland said on Wednesday the department “remains committed to holding all January 6 perpetrators at any level, accountable under law.”