By Rep. Joe Moody

Yesterday saw the very foundations of our representative government shaken by naked fascism.

Joe Moody

Let me first say what needs to be echoed by every patriot in a position of public trust: I’ll fight for our democracy and all the people it serves with every fiber of my being, now and forever. That means ending the resentment-stirring, reality-defying, hate-mongering politics of extremism, now and forever.

Donald Trump and his shameless Texas cronies like Ted Cruz and Ken Paxton have betrayed American values and sold their souls for fleeting political power. Their message of division — a cynical one I know they themselves don’t even believe in — has directly led to tragedies like the racially motivated mass murder of 23 El Pasoans just last year. They’ve sown the seeds of a violence they could never control that sprouted into outright domestic terrorism at our Capitol yesterday.

We can’t condone or ignore that, but we also can’t perpetuate it. I almost wrote that “we’re better than that,” but that just isn’t the truth. Collectively, we haven’t been better than that in some time. But we can be.

Whatever our other disagreements, we must join in rejecting a way of life that casts other Americans as sworn enemies. I tell you from the heart that I believe our country won’t survive much longer as a bastion of progress and prosperity if we don’t change course now.

I’m reminded of John Adams, who just months before signing the Declaration of Independence worried about a government where people could “obtain an influence, by noise not sense. By meanness, not greatness. By ignorance not learning. By contracted hearts not large souls.” The only shield against that, he wrote, is a baseline of “decency, and respect.” That’s what we have to strive for ourselves and absolutely demand of our leaders.

This isn’t a call for respectability, but for respect itself. We must hold those who’ve perverted our system accountable, but also embrace reconciliation to break this cycle. It’s not too late.

For now, let the disgraceful violence on Capitol Hill be the bitter death rattle of contempt as a political platform. Now is the time for leadership rooted in love that affirms both our shared values and the democracy that’s served our people since Adams’ time a quarter millennium ago.

We can — we must — save this country together.

Joe Moody represents El Paso’s District 79 in the Texas House of Representatives and serves as speaker pro tempore.