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Jimmy Carter warns that America's democracy is at risk in stark January 6 op-ed

'Without immediate action, we are at genuine risk of civil conflict and losing our precious democracy,' the 97-year-old former president wrote.

Jimmy Carter warns that America's democracy is at risk in stark January 6 op-ed
Cover Image Source: Former president Jimmy Carter prior to the game between the Atlanta Falcons and the Cincinnati Bengals at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on September 30, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

In a New York Times op-ed published on the eve of the anniversary of the January 6 insurrection, Former President Jimmy Carter warned Americans democracy is being threatened throughout the country. "One year ago, a violent mob, guided by unscrupulous politicians, stormed the Capitol and almost succeeded in preventing the democratic transfer of power," the 97-year-old wrote. "All four of us former presidents condemned their actions and affirmed the legitimacy of the 2020 election. There followed a brief hope that the insurrection would shock the nation into addressing the toxic polarization that threatens our democracy."


However, as we come upon one year since a mob of supporters of former President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol, Carter continued, "promoters of the lie that the election was stolen have taken over one political party and stoked distrust in our electoral systems. These forces exert power and influence through relentless disinformation, which continues to turn Americans against Americans." As CBS News recounts, the shocking insurrection last year followed a Trump rally near the White House, during which the former president continued to tell his followers that "we will never concede" when it comes to the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.


"All of us here today do not want to see our election victory stolen," Trump told the crowd. "...We will never give up. We will never concede. It doesn't happen. You don't concede when there's theft involved. Our country has had enough, we will not take it anymore, and this is what this is all about." Moments after Trump's calls to "fight like hell," rally-goers stormed the U.S. Capitol, where congressional leaders were meeting to certify President Joe Biden's election win. Four rioters died on that day, and one Capitol police officer who was attacked by rioters died the next day. In the months that followed, four officers who responded that day died by suicide.


"Politicians in my home state of Georgia, as well as in others, such as Texas and Florida, have leveraged the distrust they have created to enact laws that empower partisan legislatures to intervene in election processes," Carter wrote. "They seek to win by any means, and many Americans are being persuaded to think and act likewise, threatening to collapse the foundations of our security and democracy with breathtaking speed. I now fear that what we have fought so hard to achieve globally — the right to free, fair elections, unhindered by strongman politicians who seek nothing more than to grow their own power — has become dangerously fragile at home."


"For American democracy to endure, we must demand that our leaders and candidates uphold the ideals of freedom and adhere to high standards of conduct," he continued. Carter then laid out four ways that Americans can work together—irrespective of their political affiliations—to undo the damage. "First, while citizens can disagree on policies, people of all political stripes must agree on fundamental constitutional principles and norms of fairness, civility and respect for the rule of law," he wrote. "Second, we must push for reforms that ensure the security and accessibility of our elections and ensure public confidence in the accuracy of results."


The third way, according to Carter, is by resisting "the polarization that is reshaping our identities around politics. We must focus on a few core truths: that we are all human, we are all Americans and we have common hopes for our communities and our country to thrive." We must also "act urgently to pass or strengthen laws to reverse the trends of character assassination, intimidation and the presence of armed militias at events," he wrote. "Lastly, the spread of disinformation, especially on social media, must be addressed. We must reform these platforms and get in the habit of seeking out accurate information."


"Our great nation now teeters on the brink of a widening abyss. 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," Carter concluded.

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