January 6, 2021, forced us to face the very worst of America, and witness how close we are to losing our democracy, once a beacon for the world. That beacon is now doused and we face a long road of restoration, reform, and repair.

Our political system of representative government was designed with elected leadership, constrained by the Constitution, the rule of law, and the separation of powers. We have witnessed these constraints attacked, ignored, and subverted by those we elected and we have seen a rejection of “self-evident” truth for personal gain. All of this resulted in the events of January 6. 

But Congress reconvened and confirmed the election result. Our institutions, tattered and imperfect, held, and the majority of our elected representatives chose democracy and accepted the will of the people.

Helping to repair the damage and demonstrate faith in our system is a role that NCJW women can play by expanding our efforts to protect and promote the vote, the foundation of democracy. The last election saw extraordinarily high voter turnout, but the lies and maneuvers to invalidate the result challenged trust in the system and demonstrated that many voters do not understand the process. Without knowledge, a voter is less able to refute and withstand lies and misdirection. Promoting accurate and ongoing voter education–that not only reinvigorates and expands civics education in all schools, but reaches all adults–is an obvious role for us and our partners.

Education and communication have become reliant on technology, which is a boon but also a means to spread disinformation and subvert democracy. Instead of social media, we need a civil and civic media. We can help to change this culture by supporting regulation and, as we make our voices heard, let us be sure that our words are informed, well-researched, and not just a re-share.

I write this before the inauguration, before we understand the consequences of January 6. I write looking forward, because NCJW women, in the face of adversity, do not sit still, but get to work repairing the foundations of our democracy.

Lesley Frost, Advocacy Chair