We Shall Overcome

Remarks as delivered on the Senate Floor, January 6th, 2020

I can only think of two times in American history that individuals laid siege to our Capitol, stormed our sacred civic spaces and tried to upend and overrun this government.

One was in the War of 1812, and the other one was today.

What’s interesting about the parallel between the two is they both were waving flags to a sole sovereign, to an individual, surrendering democratic principles to the cult of personality.

One was a monarch in England, and the other were the flags I saw all over our Capitol, including in the hallways, and in this room, to a single person named Donald Trump.

The sad difference between these two times was one was yet another nation, in the history of our country, that tried to challenge the United States of America.

But this time, we brought this hell upon ourselves.

My colleague from Texas said that this was a moment where there were unprecedented allegations of voter fraud.

Yes, that is true. They were unprecedented when the President before the election even happened, said: If I lose this election, then the election was rigged.

That’s unprecedented.

It’s unprecedented, before the night of the voting, the counting of the vote was even done, that he called it rigged.

And it’s unprecedented that he’s fanning the flames of conspiracy theory to create a smokescreen in this nation to cover what he is trying to do, which is undermine our democratic principles.

But it’s not just that, the shame of this day is it’s being aided and abetted by good Americans who are falling prey, who are choosing Trump over truth, who are surrendering to the passion of lies as opposed to standing up and speaking truth to power; who are trying to fundraise off of the shame of conspiracy theories, as opposed to doing the incalculably valuable, patriotic thing to speak truth to our nation.

Our democracy is wounded and I saw it when I saw pictures of yet another insurgency of a flag of another group of Americans who tried to challenge our nation, I saw the flag of the Confederacy there.

What will we do? How will we confront this shame? How will we confront this dark, second time in American history?

I pray that we remember a Georgian, and his words.

All I can say is we must in spirit join together like those Georgians on a bridge called the Edmund Pettus, who joined hands, who were called threats to our democracy, who were called outrageous epithets when they sought to expand our democracy, to save it, to heal it.

When they joined arm in arm and said what we should say now — commit ourselves to that ideal, that together: We Shall Overcome.

Watch Cory Booker’s full remarks

U.S. Senator from New Jersey

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