January 6th of 2021 was a day that many of us won’t forget – a day filled with trauma, fear, nervousness, and shock as we all watched a mob of insurrectionists violently storm our Capitol, attack police officers, terrorize our lawmakers, and threaten our Democracy. The vivid images of crowds in MAGA and riot gear chanting things like “take it back” and “U.S.A.” remain clear in many Americans’ heads.
I clearly remember the feeling of helplessness and anguish as I sat at home with my husband and three children and watched Trump supporters breach the security barriers outside the Capitol in the name of their former President.
I listened in despair as President Trump spoke at a press conference just outside the White House, moments before the attack, encouraging his followers to “walk down to the Capitol” to “take back our country” not with “weakness” but “with strength.”
His baseless claims about voter fraud and a rigged election fueled the fury of his supporters outside the Capitol and emboldened them to act out in violence with no regard for our Democracy.
But as many of us use the anniversary of this devastating attack to reflect on the past year, our far-right counterparts have already begun to rewrite history. Many of them have baselessly claimed that the entire event was a hoax and premeditated set-up by the FBI or the Democrats.
At the same time, some Congressional representatives have refused to support the establishment of a special commission or committee to investigate the insurrection and its participants.
This attempt to rewrite history can set a dangerous precedent but at this moment, we all have the opportunity to do better. This is not an issue for the left or the right to deal with, but a critical moment for all of us to unite and move forward as a Democracy.
The reality is that January 6th was just a small glimpse into the world that can erupt if we continue to elect leaders who lead with fear, anger, hatred, and violence as opposed to courage, acceptance, and principle.
The insurrection left many right-wing conservatives with their own distorted reality, but it also left everyone else with a taste of the world that would exist if we allow hatred and entitlement to govern our country. If the right people don’t stand up for what is right, our future – and our children’s future – is in jeopardy.
I am running to represent New York’s Third Congressional District because as a mom of three, I want to help create a world where unity is part of our core values. I’m running to create a world for them that is defined by love and compassion for our neighbors – even the ones we don’t know and have never met. I’m running because care for our communities looks like paid family leave, free childcare, universal preschool, affordable care for our seniors, and a healthy planet for my children to grow old in.
I’m running because our children deserve a world free from the COVID pandemic, just as much as they deserve a world free from the gun violence pandemic. And I’m running because we urgently need to pass voting rights legislation so everyone can have a say in the policies that shape our lives.
For four years, President Trump fueled the fears of the right with hate speech, unfounded conspiracy theories, and by feeding into racist generalizations of minority groups – yet working-poor families across the country continued to face many of the same hardships that they had been facing for generations.
What working families need right now is a leader who is willing to put them first and who will ensure they receive the resources they need to get through this pandemic and beyond.
As a lifelong New Yorker, I understand the adversity and inequity that working-poor families face because I’ve lived it.
Now, I am running for Congress because together we can create a better, more just government that works for, not against, our families. We need change and with me, Long Islanders will see that change.
Melanie D’Arrigo is a healthcare advocate, community organizer, and mother of three who is currently running as a progressive Democrat in New York’s 3rd Congressional District.