Joe Biden studies the audience at Netroots Nation during his Thursday afternoon keynote. (Photo: Andrew Villeneuve/NPI)

Fol­low­ing today’s hor­ri­fy­ing and entire­ly pre­dictable ter­ror­ist attack on the Unit­ed States Capi­tol, Pres­i­dent-elect Joe Biden and Wash­ing­ton State Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee each spoke out in the strongest pos­si­ble terms against the vio­lence and called for the insur­rec­tion to be put down as swift­ly as possible.

Here’s what they each had to say.

President-elect Joe Biden

Remarks as pre­pared for delivery:

At this hour, our democ­ra­cy is under an unprece­dent­ed assault.

An assault on the Capi­tol itself.

An assault on the people’s rep­re­sen­ta­tives, on the police offi­cers sworn to pro­tect them, and the pub­lic ser­vants who work at the heart of our Republic.

An assault on the rule of law.

An assault on the most sacred of Amer­i­can under­tak­ings: The doing of the people’s business.

Let me be very clear: The scenes of chaos at the Capi­tol do not reflect the true America.

This is not who we are.

What we are see­ing is a small num­ber of extrem­ists ded­i­cat­ed to lawlessness.

This is not dis­sent. It is dis­or­der. It is chaos. It bor­ders on sedition.

And it must end. Now.

I call on this mob to pull back and allow the work of democ­ra­cy to go forward.

You’ve heard me say this in dif­fer­ent con­texts: the words of a Pres­i­dent mat­ter, no mat­ter how good or bad that pres­i­dent is.

At their best, the words of a pres­i­dent can inspire.

At their worst, they can incite.

There­fore, I call on Pres­i­dent Trump to go on nation­al tele­vi­sion, now, to ful­fill his oath and defend the Con­sti­tu­tion and demand an end to this siege.

To storm the Capi­tol, to smash win­dows, to occu­py offices, and to threat­en the safe­ty of duly elect­ed offi­cials is not protest.

It is insurrection.

The world is watch­ing — and like so many oth­er Amer­i­cans, I am shocked and sad­dened that our nation, so long a bea­con of light, hope, and democ­ra­cy has come to such a dark moment.

Through war and strife, Amer­i­ca has endured much. And we will endure here and pre­vail now.

The work of the moment and the work of the next four years must be the restora­tion of democ­ra­cy and the recov­ery of respect for the rule of law, and the renew­al of a pol­i­tics that’s about solv­ing prob­lems — not stok­ing the flames of hate and chaos.

Amer­i­ca is about hon­or, decen­cy, respect, and tolerance.

That’s who we are. That’s who we’ve always been.

The cer­ti­fi­ca­tion of the Elec­toral Col­lege votes is sup­posed to be a sacred rit­u­al in which we affirm the majesty of Amer­i­can democracy.

Today is a reminder, a painful one, that democ­ra­cy is fragile.

To pre­serve it requires peo­ple of good will, lead­ers with the courage to stand up, who are devot­ed not to pur­suit of pow­er and per­son­al inter­est at any cost, but to the com­mon good.

Think of what our chil­dren who are watch­ing are think­ing. Think of what the rest of the world is look­ing at.

For near­ly two and a half cen­turies, we the peo­ple, in search of a more per­fect union, have kept our eyes on that com­mon good.

Amer­i­ca is so much bet­ter than what we’re see­ing today.

Watch­ing the scenes from the Capi­tol, I was remind­ed of Abra­ham Lincoln’s words in an annu­al mes­sage to the Con­gress whose work has today been inter­rupt­ed by chaos.

Pres­i­dent Lin­coln said: “We shall nobly save or mean­ly lose, the last best hope of earth….The way is plain, peace­ful, gen­er­ous, just — a way which, if fol­lowed, the world will for­ev­er applaud, and God must for­ev­er bless.”

Our way is plain here, too. It is the way of democ­ra­cy, of law­ful­ness, and of hon­or — respect for each oth­er, and for our nation.

Notwith­stand­ing what we’ve seen today, I remain opti­mistic about the incred­i­ble opportunities.

There has nev­er been any­thing we can’t do when we do it togeth­er. And this God-awful dis­play today is bring­ing home to every Repub­li­can, Demo­c­rat, and Inde­pen­dent in the nation that we must step up.

This is the Unit­ed States of America.

Pres­i­dent Trump, step up.

May God Bless America.

May God pro­tect our troops and every­one at the Capi­tol who is try­ing to pro­tect the order.

Governor Jay Inslee


Good evening.

First, I just want to say that Tru­di and I are at the res­i­dence tonight and we’re doing just fine. Thank you to all those who expressed con­cern, but we are doing quite well. Thank you.

Today has been a very tumul­tuous day for Amer­i­cans and Wash­ing­to­ni­ans, for obvi­ous reasons.

On a day in our nation’s cap­i­tal, where we were to effec­tu­ate the most impor­tant act of our democ­ra­cy — the peace­ful trans­fer of pow­er — was force­ful­ly inter­rupt­ed by those who refuse to accept ver­dicts of the peo­ple, the courts and the truth itself.

Here in our cap­i­tal on a day that was to be ded­i­cat­ed to prepar­ing for the open­ing day of our leg­isla­tive ses­sion, so that we could address our chal­lenges, includ­ing the pan­dem­ic, that work was force­ful­ly inter­rupt­ed by sim­i­lar acts of attempt­ed intimidation.

But I have good news to share with my fel­low Washingtonians.

Those acts of intim­i­da­tion will not suc­ceed in any way shape or form. We will con­tin­ue the work we are doing to pro­tect the health of Wash­ing­to­ni­ans. In D.C., Con­gress will fol­low the will of the Amer­i­can peo­ple and take yet anoth­er step on the long march to pro­tect­ing people’s right to self-gov­ern­ment that has so far suc­ceed­ed through cen­turies of fre­quent ten­sion in our politics.

I know we are going through a moment of great tur­moil. Pas­sions are high, in part because we have suf­fered ser­i­al and con­stant untruths being told to cit­i­zens from the high­est office of the land. I am con­fi­dent we will over­come this, as we have in the past, and we will restore the abil­i­ty to per­pet­u­ate self-governance.

I am con­fi­dent that our work here in the state’s cap­i­tal will be sim­i­lar­ly pro­duc­tive begin­ning next week when the leg­is­la­tors, Repub­li­cans and Democ­rats, meet to try to fash­ion joint res­o­lu­tions to our challenges.

I revile these acts of sedi­tion and intim­i­da­tion that we have seen in our coun­try today. I call on all elect­ed lead­ers to con­demn this. I espe­cial­ly encour­age the Repub­li­can Par­ty to do some soul search­ing. It’s time to stop pan­der­ing to falsehoods.

This is about more than one failed pres­i­den­cy: Every­one has a role to play in get­ting dis­in­for­ma­tion out of our civic discourse.

Togeth­er, that spir­it will lead to suc­cess­ful efforts here in our state’s cap­i­tal and in our nation’s capital.

I would like to thank our brave mem­bers of the State Patrol for what they had to deal with today and for their role in pro­tect­ing democ­ra­cy. I’ve also been made aware that jour­nal­ists were threat­ened with vio­lence on the Capi­tol cam­pus today, and I want to thank them for their per­sis­tence in cov­er­ing today’s events and giv­ing peo­ple the objec­tive truth of what has happened.

I want to express a per­son­al sen­ti­ment that I felt today, and I think that many feel, and that is a sense of out­rage and frankly anger at the sight of peo­ple seiz­ing the citadel of democ­ra­cy, show­ing oafish behav­ior in the cham­ber of the U.S. Sen­ate, where so many Repub­li­can and Demo­c­ra­t­ic lead­ers have par­tic­i­pat­ed in great debates. Today was no debate of ideas, it was juve­nile and dan­ger­ous intimidation.

I know that we have to find a way to work togeth­er to the ben­e­fit of all our cit­i­zens, Repub­li­cans and Democ­rats alike. And I think it would do us well to harken back to what Pres­i­dent Abra­ham Lin­coln said dur­ing anoth­er time of nation­al tension.

He said this: ‘Though pas­sion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affec­tion. The mys­tic chords of mem­o­ry, stretch­ing from every bat­tle-field, and patri­ot grave, to every liv­ing heart and hearth­stone, all over this broad land, will yet swell the cho­rus of the Union, when again touched, as sure­ly they will be, by the bet­ter angels of our nature.’

In this day of great assaults on democ­ra­cy, let us all seek that high­er plane which calls us to seek com­mon ground even in the face of out­ra­geous con­duct. This is a most dif­fi­cult task, but we are all called to it tonight.

Be well. We’re going to get through this. Thank you, and goodnight.

We thank Gov­er­nor Inslee and Pres­i­dent-elect Biden for their lead­er­ship in these extreme­ly dif­fi­cult and dis­turb­ing circumstances.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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