We’ve been through a lot in the past year. Our state and our nation have been battered by a relentless pandemic, economic chaos, and a long overdue reckoning with racial injustice. Political fault lines grew deeper throughout the election year. Then last week, we experienced the unthinkable—an armed, bloody insurrection in the Capitol. Incited by the president of the United States and his allies, a mob sought to upend the sacred process of certifying a legitimate election.
This event was horrifying on many levels: the violent attack on our democracy, the blatant and unchecked display of white supremacy, and the careless disregard for public health in the midst of a worsening pandemic. In the aftermath, our country is searching for ways to move forward. There must first be meaningful consequences for the people who committed these despicable acts. We must also hold accountable those who misinformed, misled, and misdirected their followers by undermining the results of a free and fair election. For too long, lies and conspiracy theories have kept us from working together to address our nation’s critical challenges. That must now change.
Here at PPIC, we reaffirm our belief in the power of shared knowledge and facts to build a better future for our state. Today, our work feels more important than ever. Despite its great wealth, California has the highest poverty rate in the nation. Even though the state is a leader in environmental protections, many Californians lack access to safe drinking water and live in communities plagued by dangerous pollution. As our tech sector booms, too many of our schoolchildren are on the wrong side of the digital divide. Our public universities are world class, but a majority of our highschoolers never attend them. These are the realities–intensified by the pandemic—that the leaders of our state must confront, with particular focus on how these disparities disproportionately harm communities of color.
We condemn what happened in the Capitol on January 6 in the strongest possible terms. This type of violence must be seen for what it is—an existential threat to our democracy. The path forward will not be easy. It will require confronting uncomfortable truths and deeply-rooted barriers to equity and opportunity. And it will mean establishing the confidence and trust that allow people with different points of view to work honestly, respectfully, and collaboratively on our shared challenges. PPIC is committed to providing the nonpartisan information and civil dialogue that are so essential during this time of upheaval. We are looking forward to the work ahead.