U.S. Rep. Jake Auchincloss, the Newton Democrat, was sworn into office on Sunday, Jan. 3. On Wednesday, as thousands of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol in Washington, D.C., he was in his office preparing to certify the Electoral College vote when the mob took over parts of the building.
“I was not there. I was in my office and I remained in my office,” Auchincloss said.
“It’s appalling,” Auchincloss said of the mob, described by fellow representatives as insurrectionists. “And, it represents the worst strain of the American character. It is a reflection of what happens when the most powerful person in the country has a temper tantrum. It’s pathetic … Congress needs to step up and do its constitutional duty to safeguard the peaceful transition of power,” Auchincloss said. “And I say that explicitly to congressional Republicans.”
In an interview on Wednesday, shortly after police and law enforcement had secured the Capitol, Auchincloss reflected on the day and his duty. “This is a dark day for democracy, and we are not going to [let it] define our democracy, and we are going to go back into session and certify the Electoral College vote and Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will be the next president and vice president of the United States,” Auchincloss said.
Auchincloss, who is Jewish and whose family has Chelsea roots, served in the Marine Corps. A former Newton city councilor, he was elected to his first term in November. Because of physical distancing requirements due to the coronavirus pandemic, members of Congress were voting in waves and his wave was not voting at the time protestors made their way to the House chamber.
Auchincloss believes Wednesday’s storming or the Capitol should serve as a stark reminder of how much hatred and intolerance has swept across America “All Americans should be concerned. Whenever hatred and violence rears their head, all Americans should be concerned and Jewish Americans as well,” he said. “When there is hatred and violence and intolerance, we are always in the front of the line.”
Auchincloss warned that if the storming of the Capitol didn’t show his fellow representatives the harm being caused to democracy, then it is unclear what will.
When asked about the fact that lawmakers questioning the outcomes of the presidential election are not questioning the outcomes of their own elections, Auchincloss said, “It’s ironic and curious that the Georgia members of Congress who are challenging the results think they should be seated as well.”
“The important thing, though, is that we need to stay strong for two more weeks,” Auchincloss said. He is also confident the new Biden administration will work with state and local officials on the pandemic and to vaccinate 1 million people in the first 100 days following the Jan. 20 inaugural, while also tackling core challenges of climate change and social justice.