WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Martin Luther King Jr. Day and the beginning of inauguration week, the two Congressman representing parts of southern Oregon released statements addressing King's legacy, the coming administration change, and the U.S. Capitol insurrection earlier this month.
Rep. Cliff Bentz, a Republican, said that he would attend the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris this week — calling for peace, justice, and cooperation in paying tribute to King's legacy:
“As our country observes Martin Luther King Jr. Day, we pay tribute to the incredible life and meaningful legacy of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. His peaceful calls for justice, during a time of great division in our nation appealed to the better angels of our nature and advanced the cause of freedom for many who were being denied their constitutional and inalienable rights.
“In many ways, our country continues to work toward fulfilling the dream envisioned by Dr. King. There is no doubt that we must continue this work together, peacefully, as we should all issues confronting our great nation. This year in particular, we are reminded that there can be no justice when those who claim to pursue it employ only violence and destruction.
“The tragic events that took place at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, reflect what happens when individuals and groups decide to resort to violence to achieve power. The outcome was disastrous. In the aftermath, many have gone to jail. Many have, and will be fired from their jobs, as they pay a price for their criminal actions. Violence against our democratic republic should not be tolerated.
“There have been many responses to the defilement of our Capitol, but particularly necessary is the need to remind all Americans that our political process - while imperfect - works. It is the best system we have, and violent actions to undermine it are illegal, ineffective, and unnecessary. We must prove that there are viable political solutions and that by working together we can achieve them.
“Later this week, I will be attending the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. I plan to do so, despite those who think I should not participate in this event. Notably, these calls for protest by not attending are not unlike those that were made - and acted upon - by democrats during the inauguration of President Donald Trump in 2017. I will not repeat their mistake. We must also prove, together, that we will make our systems of government more transparent, responsive, and accountable to the people. This means addressing the widespread perception, right or wrong, that our elections systems aren’t working as well as they should.
“As the elected Representative of Oregon's Second Congressional District, it has been my goal to restore that confidence. Moving forward, I am committed to increasing awareness of the election processes we have in place in Oregon, working with others to correct imperfections in America's election systems, and making sure that every state's election process reflects the voice of the people and is consistent with our Constitution.
“I know that both parties can come together around viable solutions to our biggest issues. We have done it before, and it is essential to the survival of our democracy. This work will not be easy, but if there ever was a day to recommit our nation to the belief that democracy advances the cause of liberty and justice for all - let it be on this special day recognizing the great Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.”
Rep. Peter DeFazio, in his statement, also addressed the need to overcome white supremacy and reform the nation's criminal justice system:
“Reflecting on a year where our nation has faced so many challenges—from the ongoing pandemic, which has taken nearly 400,000 American lives, to our painful and ongoing reckoning with racial injustice following the tragic death of George Floyd, to the vicious attack on our Capitol by white supremacists, I take comfort from Dr. King’s powerful words:
‘The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and conveniences, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.’
“As we await the inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, our nation’s first Black woman vice-president, I stand ready to tackle the challenges our nation faces head-on.
“With a Democratic House, Senate, and President we will overcome the COVID-19 pandemic. We will work to overcome white supremacy and reform our criminal justice system. We will work to expand voting rights, roll back the voter suppression tactics of the Trump era, and fight to get dark money out of politics—restoring the voice of the people and the promise of our system of representative democracy. And we will rebuild this nation by enacting a comprehensive infrastructure proposal that will help all communities thrive and grow and prosper.
“I look forward to the work we will achieve these next four years, and I promise I will never stop fighting to better the lives of the American people and to defend our country and system of government.”