MORRISTOWN – There are those on the far right who still claim the mob that stormed the Capitol one year ago today were some type of modern day patriots – contemporary versions of Nathan Hale and Patrick Henry,
Tim Dougherty, the mayor of this historic town, may have had such insane belief in mind tonight when he told a candlelight vigil commemorating the event – “They’re not patriots, they’re traitors,”
The mayor acknowledged that not all public officials speak so freely. Dougherty indicated he had no real choice, noting the rioters were after Mike Pence, the vice president.
Summing up a message heard often today, the mayor added, “We can’t let anyone at any time take our freedom away.”
About 200 people were assembled before the mayor on the steps of town hall. Considering temperatures at the freezing mark it was a good turnout.
The vigil was sponsored by Morris County Democrats and the League of Women Voters of the Morristown area.
It was, the organizers stressed, a non-partisan event.
But in today’s climate, that’s not as simple as it seems.
Amalia Duarte, an organizer of the event and a committeewoman in Mendham Township, invited local Republicans to attend.
This is a tough invite for Republicans, many of whom fear the “Trump cult,” notwithstanding a presumed desire by at least some to support democracy.
The Morris County Republican Committee declined an invite to co-sponsor the event. Duarte did say that she got individual replies from state Sen. Anthony M. Bucco and county Surrogate Heather Darling, Both said they had other commitments.
There were a number of speakers, some of whom mentioned the need for voting guarantees – now a contentious issue in Congress. Duarte said last year’s event shows how “fragile” democracy is.
But it was Dougherty who struck the appropriate historical note.
George Washington most famously spent time in and around Morristown, he reminded the audience. So what better place to renew a commitment to the rule of law and democratic ideals. And by candlelight no less.