We are living through a defining moment in our nation’s history.

On Jan. 6, a joint session of Congress convened to certify the electoral votes of the 2020 presidential election and the decisive victory of Joe Biden over Donald Trump. The certification by Congress is always considered ceremonial, but one of the critical mechanisms we use to show a peaceful transfer of power, which is absolutely essential to a functioning democracy.

But, as with everything related to Donald Trump, the ceremonial, but critically important elements to project a peaceful, democratic transfer of power, were twisted, distorted, and corrupted for personal gain over national interest.

From refusing to concede, despite losing by over seven million votes, to filing and losing over 60 lawsuits, to threatening to bring criminal charges against the Georgia Secretary of State if he didn’t “find more votes,” the president’s attempts to overturn the will of the people was unprecedented. Yet, having failed at all of those attempts, he went even further by pressuring Republicans in Congress, who sadly bent to his will once again, to object to the state certifications. The number of Republicans who objected, and the number of states they objected to, was also unprecedented.

Unsurprisingly, this wasn’t enough for the president or for some of his enablers in Congress. After repeatedly encouraging, cajoling, and sending dog whistles throughout his presidency to neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and anarchists, he directed them to come to Washington to protest the electoral certification. He tried to stop Congress from declaring Joe Biden president. He tried to stop the important institutional mechanisms for a smooth transfer of power from moving forward.

The groups and individuals, the very ones he told to “stand back and stand by,” headed to the Capitol, with guns, pipe bombs, and zip ties in hand, to “hang Mike Pence,” hunt down Nancy Pelosi, stop the lawful workings of Congress, and wreak havoc on our nation’s Capitol. Police were assaulted and beaten, the Vice President, Senators, and members of Congress were hunted, staff were terrorized, and journalists were attacked. A noose and gallows were erected. Windows were shattered and the hallowed halls of Congress were desecrated. Six people died.

The president’s defense, that he told these armed insurrectionists to “protest peacefully” and expected them therefore to do so, lacks even the slightest hint of credibility. What he did, inciting a mob to violently attack the Capitol, is beyond any reasonable doubt the very definition of sedition.

I took an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, and I take that oath very seriously. We could not simply let it slide, knowing he’d be gone in a week. We could not let Trump’s actions go unaccounted. We could not let our democracy take this blow unanswered.

On Monday, our nation will pause to remember and honor the life and legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention his words that so aptly come to mind during this time.

He once stated, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” I could not agree more.

The vote to impeach was not a political one — because before we are Democrats and Republicans, we are Americans. It was a vote of conscience — a vote that reaffirmed that no one is above the law, especially not the President of the United States who is charged with upholding it. It was a vote to defend, preserve, and honor our democracy.

Originally published in the Ventura County Star.