Today marks a grim anniversary for American democracy. One year ago, we had reason to question whether there would be a peaceful transition of power for the first time since the Civil War. Even though power did shift as the majority of voters sought, the specter of what happened, when rioters stormed the Capitol in an effort to block the certification of the election, still hangs over the nation.

What have we learned?

The select committee convened by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to investigate the events of Jan. 6, 2021, has heard from over 300 witnesses and seized tens of thousands of pages in documents. It has also recommended to the full House that former White House Chief-of-Staff Mark Meadows and former Trump adviser Steve Bannon be held in contempt of Congress (which the House voted to charge in both instances).

And on Sunday, the committee said it would present its findings in the months ahead. While there are only two Republicans on the panel, that is the fault of GOP leadership, which decided not to participate in what it said would be an unfair process. This amounts to a poison pill that may undermine the final report, but if that report somehow manages to be fair and non-partisan anyway, that pill will simply cause indigestion instead of a fatality.

But none of this process helps inform how we think about the anniversary today.  Nor does bunker thinking.

As a Republican, I am a little offsides in terms of my own thinking about Jan. 6, 2021, because I’m not willing to say it was no big deal, or that it was instigated by Antifa. But I’m a Maine Republican of the old and perhaps extinct sort, so being offsides is nothing new for me. The two Republicans on the investigating committee, Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, are people I generally respect. Can they alone withstand the pressure to polarize the process, I wonder.

Within our ranks, Republicans desperately need to face the facts and hold accountable those who incited violence. In one form or another this must happen before November’s election or it will be an albatross around the neck of every Republican candidate – or at least every one in a competitive race.

At the same time, the presence of Adam Schiff (D-Hollywood) on the panel gives me pause. Schiff has become something of a symbol of hyper-politicized probes over the last five years. In fact, Americans have seen Congress so obsessed with investigating and impeaching that the institution’s traditionally low favorability rating has further plummeted. If the Democrats are hanging their electoral hopes on this review, that is bad news for the finding being anything but political.

So we may have to do the work ourselves. After all, how much can we lament the parlous state of democracy and then delegate the tough thinking to others?

We need an honest conversation about how the events of a year ago got to where they did. Why did an improbable array of Americans descend on Washington, and what did they seek to accomplish? The temperature in our country has risen to dangerous heights with people in our everyday lives getting angrier and angrier about matters best considered at lower blood pressures.

Then there is electoral integrity itself. Both sides have railed against the existing voting rules and procedures so much that any outcome in November might be contentious. It is the job of candidates and opinion leaders on both sides to tone this down and agree to common principles.

So far, the FBI has arrested over 100 alleged participants in the Capitol riot. Jacob Chansley, the buffalo-hatted shaman who became a symbol of the insanity, is serving a sentence of almost four years. So there is already some accountability. But, as is often the case in our country, the little people are paying the costs because they are easier to adjudicate.

Today is a good occasion for calm, as this was so absent a year ago. It is a chance to reflect, not finger-point. And the real work, if we are up to it, is to conduct, support and participate in an election over the next 11 months whose standards (and not just outcomes) help us all respect the system once again.

Sam Patten is a recovering political consultant who was raised in Knox County and worked for Maine’s last three Republican senators.