Brian Baird’s Op-Ed “Democracy not violence: Americans, please take this pledge” [Jan. 6, Opinion] is a clarion call to support constitutional and political norms.

But I fear that such calls to conscience only scratch the surface. Beneath the political unrest and discontent are basic economic inequities: the growing gap between the rich and the rest of us, homelessness, food insecurity, lack of sick leave, low wages, unaffordable child care, higher-education debt — fundamental safety-net gaps that President Joe Biden is trying to ameliorate in the Build Back Better bill.

Then there is the sense, among regular folk, that the politicians, journalists and other talking heads they see on TV are “not like us” — an unintended side effect of COVID-19-era distance interviews revealing fancy homes with views, white couches, luxury kitchens, shelves of books, elegant woodwork, framed diplomas and modern art. For people struggling to get by, high-minded principles voiced by visibly privileged leaders may strike a false note.

To get democracy buy-in, we must make systemic changes showing that democracy can deliver for ordinary people.

Constance Hellyer, Seattle