Jan. 6 hearings remind us that democracy is on the ballot

Published 11:38 am Tuesday, October 25, 2022

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The American public, along with the House select committee, have heard countless hours of testimony involving the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Testimony upon testimony has cemented the case that former President Donald Trump and his supporters plotted a coup.
Some will never believe that to be the truth. In a normal world, Trump would be charged with insurrection and seditious conspiracy for his lead role in the Jan. 6 attacks, or at least barred from elected office again.
It’s a different world, a different congress than when Richard Nixon was tried and forced to resign as president. He resigned and quietly went home to California to spend his final days. It was a united congress at the time, much different than the congress of today.
In a normal world, Trump would have been convicted of abuse of power and obstruction during his first impeachment trial, or of high crimes and misdemeanors at his second impeachment trial.
As the election nears, front and center of every voter’s mind should be this: Supporting Trump allies and election deniers will place the future of American democracy in jeopardy.
The recent House committee hearing showed Trump had a premeditated plan to claim he won the 2020 election before all the votes were tallied. The facts compiled by the House committee are clear, yet Republican leaders and millions of voters choose to believe otherwise.
Trump advisor Roger Stone, a convicted felon later pardoned by Trump, brazenly told a documentary filmmaker about Trump’s election plans: “The key thing to do is to claim victory. Possession is nine-tenths of the law.”
Steve Bannon, another convicted Trump adviser, who was pardoned but now faces sentencing for contempt of congress on separate charges, likewise told associates that Trump planned to claim he won, even if he lost.
And, that’s exactly what happened.
Stone and Bannon also spelled out in blunt terms how the insurrection that followed was also part of the plan.
It’s a shame that more Republican lawmakers did not participate in the Jan. 6 hearings. Liz Cheney was the only Republican that had the guts to stand up and defend democracy. Perversely, Cheney has been ridiculed and her principled stand got her voted out of office. But she forever remains on the bright side of history.
The fact is that we need more Liz Cheneys in Washington.
At least seven people died in connection with the Jan. 6 insurrection. The rioters caused nearly $3 million in damage to the Capitol. Millions more have been spent to prosecute the roughly 900 rioters who have been charged so far. The toll on American democracy is still mounting.
Trump continues to falsely claim that the election was stolen — despite acknowledging in private that he lost. Rather than admit defeat, Trump continues to subvert the election system that is at the core of our democracy.
Can you imagine what would have happened if we had the congress of today when George Bush was elected president over Al Gore? Ultimately Bush won 271 electoral votes, one vote more than than the 270-to-win majority despite Gore receiving 543,895 more votes (a margin of 0.52 percent of all votes cast). That election in 2000 was one of the most memorable — and controversial — in the history of the United States. Voters became familiar with butterfly ballots and hanging chads.
That election was decided by the Supreme Court, who by a narrow 5-4 majority, ruled that the recount in four selected Florida counties violated the principle that “all votes must be treated equally.” The 2000 presidential election was the first in 112 years in which a presidential candidate lost the popular vote but captured enough states to win the electoral vote.
And, yet Americans accepted the outcome and the transfer of power was peaceful.
It was a different age and time.
The House select committee deserves credit for gathering more than 140,000 documents and interviewing more than 1,500 people on the Jan. 6 insurrection, though many key witnesses refused to testify.
Sadly, this election year Republican leaders like Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy, who publicly admitted that Trump should resign after the Jan. 6 riot, now fearing his wrath, have changed their tune. They are not enabling a broader seditious conspiracy aimed at our election system. More than 300 Republican election deniers are on the November ballot.
The extremist wing of the Republican Party remains a threat to American democracy.
The House select committee did its sworn duty. It is up to Democrats, independents and any remaining patriotic Republicans to vote against election deniers and hold Trump and his enablers accountable.

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