January 6th and the End of Innocence
After the assault on the capital, the great American experiment feels almost hopelessly naive. Either we believe in representative democracy or we don’t. In the end, a representative democracy is an all or nothing thing. Not unlike pregnancy, you’re not a little bit democratic.
Either the peoples’ will enjoys primacy, or the rule of a strongman or gaggle of plutocrats or a collection of self-aggrandizing oligarchs or is/are ascendant. We can’t claim to be a democracy unless we believe in the legitimacy of what makes us a democracy in the first place, to wit, the outcome of elections. And the signs of our dawning awareness that the game has changed are everywhere.
Not that there aren’t people trying with might and main to ignore those signs or the blinding flash of the obvious. Hopeful pundits point to the undeniable successes and the quiet competence Biden’s first hundred days as evidence that democracy and its institutions have held. Meanwhile, weasel-brained Republican politicians across America are already working feverishly to craft voter suppression laws designed to disenfranchise men and women of color, in order to tilt the political playing field so profoundly that pluralistic democracy has no chance.
The Illusion of Election Theft
Meanwhile Republican law makers play footsy with the notions that the election was indeed stolen and opine that those who assaulted the capital on the 6th were (largely) peaceful, misguided or Antifa agitators who somehow persuaded themselves to wear MAGA hats and carry confederate flags. Said the soon to be former president to his followers gathered at the capital?
“States want to revote. The states got defrauded. They were given false information. They voted on it. Now they want to recertify. They want it back. All Vice President Pence has to do is send it back to the states to recertify and we become president and you are the happiest people.” (Donald Trump at the Jan. 6, 2021 rally before the assualt.)
Never mind the fact that states did indeed certify the election in all states, after more than fifty (count them) filed in virtually every battleground state where Trump and his surrogates thought they might have a chance in front of the bench as the did not at the ballot box. In response to one appeal in the 3rd circuit, one judge noted:
“…calling an election unfair does not make it so.” (3d Circuit Judge)
As pretty much anyone armed with three braincells to rub together and ever having served on jury duty knows, the bench tenders a lot more credence to appeals referencing empirically verifiable facts.
And as the Brennan Center for Justice pointed out in response to Trump’s claim that the 2016 election (which he won) was rigged, the incidence of voter fraud while not non-existent, has never risen to the level necessary to “rig” an election. And it still hasn’t. Mr. Trump lost. Period, full stop.
But is Trump the Problem?
In my opinion, no. Far more troubling than an intellectually deficient defeated president plaintively bleating about having lost is the large number of elected officials inclined to ignore the absence of evidence of “the steal” and go along with the narrative. Equally problematic is the large number of misguided citizens willing to take Trump’s words at face value sans evidence.
It’s hard to watch the January 6th assault on the capital and subsequent reverberations and not feel that we’re in the midst of a shift…and not a good one. Long time readers of my work know I’m fascinated by paradigm shifts. This particular (apparent) paradigm shift in the Republican Party and the more conservative elements of our society is fascinating, but not in a good way.
We collectively have become the problem. Between “wokeness” on one end of the political spectrum and dead enders on the other, we’ve lost sight of purpose of governance. It’s to deliver quietly competent government that balances the popular with the necessary. The previous adminstration failed miserably at that and despite it’s doing so, a large number of folks believed he should be re-elected.
Fortunately for America, seven million more thought otherwise. It won a reprieve, but none of us should labor under the misapprehension this is over. It isn’t. It isn’t not just because Trump is defeated but still alive. It’s because the real problem isn’t Trump. It’s us. Bank that one. If that bothers you, get informed and involved. It’s no longer okay to see how things go.