Tom Daley
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It's Not Only the Left Taking Lessons From January 6, Trump Is Too

January 6 Capitol Insurrection

One year ago, we were glued to our televisions watching the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Little did we know how worse things would get. I wrote then about the obscenity of it all at the time.

If you stitch together the story of what has happened since that ominous day, you realize how much our democracy is being torn apart.

While the broken doors, shattered glass, and vandalized statues of the Capitol building have been repaired, the damage to our broken democracy remains. About 700 of the thousands who descended on the Capitol on January 6 have been arrested and fewer than 100 have been sentenced.

There is a special congressional committee investigating that day and what led to it, but key witnesses have revolted. More stringent safety protocols have been set up inside and outside the Capitol, but some lawmakers refuse to abide by them, and a few have even argued to bring their guns on the House floor.

Many members of Congress, including Lindsey Graham and Kevin McCarthy, and key Donald Trump supporters like Fox’s Sean Hannity, spoke out forcefully following the Capitol siege and condemned Trump for his role. Then, like a toss of a coin, these same flip-floppers retracted their outrage and resumed their fealty to Trump.

Some GOP House members — the usual ilk of fringe cases such as Marjorie Taylor Greene, Louie Gohmert, and Jim Jordan — started to defend the insurrectionists. Rep. Andrew Clyde, a Republican from Georgia, had the gall to say that January 6, 2021 was like any other “normal tourist day.”

It’s barbaric and insane to watch the GOP come to the defense of Trump and the insurrectionists. Most reporters will tell you, as I’ve heard too, that many of these same members were shocked about what happened one year ago, but they can’t come forward publicly and risk the wrath of Trump and his supporters. To do so, some say, would mean instant retaliation, the inevitable loss of their seat in Congress, and death threats from Trump’s diehard base.

If all this wasn’t bad enough, we now have state legislatures across the country passing voter restriction bills by the narrowest majorities. To desperately pass some form of a voter protection bill, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has come out this week saying if simple majorities in state houses can pass stifling voting laws, why can’t the U.S. Congress, by a simple majority, pass a law to protect voting rights?

This is Schumer’s attempt to get obstinate Sens. Joe Manchin and Krysten Sinema to acquiesce on carving out the filibuster rule to pass a voting bill. It’s mind-boggling why these two senators continue to call themselves Democrats.

It is equally mind-blowing that we revere GOP Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger for their willingness to serve on the select committee investigating January 6, and for their refusal to buy into the “Big Lie.” In normal times, these conservatives would elicit our ire for their rigid stances on social issues. Now, they represent the very last iteration of what was once the Republican party.

The Republican party of yesteryear is gone. According to the latest polls from various organizations and news outlets, an overwhelming majority of Republican voters believe that Joe Biden was not elected fairly and the election was rigged against Trump. The “Big Lie” which led to the insurrection has only been solidified during the last year thanks to Trump and his criminal cohorts.

Fed up with the rancor, hatred, inability to get anything done, and the threats of personal injury against them, many members of the Democratic caucus – 24 and counting – are retiring rather than put up with all the turmoil. The Democrats are frantically searching for viable candidates to run in these districts and others, which only feeds into another advantage for the Republicans to run away with victory, and frighteningly regain the majority in both the House and Senate during this year’s midterms.

The GOP rank and file is pushing out and punishing reps like Cheney and Kinzinger and recruiting Trump acolytes to run. And those who voted for impeachment, or certified Biden’s election, or rubbed Trump the wrong way, are all in danger of being ousted in their primaries. Next month, Trump will hold a fundraiser at Mar-a-Lago for many of the extreme candidates he and his accomplices have recruited. He is still the kingmaker of the party.

To win, and they most likely will, these subservient Republican candidates to Trump will rely on social and cultural wedge issues, which means that the LGBTQ+ community is sure to come under attack. Watch for ads that target LGBTQ+ leaders like Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Department of Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine. Same-sex marriage, trans rights, and equality bills will come under fire.

The icing on the cake is the ultra-conservative Supreme Court that will most likely take away abortion rights and gun protections this year. These moves dovetail perfectly with the GOP’s attempts to take our country and push it closer to autocratic rule.

And this is just preparatory work for the re-emergence of Trump as the unchallenged 2024 Republican presidential candidate.

Does all this sound too harsh? Too outrageous? Not realistic? Seemingly impossible? If someone told you five years ago that the U.S. Capitol would come under attack by right-wing, racist hate groups, you probably would have guffawed. But it happened, and because there will most likely be no accountability for what transpired one year ago, we will witness the rise of the Right and the erosion of personal freedoms.

Democracy in the United States is becoming threadbare. Are we all strong enough and willing to work together to stitch it back together?

Former President Jimmy Carter, who spent his post-presidency establishing free and fair elections in countries all over the world, wrote an op-ed for The New York Times this week. Entitled “I Fear for Our Democracy,” Carter warns, “Our great nation now teeters on the brink of a widening abyss. Without immediate action, we are at genuine risk of civil conflict and losing our precious democracy. Americans must set aside differences and work together before it is too late.”

John Casey is editor-at-large for The Advocate.

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