My Fellow Republicans: Two Important Questions About Jan. 6
The GOP is running the risk both of dismissing the party's darkest day and, in so doing, playing into the Democratic narrative that what happened that day is indicative and representative.
Conservatives and Republicans have two very important questions before them. First, what is the rational perspective of what happened on January 6th? And second, what is the spin and hyperbole of the Democratic Party, and how do we avoid playing into their game?
As for the first question, I think the rational perspective of January 6th is that it was, in fact, unprecedented. The reality is that Congress, according to its duty laid out in the US Constitution, had met to certify the electors submitted by the States. There had been claims of fraud and other oddities in the election, claims that President Trump and his network of lawyers presented in court through the regular process of law. Both Democratic and Republican-appointed judges summarily dismissed these claims.
Further, all efforts by state legislatures to rescind results or select an alternate batch of electors had also failed. So, when Congress met, there were no alternate electors to consider and no legitimate concerns to raise in debate. Accordingly, Congress and the Vice President proceeded with their Constitutional duty.
At the same time, a President who met defeat in a fair and legitimate election called for a mass gathering of his supporters for the express purpose of calling into question the election's legitimate results. He told the crowd that gathered two egregious lies. First, he said the Vice President had the power to rescind electors and arbitrarily choose which electors to count. And, second, he told them that, even if the VP failed to engage in his suggested behavior, Congress itself could vote to rescind electors and overturn the election results.
These were lies. They were unconstitutional and un-American lies. If the VP or Congress had done as President Trump had demanded and attempted to overturn the election in this way, it would have posed a serious threat to the Union itself. There was no way the majority of states that voted for one President would submit to the authority of the candidate who lost.
And, finally, after these two scenarios failed to materialize, the crowd descended into a mob, fueled by both Pres. Trump's words that they needed to "fight like hell" as well as by organized militia elements purposefully directing the crowd toward mob action. This mob then engaged in an ad-hoc insurrection as they breached and overran the Capitol. They forced Congress to flee and hide. These insurrectionists ransacked the people's House and disrupted the constitutionally ordained process of an orderly and peaceful transfer of power.
Meanwhile, the President of the United States, whose oath of office requires the exercise of executive power in defense of the legislative branch and its constitutionally mandated processes, failed to act decisively in response to the disruption of a Congressional proceeding and the total displacement of Congress by violent and determined insurrection.
To sum up, this was serious shit, and Republicans need to start acting like this was serious shit and stop pretending like this was a minor altercation compared to what the other side has done. The times that try men's souls call for clear leadership, not whataboutism and petty pandering. January 6th is the darkest day in the history of the Republican Party and if we don’t reckon with that reality, it will be a perpetual black eye.
As for the second question I posed, the Democrats clearly want the entire Republican Party and the conservative movement to be perpetually smeared by what happened on January 6th. Their spin and hyperbole aren't what I posited above. Their spin and hyperbole are that every Republican and every conservative is an anti-democratic malcontent ready and willing to resort to violence in the name of Donald Trump. They assert that Donald Trump unavoidably and perpetually controls the GOP. They gain votes for their vision of government, not on the merits of their ideas, but by claiming that a single vote for any Republican or anyone considering themselves conservative is a vote for fascistic neo-nazis seeking to install a perpetual autocratic regime in displacement of American democracy.
I wholeheartedly disagree with that spin and hyperbole. But do you know who is lending the greatest aid and comfort to that batch of lies? Republicans. Republicans and conservatives who are falling into the Democratic trap of standing in the way of adequately investigating January 6th, who are pretending like that day of horror meant nothing, and who have refused to distance themselves from the disgraced President who himself continues to peddle the lies that fueled what happened on that day are the ones handing the Democrats their best talking points.
Dismantling and dismissing Democratic spin and hyperbole would be the simple matter of admitting what happened on January 6th, aggressively investigating and dismissing the forces behind it, and dealing with the truth of what Donald Trump is and will always be. Anything short of that grants the Democrats the very wedge issue they desire and will continue to wield.