This past Thursday saw the conclusion of the first part of the House Select Committee
to investigate the January 6, 2021 attack
on the United States Capitol. Thursday’s hearing focused on former President Donald Trump
’s refusal to take action as his supporters attacked the Capitol.
As Democray Now!
co-host Amy Goodman notes
: “Lawmakers dissected the three-hour period on January 6 after Trump urged his supporters to march to the Capitol and ‘fight like hell.’ For 187 minutes, Trump refused to call off the mob or reach out to law enforcement or military leaders to try to stop the violence. Instead, Trump called Republican senators, urging them to stop the certification [of Joe Biden
’s 2020 election win
]. ‘For hours Donald Trump chose not to answer the pleas from Congress, from his own party and from all across our nation to do what his oath required,’ said Congressmember Liz Cheney
, the committee’s vice chair.”
Goodman also reports
During their eighth and final hearing until the fall, the January 6 House Select Committee aired new testimony from an anonymous national security official detailing how Mike Pence’s Secret Service agents feared for their lives during the breach of the Capitol. “There were calls to say goodbye to family members,” said the anonymous official. Despite knowledge of the growing mob, Trump decided to publish a tweet at 2:24 p.m. saying Mike Pence “lacked the courage” to stop the certification. The tweet poured “gasoline on the fire,” said Trump’s ex-deputy press secretary, Sarah Matthews, who testified live on Thursday. Meanwhile, Trump was still reaching out to Republican senators, including Senator Josh Hawley, who was seen in footage racing to safety just hours after he raised his fist to the massing mob.
It seems to me pretty clear that the testimonies and evidence presented during the hearings, mostly by Trump’s own former staffers
, make for a damning indictment of Trump and his lackeys. Whether or not this will lead to criminal charges is yet to be determined. And, of course, as the opening cartoon by Gary Markstein
reminds us, there are some Americans who, no matter what evidence is presented, remain very much part of the cult of Trump
Heather Cox Richardson
is a political historian and the author of How the South Won the Civil War: Oligarchy, Democracy, and the Continuing Fight for the Soul of America
. She also regularly posts a dispatch on her Facebook page in which she “uses facts and history to make observations about contemporary American politics.”
In her latest dispatch
, Heather provides a timely overview of the ongoing efforts of the Republican party, despite the findings of the January 6th House Select Committe, to establish minority rule in the U.S. Following is an excerpt.
Thursday’s public hearing by the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol brought to its logical conclusion the story of Trump’s attempt to overturn our democracy. After four years of destroying democratic norms and gathering power into his own hands, the former president tried to overturn the will of the voters. Trump was attacking the fundamental concept on which this nation rests: that we have a right to consent to the government under which we live.
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Far from rejecting the idea of minority rule after seeing where it led, Republican Party lawmakers have doubled down.
They have embraced the idea that state legislatures should dominate our political system, and so in 2021, at least 19 states passed 34 laws to restrict access to voting. On June 24, in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health decision, the Supreme Court said that the federal government did not have the power, under the Fourteenth Amendment, to protect the constitutional right to abortion, bringing the other rights that amendment protects into question. When Democrats set out to protect some of those rights through federal legislation, Republicans in Congress overwhelmingly voted to oppose such laws.
In the House, Republicans voted against federal protection of an individual’s right to choose whether to continue or end a pregnancy and to protect a health care provider’s ability to provide abortion services: 209 Republicans voted no; 2 didn’t vote. That’s 99% of House Republicans.
They voted against the right to use contraception: 195 out of 209 Republicans voted no; 2 didn’t vote. That’s 96% of House Republicans.
They voted against marriage equality: 157 out of 204 Republicans voted no; 7 didn’t vote. That’s 77% of House Republicans.
They voted against a bill guaranteeing a woman’s right to travel across state lines to obtain abortion services: 205 out of 208 Republicans voted no; 3 didn’t vote. That’s 97% of House Republicans.
Sixty-two percent of Americans believe abortion should be legal. Seventy percent support gay marriage. More than 90% of Americans believe birth control should be legal. I can’t find polling on whether Americans support the idea of women being able to cross state lines without restrictions, but one would hope that concept is also popular. And yet, Republican lawmakers are comfortable standing firmly against the firm will of the people. The laws protecting these rights passed through the House thanks to overwhelming Democratic support but will have trouble getting past a Republican filibuster in the Senate.
When he took office, Democratic president Joe Biden recognized that his role in this moment was to prove that democracy is still a viable form of government.
Rising autocrats have declared democracy obsolete. They argue that popular government is too slow to respond to the rapid pace of the modern world, or that liberal democracy’s focus on individual rights undermines the traditional values that hold societies together, values like religion and ethnic or racial similarities. Hungarian president Viktor Orbán, whom the [extreme] right supports so enthusiastically that he is speaking on August 4 in Texas at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), has called for replacing liberal democracy with “illiberal democracy” or “Christian democracy,” which will explicitly not treat everyone equally and will rest power in a single political party.
. . . Love or hate what Biden has done, he has managed to pull a wide range of countries together to stand against Russian president Vladimir Putin’s authoritarian attack in Ukraine, and he has managed get through a terribly divided Congress laws to make the lives of the majority better, even while Republicans are rejecting the idea that the government should reflect the will of the majority. That is no small feat.
Whether it will be enough to prove that democracy is still a viable form of government is up to us.
As First Series of January 6 Hearings Ends, Watchdogs Say Trump “Must Be Prosecuted” – Jake Johnson (Common Dreams, July 22, 2022).
187 Minutes: January 6 Hearing Examines Trump’s Refusal to Urge Mob to Stop Violent Attack on Capitol – Democracy Now! (July 22, 2022).
“I Don’t Want to Say the Election Is Over”: Video Outtakes Show Trump Refused to Admit Loss on January 7 – Democracy Now! (July 22, 2022).
Criminal Probe Opened Into Deletion of Secret Service January 6 Text Messages, Sources Say – Dan Mangan (CNBC News, July 21, 2022).
One in Five U.S. Adults Condone “Justified” Political Violence, Mega-survey Finds – Ed Pilkington (The Guardian, July 20, 2022).
January 6 Committee Lays Bare How Trump’s Tweets Fomented Deadly Insurrection – Brett Wilkins (Common Dreams, July 12, 2022).
Let’s Be Clear: The Battle Before Us Is Democracy vs. Autocracy – Robert Reich (Common Dreams, July 8, 2022).
“Truth Matters”: Liz Cheney Lambasts Trump-backed Rival in Wyoming Debate – Martin Pengelly (The Guardian, July 1, 2022).
The Case for Prosecuting Donald Trump Just Got Much Stronger: Cassidy Hutchinson’s Testimony May Have Produced a Smoking Gun – David French (The Dispatch, June 28, 2022).
Trump Might Have to Be Prosecuted to Save American Democracy, An Expert on Authoritarianism Argues – Charles R. Davis (Business Insider, June 14, 2022).
See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
• Rep. Liz Cheney: Quote of the Day – June 30, 2022
• Mitchell Zimmerman: Quote of the Day – June 23, 2022
• Rep. Liz Cheney: Quote of the Day – June 9, 2022
• Two Conservative Voices of Integrity
• “How Can One Overreact to a Mortal Threat to American Democracy?”
• A Deeper Perspective on What’s Really Attacking Democracy
• “The Coup Attempt on Jan. 6th Was a Warning for What’s to Come If We Don’t Act”
• “My Biggest Worry Is for My Country”
• Republicans Pose an “Existential Threat” to American Democracy
• The Big Switch
• The Republican Party in a Nutshell
• Republicans Don’t Care About American Democracy
• Heather Cox Richardson on Combating the Republican Party’s “Rigging of the System”
• Refuting Surface Level Comparisons Between the Insurrection at the Capitol and Black Lives Matter Protests
• David Remnick: Quote of the Day – February 13, 2021
• Dan Rather on America’s “Moment of Reckoning”
• Michael Harriot: Quote of the Day – January 6, 2021
• Insurrection at the United States Capitol
Opening image: Gary Markstein.