United States Capitol rotunda via "Senator McCain speaks to Class 56 at US Capitol March 1, 2017" by IADC is marked with Public Domain Mark 1.0. To view the terms, visit https://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/mark/1.0/?ref=openverse.
This is the year we decide who we are – Democratic or Fascist.
Three years on, the horrific events of January 6 remain vivid. Everyone from the right-wing extremists who enacted it to its opposition, purportedly the rest of the nation, keeps its memory alive. The instigator / orchestrator, then-sitting president Donald Trump, brings it up constantly. This is despite advisors and media apologists attempting to spin that day away from him and the damaged Republican Party. As he pursues finishing the job of bringing his brat-king fantasy in perpetuity, Trump promises vengeance for those who were prosecuted and “persecuted” for its crimes – crimes, by the way that happened on video streamed across the world in real-time. The Republican Speaker of the House recently boasted a scheme to protect the remaining fugitives from justice.
By the time the fourth anniversary of 1/6/21 comes up, the man and the party responsible for its domestic terrorism will either be elected president again, heralding his defiance of law and order, or rejected outright, ending the fascistic violence he stands for. America has a choice. It will be an interesting year indeed.
Meanwhile, the fallout of January 6 is a fluid endeavor.
Donald Trump and his attorneys are trying anything possible to stall his D.C criminal trial, as in Georgia where his elaborate fake electors’ plot is in similar legal jeopardy. Much of the evidence for both indictments having been revealed in the congressional investigation on the attempted insurrection and a deeper Justice Department and FBI sweep – the largest in U.S. history – into his mob’s looting, assault on officers of the law, and, finally, murder. It could have been far worse had the heavily armed hordes gotten to lawmakers running for their lives inside the Capitol that day or the undetonated pipe bombs left in front of the Democratic and Republican committee offices.
More than 1,200 people have been charged with federal crimes for the events of January 6, ranging from misdemeanor offenses (trespassing) to felonies (assaulting police officers and seditious conspiracy). Over 170 have been convicted of at least one charge at a trial decided by a judge or a jury, while north of 700 have pled guilty to charges. Of the 750 sentenced, two-thirds have received jail time. Prison sentences have ranged from a few days of intermittent confinement to 22 years in prison – the longest sentence handed down to Enrique Tarrio, the former Proud Boys national chairman who was convicted of seditious conspiracy in a plot to stop the peaceful transfer of power.
“The peaceful transfer of power” is one of the most sacred tenets of the American experiment begun when George Washington, only the second general cum ruler in civilized history to abdicate power peacefully and legally after winning a revolution, insisted on there being a term limit for presidents while admonishing the monarch ideals of the fallen British overlords on the way out. Since the spring of 1797, this has been more than an American tradition. This hallowed ritual, the very underlining principle of our republic, stems from one of the first lessons we teach our children: learn to lose gracefully, uphold the spirit of competition, and adhere to the rules laid out before them; consider the greater good of the institution and less about your temporarily bruised ego. The infantile petulance of the foot-stomping, red-faced sore loser crying foul when things do not go his way is anathema to the very core of America.
Until Trump, we mostly lived under the idea of democracy as an agreed upon collective deciding our leaders at the ballot box, and despite some consternation in past presidential elections, most recently in 1960 and 2000, concession speeches and general adherence to decorum won out. This was appallingly missing in the words and actions of the former president. He chose a different path, to disenfranchise 81-million votes cast for Joseph Biden Jr. and use every lever of his office’s power to stop the will of the people.
Lest we forget, mucking up the “peaceful transfer of power” was the aim and ultimate purpose of January 6, 2021 – the very day that would ratify the 59th American election of our president. Regardless of the skewered reasoning by Trump and his allies (rigged election, questionable voting machines, massive Democratic conspiracy), this was the goal. Period. After exhausting the false claims of the election fraudthrough the media, then being beaten in over 60 court cases, failed schemes to jam fake electors in at least four states, Trump tried in vain to convince Vice President Mike Pence to deny the ratification of the electoral college tally that day in congress. Not wanting to commit a crime he advised Trump not to pursue, the president ignored Pence and took one final shot to deny democracy by using a rally he set up and promoted on social media across from the Capitol as a call to arms – urging the amped up crowd to “fight” for their country… or, more to the point, his wishes and illusions. Joined by many of his cronies using similar violent rhetoric, much of it aimed at Pence, Trump then directed everyone present to march to the Capitol. What happened next, we all know. It is a matter of history, no matter what crazy shit passes for a revisionist one.
Now, in 2024, just three years hence, we face the very same man that wants to be president forever. He has stated – and shown quite effectively through his actions – that he has no intention of continuing the American experiment as it is presently constructed, but, ultimately, whether Trump believes in elections or not, this is not up to him. It is up to us. We have a decision to make as a nation this year – beyond the economy, border security, abortion rights, and a host of other issues that hang in the balance in November: Do we allow Donald Trump the most powerful post in the world after what transpired when he lost a free and fair election in 2020 or move on with the American experiment?
Fool us once, shame on you. Fool us twice, that’s on us.
It is as simple as that.
I do not believe a court or protests or third-party candidates or bitching about President Joe Biden’s age is going to keep Donald Trump from the White House. Voting for Biden, the only other viable candidate, is going to prevent autocracy in our times. The ballot box is our best weapon, otherwise we become, as Friedrich Nietzsche once warned, the monster we wish to defeat.
January 6 should not be a date to recall as mere history; it is a reminder, like Pearl Harbor Day or 9/11 of what transpires when we shirk the responsibility to fight for the freedoms bestowed upon us in this rare but fragile framework. Know this –regardless of rationalizations to do so, a vote for Donald Trump this year is a vote for fascism and the repulsion of America as a concept and a democratic foundation.