A year ago, Trump supporters marched on the US Capitol. Some were feckless thrill-seekers, but others were dead set on preventing Joe Biden from becoming the nation’s legally elected president. Members of the crowd wore bizarre regalia; some wore military gear. Some waved Confederate flags. Some were armed with sticks and aerosols that came in handy when they stamped on and warred with police officers.
The marauders forced their way into a locked-down Capitol. They came for high government officials, particularly vice president Mike Pence, whom they wanted to hang. Congress had to duck and run for cover. Some House members were sheltering in place when Secret Service officers barricaded the House Chamber, drew guns, and shot dead one of the mob who kept pushing her way in anyway.
Hours into the bizarre incursion, reinforcements came to assist the Capitol Police. Pence and his family and all the Senators and Representatives were guided out of the building to safety. Late at night, after Trump’s forces were expelled, Congress re-convened. With Pence again presiding over the Senate, in the wee hours of January 7, 2021, Biden’s election was finally certified.
Subsequently, some 25,000 National Guard troops camped in the Capitol to defend it against future attack. Biden’s inauguration took place in a militarized atmosphere necessary to deter violent anarchy.
Those of us who followed the events on social media saw ample proof of the serious intent and orchestration of the Capitol attack. We saw embedded video from a phalanx of the Proud Boys, as they made their way to the rear (east side) of the Capitol that day. We saw an organized paramilitary element within the crowd, invading the Capitol with professional determination. We learned of pipe bombs planted near the headquarters of the national parties, put there to divert law enforcement from the Capitol at a favorable time. A vehicle loaded with napalm and materials for bomb-making was discovered.
We all heard the racist taunts of the rioters as they smashed through the perimeter of the Capitol grounds, demeaning and injuring the police. After breaching the Capitol, shattering windows and beating down doors, a faction of murderously angry Americans vandalized the seat of self-government. They declared they were there for Trump, a power-hungry loser whose prompts they obeyed.
Some Republicans in the House and Senate hinted at colluding with the out-going president and the rioters. Some met with the president on January 5 and came away uttering cryptic prognostications of wondrous events about to transpire. Others remained firm for Trump after the chaos was put down. They continued to question the state-certified election results. Astonishingly, six Republicans in the Senate and 141 in the House finally voted against certification, defiantly indifferent to the implications of the violent siege.
Despite eyewitness coverage and the detailed narrative of January 6th that House prosecutors presented during Trump’s second impeachment trial, too much remains unknown about just who planned, aided, financed, and executed this failed coup. The chief perpetrators of a crime against the United States, who betrayed the Constitution and sought to nullify a Constitutionally ordained process, still go about their business, passing as decent, respectable people. The Republican Party is protecting them. Only a handful of Republican patriots, including Liz Cheney, Peter Meijer, and Adam Kinzinger, have had the courage to speak out against the treachery that pro-Trump forces resorted to last year in their bid to hang onto power. Had their insurrection succeeded, the federal government would be a regime, Constitutional government a sham.
On the first anniversary of January 6th, I marvel at the dark forces combining to whitewash the mortal threat that Constitutional government barely survived. One part of American officialdom is intent on recasting what happened at the Capitol, using the repressive tactics of authoritarian regimes. They wish Jan. 6 to go the way of Tiananmen Square. The insurrectionists and other Trump partisans who bear responsibility for what happened have been astonishingly successful at suppressing and denying the bloody truth. Trump apologists insist that nothing scary or wrong happened. Right-leaning news outlets cast aspersions on the integrity of those the insurrection would have destroyed.
Social media friendly to right-wing extremism stoke the grievances of these fringe minorities, justifying their unlawful lust to war against the popular will. State Republican organizations have become little more than propaganda machines. False narratives flourish as conservative investors increase their control over the press, buying up independent newspapers, gutting their newsrooms, often shutting them down. A firewall blazing with obfuscation and lies keeps Trump and his accomplices miraculously safe.
Yet conscience and political ambition may crumble the defense that seems so impregnable. Already battle-scarred Republicans like Chris Christie have pointed out the liability that Trump represents. Trump lied and failed the nation. He betrayed the Constitution. He LOST. As long as Republicans remain loyal to a “dangerous and irrational man,” they will never regain the majority’s trust. Why should the nation empower people who lie? Fealty to Trump is a shackle that smart Republicans will soon saw off. As incentives to desert Trump build, the prospect of learning the whole truth about January 6th will swell, at last becoming inevitable.
Image: “DC Capitol Storming” from this source.