“It is a story of the greatest political crime ever attempted by an American President.”
Congressman Jamie Raskin (D Md.) is a determined methodical fact-finder, a man of integrity, and a member of the January 6th Committee. He’s not a grandstander. He’s not charismatic. He is respected by his colleagues for sincerity and hard work. The quote is not hyperbole. I’m confident the committee will make the case that supports his statement.
Much of the for-profit media is framing the January 6th hearings as a political contest between Dems and the GOP. Regrettably, it may be in their self-interest to avoid framing for what it really is: a criminal indictment where the general public is the grand jury. Based upon the evidence presented, Americans and the world will decide whether Trump and his supporters are guilty of attempting a political coup.
The committee seeks to reveal a pattern of facts and circumstances that lead to the conclusion that Donald Trump and his followers attempted to seize power using a series of ploys culminating in an elaborate and violent ruse aimed at derailing the 2020 Presidential Election. As justification for what was to follow, they began with the “Big Lie” that the election was stolen. But that was propaganda to cover a very real and determined effort to steal the election by GOP operatives.
My Republican friends want to dismiss the proceedings without examining the evidence. They see it as political gamesmanship. They liken these hearings to the Benghazi hearings, which yielded much rhetoric but no crimes or causes for congressional action. This in itself is a tacit admission that their party’s motivation was political and not a sincere attempt to uncover wrongdoing or inform future legislation.
We can understand the commercial media’s reluctance to frame their reporting as Raskin does: the story of a crime by Trump and the GOP. They earn revenue in proportion to the audience they deliver to advertisers. Telling 40% of their audience that they are being led by an authoritarian crook, even though evidence is forthcoming, will drive away people whose attention they need.
So we get why they frame it as a political game, a contest, a sparring match. It’s in their economic best interest. But that does not serve America and journalistic integrity.
Democracy, government by consent of those governed, is hard-won and hard to sustain. We are witnessing an ongoing brash attempt to subvert Democracy by the leader of the GOP. Trump is an unabashedly authoritarian and vengeful leader, who rules his party by fear and whose excesses are tolerated because of his extremist followers — it is a classic cult of personality.
Other GOP efforts to subvert democracy include:
- Widespread partisan gerrymandering so that representation does not reflect the will of the majority of voters. (e.g.: Operation Red Map)
- Partisan judge appointments so that the courts favor the aims of the GOP.
- Vote suppression measures designed to make it inconvenient and difficult for urban (often Democratic) voters to vote (hours, locations, adequate numbers of voting stations, etc.)
- Disenfranchisement measures. Unnecessarily rigorous voter ID requirements, intimidating registration processes, etc. “Suppression efforts range from the seemingly unobstructive, like strict voter ID laws and cuts to early voting, to mass purges of voter rolls and systemic disenfranchisement. These measures disproportionately impact people of color, students, the elderly, and people with disabilities,” according to the ACLU.
- Disinformation. Political “dirty tricks” aimed at biasing perception against the opposition candidate. Roger Stone has characterized himself as an expert in this. Lee Atwater is credited with the phrase, “perception is reality,” in creating negative memes for opposing candidates. Other Republican political operatives Paul Manifort, New Gingrich, and Carl Rove also practice the craft of manipulating public opinion for personal gain. Kellyanne Conway famously referred to “alternate facts” when defending false statements of the Trump Whitehouse. (The alternative to a fact is, by definition, a falsehood-not factual.)
Democrats can’t claim to be totally innocent of using any of these tactics, but the scale and gravity of their offenses in trivial by comparison. Usually, when we hear examples cited it is done in an attempt to distract attention from the pervasive reliance the GOP currently places on these corrupt measures.
Trump’s attempt to derail the legitimate transfer of power is only surprising in its boldness and violence. The failure of the GOP to support accountability and corrective measures reveals the extreme lack of honor and utter contempt for the rule of law that pervades the GOP’s lust for the power to govern as a minority party.
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