January 6 Committee’s Finale: The Importance of Retelling the Tale of Trump’s Treachery

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It’s a story that cannot be repeated enough.

Feel sympathy for the members of the January 6 House Select Committee.

They were handed a task simultaneously easy and arduous: demonstrating to the American public that a president—fully supported by one of the nation’s two main political parties—plotted to overturn election results to remain in office, incited violence to prevent the peaceful transfer of power, and on the day of the riot willfully and malevolently abandoned his duties as a defender of the Constitution.

This is akin to arguing the case that the sky is blue. It’s a simple proposition—unless you are addressing people who refuse to believe reality. The committee’s investigation has confirmed and expanded the ugly story of January 6, reinforcing its importance for Americans who already feared the Trumpian war on democracy, and perhaps encouraging those who haven’t paid close attention to the consequences and implications of that day to do so.  Persuading Trumpland was never in the cards. The sky there is not blue.

The committee’s hearing on Thursday—which is assumed to be its last before the midterm elections, and perhaps its final public session (especially if the Republicans win back the House)—was a retelling of Trump’s attempts to steal the 2020 election, with a few new and startling pieces of evidence sprinkled in.

The sordid basic details are well established: Trump prepared to declare victory and claim the election was rigged even before Election Day. Afterward, he hurled a multitude of false allegations and promoted unsubstantiated and loony conspiracy theories. He initiated multiple (and perhaps illegal) schemes to overturn the results, pressuring state leaders, Department of Justice officials and, ultimately, his own vice president, to join the various plots. He encouraged his irrationally irate supporters to flock to Washington on January 6 and then, though he’d been told that many in the crowd were armed with weapons and tactical equipment, urged them to march on the Capitol. As the insurrectionist riot spread, he inflamed the marauders with a tweet attacking VP Mike Pence, watched the violence unfold on Fox News, and for hours did nothing to call off his cherished mob.

All of this has been proven. We don’t need more congressional hearings for that. Only Trump cultists deny this reality. Yet in our broken political culture, it is a noble and important mission for the committee to rebroadcast this tale. Trump and the other high-level  coup plotters have (so far) escaped accountability. And the party that supported—and still supports—Trump is stocked with election deniers and January 6 dismissers and is now poised to gain control of one or both chambers of the very Congress its own voters attacked. Trump recently vowed that if he is elected president again he would pardon his Capitol brownshirts. In the face of this endorsement of political violence, the horrors of January 6 and the scheming that led to it need to be revisited repeatedly. 

A key element of demagoguery and authoritarianism is to deny truth, and Trump has illustrated the power of relentless disinformation. Declare falsehoods over and over—about the election, about the Russia scandal, about just about everything—and you can prevent a clear public understanding of important matters. You can cover up reality with lies, especially if you’re willing to proclaim your lies repeatedly. That’s why it is crucial for defenders of the truth to revisit, repackage, reiterate, and reaffirm reality. 

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