The Mob Is Still Out There

While watching tonight’s Congressional hearings on the January 6th coup attempt, it is important to maintain perspective. But it is also going to be very difficult. There are multiple reasons for that. Here are a few.

First, no matter what happens in these or subsequent hearings, the full import of what Trump and his army of supporters sought to do will be difficult to apprehend. Hearings and investigations like those of the Jan 6 Commission are like putting together the pieces of a puzzle.

The focus will more often be on the big picture than on the details. Those who seek to minimize the proceedings will debate the details to distract–impugning the motives of those testifying, arguing secondary issues.

Further, of course, those behind the big crime–an effort to seize control of the government of the United States by force and against the will of the people–have gone to great lengths to distance themselves from the crimes, to cover their tracks. Some will not testify. Some will lie. Some will deflect and distract. Some will be defended by their minions. Some will take refuge behind false claims of privilege. Some will be shielded by customs that evolved in other times, for other circumstances.

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You will never hear directly from the main actor behind this crime, President Trump. You will never hear from most of those who worked most closely with him. You will never hear from most of those who funded this coup attempt. You will never hear from key players like Clarence Thomas or his wife, important Senators and members of Congress, Republican officials who promoted the Big Lie. Because the focus of these hearings is on January 6th, we will lose important context.

Many of Trump’s prior crimes, his prior efforts to obstruct justice, his collaboration with overseas enemies, the full scope of his efforts to undermine the rule of law in the United States prior to January 6th simply will not come up or be seen as relevant.

The degree to which the Big Lie on which January 6th was predicated is continuing and that efforts are being made to make the theft of an election easier, to institutionalize the corrupt objectives of the GOP, the fact that the coup attempt is on-going, will not get sufficient play. It will be mentioned. But in the setting of a hearing it will be difficult to convey the audacity, the criminal intent, the profound threat to our system that underpins this on-going assault of which Jan 6th was just one grotesque manifestation.

The fact that another narrative will be spun out by right wing media, supported via discussions and disinformation spread via social media, will further cloud the picture, diminish from the consequences revelations about the planning and execution of insurrection should have.

You may be shocked by much of what the hearing(s) reveal. But you will not be as shocked or appalled or disturbed by the facts of this case, of the related cases, of the pattern of the crimes and abuses, of the motives and goals of the participants, as you should be.

Further, the familiarity of this story, the time that has passed since January 6th, the predictability of the reactions of many analysts all will have a numbing effect. That is why forcing yourself and those around you to put this in perspective matters.

The hearings that begin tonight will be part of an investigation into an unprecedented act in American history. They will describe the greatest crime ever committed by an American president, a fact made more stunning by the fact that the president in question, Donald Trump is by far the most corrupt president in our history, a serial criminal who has flouted the law his entire life, who has been credibly accused of rape, sexual assault, fraud, colluding with our enemies, obstruction of justice, as well as of sedition.

No high public official since the Civil War has so egregiously violated his oath of office, assaulted the Constitution, threatened the survival of our democracy. Further, he was surrounded not just in the White House but on Capitol Hill and throughout the GOP by others who shared his desire to, for the first time in our history, disrupt the peaceful transfer of power between our presidents. Indeed, many of those officials, donors, thugs, extremists, talk show hosts, right wing broadcasters, social media influencers as well as Trump himself continue to aspire to impose the will of a minority on the majority of our people, to end our system of government as we know it, to place the president and those he favors above the law, to show utter, complete and enduring contempt for the principles on which the United States was founded.

Before us is a sweeping panorama of grievous threats to all we hold dear, of repugnant behavior, of violence, of deceit and these hearings will, at best, simply hold a magnifying glass to small parts of that landscape of criminality.

Further, as importantly, these will be hearings without consequence unless the Department of Justice acts against those behind not just January 6th but all the crimes and abuses undertaken in the name of Trump and the Republican Party and extreme right wing causes.

Even more importantly, if voters do not stop to apprehend the gravity of the threat we face and reject the efforts of the Trumpists and Murdoch and Fox and the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers and white supremacists and corrupted faith leaders – of DeSantis and Abbott and Cruz and Hawley and Gaetz and Jordan and the others seeking to drag American democracy into the gutter they occupy – the crimes discussed on TV tonight will only be prelude.

Tonight may be about an insurrection and a corrupt president and enablers throughout his party, but it is more about the elections of tomorrow than those of the past. For all the limitations of these hearings, if they make it clear to voters what is at stake, they will succeed.

See the big picture. Tap into the revulsion it triggers. Then turn that into volunteering, phone calls, donations, running for office, speaking to friends, writing, posting on social media and doing all you can to ensure that the January 6th mob is repelled once and for all.

Because make no mistake, that mob is still out there. Their coup attempt continues. And they will not stop until the voters of America – you and those around you – step up, reject and ultimately defeat them.

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