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What We Are Learning, and What We Already Knew

As we watch the January 6 Committee hearings, we learn all sort of specific things about what happened on or before January 6. But in some important sense, we really don’t learn anything that we did not know or sense before, and maybe have for years.

For me, this is a fascinating, and well presented, and ultimately depressing delineation of the facts that Trump is pure evil, and that he had many people who were happy to join him in the evil; and that he had others who were willing to let him get away with it if he could; and that the Republican Party is a dreadful cohort of individuals who will do anything to win and hold power. Anything.

This current story, while it is more sordid than any of the earlier ones, is really just a further chapter in how the Republican Party has no moral moorings whatsoever. Oh, there might be a few of them who do, though most of them pop up after the fact; they write anonymous articles, or mutter to each other, and then write books about it. Actually doing something to save the country, and to insure fairness in our electoral processes, is very rare from them, though we do commend it when it happens.

What happened in 2020 and 2021, is that Donald Trump wanted to keep power, and the sense of omnipotence, and the billions of dollars, and the perpetual grift, and the ability to consort with tyrants, that came with it. So he used every tool at his disposal to stay in the White House.

He tried to win the election. Everything he did in office was either to personally benefit himself, or to benefit his campaign. Nothing he did had an iota of motivation about helping the country, benefiting the citizens, keeping peace. Nothing. It was all about him. We knew that before he even got elected, if he indeed did without Russia cheating.

He tried to use the same tactic he had used in 2016, get a foreign country to help,, and create a supposed scandal to greatly damage his opponent. He knew that his Far Right and very wealthy benefactors would push the story, and that his friends in mainstream media would keep it in the headlines. This time it was “Hunter Biden and his laptop.”

He tried to get President Zelensky of Ukraine to help him; and then he just resorted to extorting him, essentially saying that unless Zelensky would investigate Hunter Biden, or at least say he was investigating him, he would not supply the weapons which Ukraine had already paid for. He got impeached for that, but the Republicans protected him, called it “a witch hunt,” and would not vote to convict him. Because he was always protected by certain benefactors who had a price, and by the mob, and by Republicans who want to always hold political power, no matter what they have to do or put up with to keep it.

So his ploy with Zelensky did not work, and the media didn’t help him as much in 2020, because they liked Biden better than Hillary, for various reasons, nothing having to do with the relative abilities of the two. And of course he was no longer the “fun gamble” that the media and certain people on the Left tried to portray him as in 2016. So he lost by seven million votes.

But Trump wasn’t going to let something like that get him out of office. His niece, Mary Trump, had said before the election, that if he lost, he would do everything he could to stay in office. His major effort revolved around a completely fabricated claim of voting fraud. In 2016, Trump had said before the election, that the only way he could lose, is if the Democrats rigged the election. He set this up long before, as a fallback, and also to follow Goebbels’ dictum to always accuse your enemies of what you are doing.

So rather than just dismiss this out of hand, some media said, “well, let’s see, he has the right to contest the election.” More than that, many Republicans in power supported his claims of fraud. I will not list them all. None of them had a scintilla of actual evidence, but that didn’t stop them. They convinced tens of millions of people who wanted to believe, that he was cheated, that the election had been stolen.

A political party with a shred of honor and regard for the truth, would have immediately dismissed these dangerous and lying charges. But the Republicans mostly did not. They either said nothing, or like the insidious McConnell, said that Trump had the right to contest the results. Or they actively supported him in what is known as “The Big Lie,” but really was just another in a series of lies coming from the Republican Party over the decades.

So then Trump and his allies like Giuliani and Meadows, called various state officials, trying to get them to “find” votes, or say that there was fraud, and so there should be a new election in their state. Trump told Raffensberger in Georgia that he did not have to find fraud, just say there was, and then “the Republicans would take it from there.”

He had lawsuits filed in virtually every battleground state, trying to draw it out, get a favorable ruling, keep himself in office. He might have, actually. There were a few people who would not go along, and very fortunately, major courts tossed out his lawsuits. The lies persisted, and even became more outrageous, with him saying that he had won in a landslide, and that the corrupt Democrats had cheated, brought in votes from Venezuela, or China, or Mexico or Canada, or just wrote them up here.

Any deranged or malicious person who would support him in this, got to be part of his inner circle, and make money off it. He tried to let the insane Sidney Powell be the head of a commission to investigate voter fraud. He and his cabal wanted to get some kind of Independent Counsel hired to study all of this. The goal was of course to delay and delay, while desperately searching for a weak link, a hole through which he could climb to shut down the electoral process.

And the Republicans, a majority of them, were right with him. 147 of them in Congress voted not to certify the election. How could they possibly be this stupid and corrupt? They were, and many still are. For them, everything reduces to a battle between them and the Democrats; and morality, fairness, facts don’t even count. What a dreadful place for this country to have descended to, but it was visible by degrees over the decades, for anyone who cared to look.

The cabal knew that if they could somehow get the electoral certification stopped, and the matter sent to the Congressional delegations, as the Constitution provides for if there is an insoluble election dispute, they would win. This is because the Republicans control a majority of state delegations, and as is tragically true, they would vote for Trump to be declared President, no matter what the votes or the facts were. Just like that.

So the next plan was to stop the certification. Convince Pence not to certify. Or take him out of the picture and get Grassley not to certify, as I think he would have done, saying that there were irregularities, so that more time must be taken, then ultimately handing it to the Congress to declare the winner.

Another possibility was to create so much violence at the Capitol, that the electoral vote could not be certified. Or Trump could declare martial law, invoke the Insurrection Act, blame “Antifa,” and keep power. And who was going to take it from him? Not the spineless Republicans.

How this did not happen, at least enough of it to get Trump what he wanted, is due to the courage of a few people, notably the officer who led the mob in the wrong direction, so that they could not start killing members of Congress. Pelosi, who got them reconvened and the election certified. Pence? We’ll leave that open, but at least he did not wholly capitulate.

So somehow Biden was certified as President-Elect, though of course Trump did not attend the Inauguration, has never said that Biden was elected; and many Republicans in office will not say that; and tens of millions of his followers still believe that Trump was cheated, and want this revenged.

Can anyone possibly conceive of a Democratic candidate or his party ever doing anything like that? Of course not. Therein lies the awful situation which this country is in. One party cheats and lies, the other does not. One party is quick to concede, one never concedes. One party will try every device, lie, false accusation, incitement to violence, to hold power. The other absolutely does not. This may come as a shock to those who hold on to a “both sides” amoralism, but it is the fact.

Going back in history to when the current iterations of the parties began around 1880, when did the Democrats ever cheat to gain or hold political power? Oh there have been a few scandals, but either personal ones, or maybe someone in the Cabinet or advisor group, doing something questionable or illegal in a financial sense. Bobby Baker under JFK. Billy Sol Estes under LBJ. Bert Lance under Carter. All individual and financial.

Clinton’s one scandal was a private consensual, albeit tawdry, relationship. Obama had no scandals. Biden has none. Now, looking at Republicans, we had Teapot Dome in the 1920’s, which was mostly financial, but did give away public land to Harding’s friends and donors. Then in recent times, we had Watergate, which was one in a series of illegal acts conducted with the knowledge and approval of Nixon and his inner circle, to enhance his election chances. He also used the FBI and IRS to go after his enemies.

Under Reagan, there was Iran-Contra, where Republicans deliberately violated an Act of Congress which stated that no money could be allocated to the Contras in Nicaragua. Then they all lied about it, or didn’t remember. Under GW Bush, they made up false Intelligence, to cause the country to go to war, with many killed. And Trump is his own genre, lying about everything, hiding the pandemic danger, stealing inaugural funds, selling out citizens to be murdered, for money.

And of course collaborating with Russia in the 2016 election, and trying to conceal it by firing people, hiding interpreter’s notes; stealing boxes of Top Security documents and destroying them. And then trying to steal the election by getting state officials to lie about the results, trying to seize voting machines to shut down the count; and finally creating carnage at the Capitol Building, leading to death and destruction which would only be to the end of keeping Trump in power.

And so many people went right along with Trump in all of this, either looking away, or actively supporting it, and reveling in the excitement of the plotting, and the rewards they expected to gain from it. And they would not cooperate with the 1/6 Committee, or with DOJ, until a few did after delaying things as long as they could.

And the vast majority of the Republicans did not want there to be a 1/6 Committee, and would disband it immediately if they won the House; and impeach Biden, and drag Hillary back in, and try to throw Schiff out of the House. Does one doubt that? If not, what have Republicans learned from all of this? To cheat better next time? To make so sure that they win the next elections that they never have to worry about this kind of thing again?

Whatever has been learned from these hearings, or what will be learned from the remaining one or few, will not change this frightening imbalance, as if the whole country were at the edge of a precipice, at the bottom of which would be fascism in government, and theocracy in daily life That position has not changed since several months ago, nor would it likely be changed by anything DOJ does, though I wish they would do something, and fast.

The Republican Party is probably unsalvageable, which is a terrifying thought, because there are two parties, and this is one of them. Letting them have any power, anywhere, is like letting the zombies inside one area of the house. They are irredeemable, will not “get better,” or “learn.” They want blood. they want power, forever

That may sound melodramatic, but I don’t think it is. The only thing that will assuage Republicans is to hold all the power, forever. They are in an ongoing effort to suppress the vote in so many states, to give the Republican state legislatures the power to hand every election to the Republicans. Nothing said in this admirable House Committee is going to stop that.

There is not going to be this large exodus of Republicans who see the error and folly of their ways, as the few members of militia groups who testified Tuesday might have, though perhaps not. The Republicans will keep on doing what they do, what is in their genetic makeup. They will suppress votes, try to throw them out, threaten violence at the polls, try to overturn the results of every election that they lose. If they win enough, they will not need to carry out the violence part, but if they do not, they will.

I didn’t mean for this to sound so negative as I wrote it. And I am glad of the January 6 Committee. My girlfriend said that watching it yesterday restored some of her faith in things. And we still have a chance to do pretty well in the elections, though it will take a lot of work and voting. And we have at least one more hearing, which should be very good.

But will this actually change minds, not just about Trump, but the subtext: the deceitfulness, cravenness and rigid authoritarianism of the entire Republican Party? I don’t think that Trump will ever be elected again, but there are a whole bunch of other Republicans who are probably just as bad, in their own way. Or what if there are some Republicans who are terrible on the issues, but not completely amoral; but the voting has been so fixed in their favor, that they just keep winning, putting us in a place which is scarcely better? For another day, at least, the House January 6th Committee gave us a version of a better America, and some very bright and caring and humane people to root for.


2 Responses

  1. One nit:

    Obama had no scandals.

    Not while president, but I would argue that the Democratic party had a scandal during the primaries. They cheated in favor of Obama, of course very few pointed this out, but it was pretty much outright fraud IMO. To me the scandal was that Obama was the candidate in 2008.

    • Well, they certainly violated the DNC charter from the get-go (the DNC charter forbids favoring any candidate during the nomination process).

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