The 6 January Congressional Committee Report: Democracy Discarded

Now that the 6 January Congressional Committee’s introduction to its final report is out and being dissected by all the punditing pundits and head talking talking heads — it will soon be a double header with the actual report being published tomorrow (if I publish in time, big if, right?) — we should consider carefully what its conclusions mean for our democracy.

While it is gratifying to hear people and pundits (not that pundits aren’t people, well, maybe) describe the coup as an assault on democracy and describe the Republican Party as completely given over to authoritarianism and even describing them as Nazis, I have to say that they don’t go far enough.

Essentially, the Republicans across the country beat our democracy to within an inch of its life and dumped it in a garbage dumpster like some serial killer in a Netflix b-grade made for digital export movie would. Luckily, it didn’t die as all the punditing pundits pundited it would.

Disillusioned with Democracy Lacks Urgency

Here’s an article by the popular writer and lawyer, Terri Kanefield, where she characterizes Trump’s and the Republican Party’s billionaire backers as being disillusioned with democracy, not as being Nazis bent on installing pseudo-democratic, single-party, minority-rule authoritarianism.

To be fair, this piece was written weeks before the committee released its preliminary report, and she does go on to describe Trump as the Republican’s wrecking ball for our democracy. The problem is that she describes the Republican Party’s rejection of democracy, thusly: They are mostly in agreement with Trump’s goals and they don’t care if he breaks laws. They don’t think democracy is working any longer, so they reject the laws and norms that underlie our democracy.

Whereas, Ye Olde Blogge would describe it as, They don’t give a rat’s ass about democracy and never have! They see it as an impediment to achieving their goal, which is to transfer the nation’s wealth to the one percent as quickly as possible and leave the rest us to live in Cancer Alley, drink Flint water, pay for Texas utilities, and die as quickly and quietly as possible when we stop contributing more than we cost. They smell blood in the water and are going in for the kill.

There is a difference in urgency.

The 6 January Committee Report Summary

The conclusions reached by the committee can be summed up thusly:

  • There was a widespread, organized, multi-pronged coup against our country in which Trump and the Republican Party used multiple means including courts, fraudulent electors, a pressure campaign against state officials, and finally a violent insurrection to stop the peaceful transfer of power to the rightful winner of the 2020 presidential election.
  • Trump, John Eastman, and others knowingly committed multiple crimes in pursuit of this coup and should be prosecuted for them.
  • Many coup participants not only were in office at the time of the coup, but remain in office now, waiting for another chance in 2024.

The difference isn’t that these people have suddenly tired of democracy and started believing that it no longer works, they’ve always been against a liberal pluralistic democracy and have always been for a very limited minority-rule democracy vis-a-vis the Confederacy where the state exists to further enrich the rich and squeeze every farthing of value it can from the non-rich before casting them onto the ash heap of refuse where every other spent resources is.

Weakening Democratic Institutions

The problem is that we’ve survived the 2018, 2020, and 2022 challenges to our democracy where had our coalition not held together and we weren’t able to get our voters to the polls in spite of voter suppression and voter nullification laws, we would’ve lost our democracy and be living in the #GOPDystopia.

However, Trump and the Congressional Republicans have succeeded in weakening many of our democratic institutions from the electoral infrastructure, to the judiciary, to the cabinet offices, to the Congress itself so that fighting their authoritarianism becomes all the harder. As Timothy Snyder says, the way to strengthen democracy is to use its institutions and protect its institutions. Now that they are substantially weakened, we will have a much harder time doing that.

The other problem is that we have a substantial percentage of the electorate (about a third by my reckoning) willing to vote for the authoritarians and their naked antidemocratic racist misogynistic rhetoric. We have a majority of white people who regularly fall victim to the racist dog whistles of the Southern Strategy and vote Republicans into office even if it isn’t in their own best interest.

As Kanefield, helpfully, points out (links are mine):

Political scientist Karen Stenner explains it this way: As liberal democracy expands and includes more people, it becomes more diverse and complicated. The growing diversity and complexity trigger authoritarian reactions in people who are averse to complexity and cannot tolerate diversity

This is particularly true when an increasingly diverse electorate threatens the power and status of the ethnic majority. Daniel Ziblatt and Steven Levitsky, Harvard political scientists, put it this way:

“It is difficult to find examples of societies in which shrinking ethnic majorities gave up their dominant status without a fight.” (How Democracies Die, p. 207.)

Terri Kanefield Disillusioned With Democracy

The issue is that many of the institutions of democracy, especially the Congressional ethics committees, are not up to the task of saving our democracy. As The 6 January Committee has identified representatives and senators that played a role in the coup, and they either still sit in Congress or were re-elected. Our democracy is not and cannot be safe unless and until they are all held accountable and removed from office.

Yet, somehow, the representatives — all save one, Mo Brooks who lost his bid to be Alabama’s senator — have all been reelected, and Senator Ron Johnson returned for six more years. In other words, there is electoral support for authoritarianism from white voters, as Ye Olde Blogge and many others have been shouting from the rooftops for years.

Some Good News

The good news is that for the first time in twelve years, a majority of Americans will live in states ruled by Democratic governments. Caveats: (a) It is a bare majority, 140 million versus 137 million and (b) it is not a majority of states. Republicans still control 24 state governments to Democrats, 18. The skew of Republican states towards rural underpopulated states is worrisome and may still deliver an authoritarian state to us.

There is further good news, though. Just like in 1929 and the Crash, people worried that Americans would stage some kind of communist revolution and overthrow the government. Instead, we collectively waited until the 1932 election, while people literally starved to death, to elect FDR and his New Deal curbs on the excesses of laissez-faire capitalism. And, just like the Hoover supporters of that era, the Republican Party has been dedicated to undoing the social safety net and returning us to boom-and-bust capitalism because that is the fastest surest way to enrich the one percent.

Just like then, the American people rose up and spoke with a quavering and sometimes cracking voice in 2022 and denied the Republicans any kind of victory that could completely unmake our democracy. Unfortunately, it was not the resounding defeat that was necessary to cause the Republicans to change course.

Not that it would really matter. Republicans have been on this course since the 1880’s, there is no reason to expect that they would ever really truly deviate from it.

What this really tells us and what the punditing pundit class who get paid the big bucks and want you to subscribe to their substacks and pay them even more money miss is that we barely survived 2022 and will face another test in 2024.

The only way we survive 2024 is if we accomplish the Himalayan task of keeping our coalition together and getting voters registered, keep them registered, and then get them out to vote.

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Image Attribution

Dumpster” by Seth Tisue is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

14 replies »

  1. It’s because the whutes are no longer a majority, though in their minds’ eyes it’s their country, and they have a very small, very recognizable window of opportunity to keep it. By any means.

    It’s with tongue-in-cheek when I joke about the Ghost Dance, but I never could quite get it typed how rats knowing they are dying will destroy everything around them, rip it to sheds, even themselves and others around them. The Ghost Dance ~ just wait, the whutes will kill themselves off ~ is no joke … they’re killing us off with them. Not unlike rats.

    I find it humorous, this fear of losing what they stole …

    Liked by 1 person

    • Howdy Ten Bears!

      The credo of the white racist is as long as it hurts PoC first and worst, any white collateral damage is worth it. They’d rather burn it all to the ground — including, and maybe, especially, by climate change — than give up white privilege. I think you’re right. Just like rats.



  2. It’s just, another way, that the Republicans have, of, justifying their own bad behaviors, throwing all those rights endowed to the citizens, away. Those who followed Trump’s lead had been, brainwashed by his, MAGA preachings, and, as long as those in the U.S. still believe that Trump will be the one, who will “Make America Great, Again”, they will always follow behind this, cultist, political, party.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Howdy Taurus!

      What’s troubling is that it isn’t just Trump. It is a segment of white America that has had their inner authoritarian emboldened and another segment that is easily seduced by the racist dog whistles of the Southern Strategy. They are not brainwashed. They really want minority rule. That’s the scary part.

      I’ll be posting more about this in the coming weeks as we begin gearing up for the 2024 elections.



  3. When it comes to the institutions of democracy defending the institutions of democracy (the very definition of the dreaded “Deep State”), we now wait in hope of a cascade if indictments of the seditious conspirators, fraudsters, and scammers. As members of the committee observed, other prosecutors than DOJ have reason to be interested in the evidence provided. Will they act? We will see.

    The idea that a member of Congress or senator cannot be held to account by any other than their chamber’s ethics committee or the voters, no matter how gross the lie or how profound the defamation is simply crazy. One might be able to hope that sedition and insurrection can become exceptions.

    And that is the operative word in the entire problem, SEDITION. That is what the long-term path of the GOP has been about.

    Shortly, we will have Trump’s tax returns to ponder. Will the damning secrets they contain be obvious? Certainly not. Those tax filings and the whole structure of his business are designed to be opaque and confusing. Digging wil be required, but pundits will happily jump to conclusions.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Howdy Bob!

      Part of the ongoing puzzle of how to stymie our turn toward authoritarianism is how to get voters to hold the GOP accountable. As a group, white voters just won’t do it. So, now we are in a race to see whether the GOP’s voter suppression and voter nullification efforts can install a minority-rule authoritarian regime or whether our demographic shift will hold them to account.

      It is no mean feat that 140 million Americans live in 18 states now live under Democratic rule while 137 million live under GOP rule in 24 states, but that just points to the structural advantages the GOP has in the senate and electoral college.

      Another question that comes up from the report is what is happening in the AG’s offices in Michigan, Arizona, and Wisconsin. Why aren’t they opening investigations into the false electors plot?

      I guess we can see it as the glass half-full and not as cracked and never going to fill beyond that point that we have multiple avenues of prosecuting the seditionists, but the question of whether or not anyone in the offices who can will is still troubling.


      Liked by 1 person

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