January 10, 2020
The events of January 5 and 6 have laid bare the bankruptcy and moral corruption of the national Republican Party. The Republican Party has no vision for our country and no real program to address the many serious issues that we face as a country: namely, the unchecked spread of Covid-19, the ongoing economic distress, the brutality and racism in our criminal justice system, the lack of access to medical care for millions of our residents, the ongoing threat of climate change, and the crumbling of our infrastructure. The Republican Party is divided not about how to address the challenges we all face but how to hold onto power for power's sake. One faction believes in raising all kinds obstacles to people registering to vote such as possessing a special id, banning mail-in voting or making it exceedingly difficult, making it difficult to register, limiting the number of polling places---the list goes on and on.
The other faction really does not believe in democracy or politics by questioning the integrity of elections, and by believing the opposition party is illegitimate. Too many critics of the Democratic Party and of Democrats believe that the Democratic Party is not legitimate. Too often they paint the Democratic Party and Democrats with a broad brush using such terms as "socialist", "communist", and the "far Left." Therefore, according to them a Democratic victory at the polls should not be possible or justified.
All this has been laid bare by the election in Georgia of Rev Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff and the attack on the Capitol the following day. The election of the two Senators from Georgia and the election of Joe Biden to the Presidency has revealed that the amount of fraud or mistakes in our national election is miniscule. All the Presidential recounts in Georgia, Wisconsin, and Arizona revealed a remarkably mistake and fraud free election. Electronic ballots were matched to paper ballots over and over again. Challenges to signatures came up mostly empty. Whatever mistakes that were revealed did not in any way change the final result of the presidential election.
The elections did reveal that when voters were given multiple ways to cast their ballot--early voting, mail-in voting, numerous and accessible polling places--the public responded in record numbers. We had one of the greatest turnouts in an election in recent American history. Access was expanded without compromising the integrity of the election.
This is what led to the attack on the Capitol last Wednesday. The claims that the national election was fraudulent proved to be preposterous. Yet the election of Democrats to presidency and to the Senate in Georgia was not supposed to happen. In the eyes of the anti-democratic faction of the Republican Party led by President Trump, there was no justification for the election of Democrats to these positions. In their eyes, the only explanation was fraud on a massive scale.
Several things are clear. We need to hold responsible the President, his followers who attacked the Capitol, and the Senators who egged them on. Hopefully, the Congress will impeach the President for a second time and prosecutors and the FBI will conduct a thorough and fair investigation in order to determine who is responsible. It is also clear that this attack on our Democracy and democratic institutions will most likely continue. There are too many people who will follow the President to the bitter end. There are too many people who make too much money by equating allegations, rumors, and conspiracies with truth telling. We all should prepare for other challenges and attacks. No one can be naive now.
One the reasons that the Capitol Police were so unprepared for the attack was that the Mayor of the District of Columbia did not have the authority to call up the National Guard and other assets such as aerial surveillance. It is now time for the Congress to make the District of Columbia a State so the we have the ability and authority to protect ourselves from dangerous outsiders and so that we can construct a more humane and just criminal justice system.
Finally, I urge everyone to read Timothy Snyder's essay in today's (Sunday, January 10) New York Times entitled "The American Abyss: A historian of fascism and political atrocity on Trump, the mob and what comes next." Timothy Snyder is the Levin professor of history at Yale University and the author of histories of political atrocity including “Bloodlands” and “Black Earth.” His most recent book is “Our Malady,” a memoir of his own near-fatal illness reflecting on the relationship between health and freedom.