History repeats itself, or so they say. But this is not entirely accurate. It would be more accurate to say that we allow history to repeat itself.
We all witnessed the horror that occurred in the United States Capitol on January 6. We now understand the insurrection as part of a larger and well-coordinated effort to reverse the will of the people, an effort that continues to this day. And we recognize that unless we face the realities and ramifications of that day, January 6 will repeat itself over and over again.
Yet in the wake of January 6 and in the run-up to the 2022 midterm elections, the leaders of the MAGA-dominated Republican Party are implementing a dangerous manual. Their message is clear: it’s time to move on.
The playbook is a three-step dance. First, dismiss insurrections and white supremacists as a few bad apples on the fringes of the Republican Party. “It doesn’t look like an armed insurrection when there are people breaking through the Capitol, and I don’t approve of it, but they stay within the rope lines at the Rotunda.” offered by Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wis.).
Democrats “want to try to besmirch, smear and demean all conservatives on behalf of a handful of people who did something wrong on January 6.” said Rep. Bob Good (R-Virginia).
Or like Representative Andrew Clyde (R-Ga.) Put it on, “If you did not know that the television images are a video from January 6, you would think that it is a normal tourist visit.”
Next, minimize the insurrection by pointing to the apparent strength of American institutions. “The shock of January 6 was that the railings collapsed for a brief moment after standing for years,” writes Ben Shapiro in his new book, “The Authoritarian Moment: How the Left Arms America’s Institutions Against Dissidence.” “And then the railings were re-erected, including by some of Trump’s former allies.”
This argument misses some key details. First, the insurrection was a planned coordinated effort months before, and the railings were already weakened by a concerted disinformation campaign led by the former president. Also missing from this revisionist narrative: a few hours after the insurgents were expelled from the Capitol compound, while a team of mostly black and brown men and women they were still sweeping up the broken glass and removing the graffiti – six Republican Senators and 121 House Republicans supported an objection to Arizona electoral votes. They did so despite the violence that had just emerged from this lie, the lie they continued to promote, that the elections had been stolen.
The last step is to divert. Republican House Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseHouse Republican Party Seeks to Stop Biden from Reopening Palestinian Mission in Jerusalem Hillicon Valley – Biden Signs Telecom Security Bill Biden Signs Bill to Protect Telecom Systems Against Foreign Threats MORE (R-La.) wanted to discuss “All kinds of political violence.”
Its. Josh hawleyJoshua (Josh) David Hawley For Democrats, It Should Be About Votes, Not Megaphones Risch Dismayed At Other Republican Senators Blocking Biden Standoff’s Diplomatic Election Scraps Quick Settlement On Senate Defense Bill Before The Day Thanksgiving MORE (R-Mo.) – who led the charge among the objectors of the Senate elections and raised a fist in solidarity with the crowd on the morning of the insurrection – has blamed Housr Speaker Nancy pelosiNancy Pelosi China draws scrutiny over tennis star Peng Shuai case Man seen with Pelosi lectern on Jan 6 pleads guilty No responsibility for US carbon footprint MORE (D-Calif.), falsely suggesting who rejected requests for support from the National Guard before the insurrection.
And Shapiro shifts the focus from American institutions clinging to what he sees as the far greater threat from the illiberal left.
The playbook is riddled with holes. It does not allow for discussion of Arizona’s objection, the obstruction of the work of the Jan. 6 select committee, or the fact that Senate Republicans blocked the initial proposal for an independent, bipartisan party. January 6 Commission modeled on the 9/11 commission. The playbook does not discuss the impact of the 63 trials challenge the electoral processes undertaken by former President TrumpDonald TrumpOvernight Energy & Environment – Biden to Release 50 Million Barrels of Oil Reserve On The Money – Biden: America Should ‘Rest Easy’ on Prices Former NYPD Commissioner to Testify Before the Jan.6 Committee and demands MORE apologiescampaign across the country, ignores the countless conservative elected officials who still refuse to appoint Joe bidenJoe BidenKyle Rittenhouse: No Money Traded For Tucker Carlson Interview, Overnight Energy & Environment Documentary Series – Biden To Release 50 Million Barrels Of Oil Reserve On The Money – Biden: America Should ‘Rest Easy’ On Prices MORE as legitimately elected president, and does not mention Arizona’s bogus vote audit and those that follow. It borders the theme of the 33 laws enacted in 19 states that would restrict access to the vote and empower supporters to override the will of the people.
Conservative leaders have embraced this strategy because it allows them to move on from January 6 without having to really acknowledge and consider what happened on January 6. They also use it because it is a good policy for them. A new Quinnipiac University Survey shows that 66 percent of Republicans don’t see the Capitol storming as an attack on the government, and 74 percent say enough is known about that day. Republican leaders have said it’s time to move on, despite all the evidence to the contrary, and their supporters are doing just that.
Responding adequately to the 2020 elections and the insurrection of January 6 is an imperative for our democracy. We must seriously consider the Freedom to Vote Act, a bona fide voting rights pledge led by Sen. Joe manchinJoe ManchinOvernight Energy & Environment – Biden to Release 50 Million Barrels of Oil Reservoir On The Money – Biden: America Should ‘Rest Easy’ on Prices Biden’s move to tap into oil reserves draws GOP pushback MORE (DW.Va.). We must update the Electoral Counting Law to avoid uncertainties and future constitutional crises. We must deal with misinformation on social media platforms and within our political processes, finding a way to elevate fact over fiction. And finally, we need conservatives like Liz cheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn Cheney Trump allies leaning on his executive privilege claim that two Fox News contributors resigned over Tucker Carlson January 6 documentary Trump supports Gosar after no-confidence vote MORE and Adam kinzingerAdam Daniel Kinzinger Kinzinger on a possible gubernatorial run: ‘I’m the only candidate who can win’ against Pritzker McBath to run in the neighboring district after the Republican Party redesigned lines Texas Democratic Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson announces his retirement at end of term MORE that they are brave enough not to look away or look away, that they will face the crisis in their party head-on.
The next presidential elections are not that far off and efforts to undermine our democracy are only increasing. We cannot downplay, divert, and dismiss these threats to our democracy and our national security. If we do, history could repeat itself on January 6, 2025.
Jamie Neikrie is a legislative affairs associate with Issue One, the leading cross-party political reform group in DC.