Today marks the first anniversary of the storming of the U.S. Capitol to stop Congress from certifying the results of the 2020 election. After months of predicting "they" would try to steal the election to stating and repeating "they" stole the election, President Trump and his allies deliberately set up a rally on January 6th to put pressure on Congress and Vice President Mike Pence to stop it. It was a clear and inevitable breakdown of the democratic process.
The rally and subsequently sending the crowd to the Capitol was intended to put pressure on Congress and the Vice President “to do the right thing,” but it went wrong. The events leading up to and after election night 2020 laid out the perfect blueprint for anyone who wants to take by force what they cannot win by choice. I don’t believe the attack on the Capitol was necessarily part of the grand plan. Some of those attending prepared for violence and were the match that lit the fuse. One year later and the facts are still unfolding. How much longer will it take to figure it out, and what are we doing to prevent it from happening again?
Green Bay Sweep
This week, former Trump adviser Peter Navarro explained the Green Bay Sweep in great detail on a whirlwind book tour. In short, the plan was to object to the swing states in question and debate for hours in hopes of sending the certified results back to the states or trigger a House vote under the 12th Amendment. The plan's name is a call back to a play devised by Vince Lombardi where a running back would move parallel to the line until blockers moved in place and helped move the ball downfield. It was an incremental process to burn time off the clock.
Navarro characterizes January 6th as being perfectly planned but taken off the rails by the attack on the Capitol. Below is an interview he did with Ari Melber of MSNBC. It's quite something.
Unlike many other Republicans who half-heartedly talk about the 2020 election to appease a base, Navarro believes what he's saying. So much so, he willingly goes on television and talks about it without reservation. My guess is the January 6 Committee will be sending him a subpoena to stop by and visit very soon.
What’s in a Name?
There's a lot of debate over the description of the events of January 6, from insurrection to terrorist attack to the most interesting one from Senator Ron Johnson (Wisconsin), "peaceful protest." A December 2021 poll from UMass Amherst shows a consensus among Democrats that it was an insurrection (70 percent) or riot (75 percent), while Republicans overwhelmingly believed it was a protest (80 percent).
Sidenote: If you’re a “crosstab nerd” like me, one of the more interesting data points was that while 11 percent of Republican voters called it an insurrection, 22 percent of Trump voters did.
At a hearing on Wednesday, Senator Ted Cruz, who has worked so hard to get Trump voters to love and trust him, referred to January 6th as a "violent terrorist attack." Let's say Tucker Carlson and others were displeased.
Earlier this week, The Washington Post reported on a recent poll under the banner, On anniversary of Jan. 6, Trump's ‘Big Lie’ has only gained traction. According to a WaPo/University of Maryland poll taken in December, 29 percent of Americans do not believe President Joe Biden’s election is legitimate. Sixty-eight percent of Trump voters believe he was not legitimately elected, and strangely, 3 percent of Biden voters feel the same way.
Sidenote: If you need a glimmer of hope, while 58 percent of Republicans say Biden was not legitimately elected, that’s down from 70 percent right after the Capitol attack in 2021.
These results mirror the UMass Amherst poll, where 58 percent of Americans accept the legitimacy of Biden’s election, with 71 percent of Republicans believing it is illegitimate.
The Unpopular Opinion
I wanted to write this week about how Republicans need to get their heads out of their asses and clean up their act. It has its time, and we will discuss it. However, I got stuck on polling data about the legitimacy of elected presidents. A quick snapshot of past polls from the WaPo/UMD polling:
The cross-section data isn’t available for Bush, but in a 2001 CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll, a third of Democrats said Bush stole the election, and half of those polled believed he won on a technicality.
By relative standards, Americans view Joe Biden’s election as more legitimate than either Donald Trump or George W. Bush. There’s something telling about this attitude of the other guy in the White House.
I recently wrote about The Festivus of Politics, where I discussed Whataboutism:
In this case, political figures find a time when “the other side” exercised their situational ethics and are now doing something different. This example gives “our side” the excuse to be as bad as them, but a little bit more. In short, the ends justify the means. You don’t have to treat every bad act as precedence for future bad acts. By doing so, politics continues to be an escalation game that leads to progressively worse outcomes.
My point is not to excuse the rioters or the politicians responsible for the attack on the Capitol. Instead, we need to recognize that delegitimizing the president has been a sport for a generation. I didn’t even go back to the Clinton years, where he won both elections by a plurality, not a majority of voters (Democrats like the Electoral College in those days). This is the D.C. story; the other party’s guy is terrible and probably cheated to get there. Flip, rinse, repeat.
I realize that Republicans are not profiles in courage right now, but the Democrats aren’t helping either. Joe Biden campaigned on the idea of bipartisanship and immediately started lobbing ambitious pieces of legislation on the table that have little bipartisan appeal. When Mitt Romney and Liz Cheney vote their conscience, they are “putting country over party.” Ask Joe Manchin if he gets those accolades when he’s navigating life in a state where Joe Biden got 30 percent of the vote. So let’s admit that the appetite for cooperation is not driven by Washington or demanded by the voters.
For the past 30 years, the power struggle in Washington has been pretty evenly balanced, both in Congress and the White House. Dysfunction and rhetoric have gradually replaced policy and bipartisanship. Partisan control has shifted chaotically, and the electorate is divided in the middle. It’s no wonder the filibuster is under assault because requiring the Senate to build consensus is too inconvenient in a world built on instant gratification.
What I’m suggesting is that this power struggle has been the gasoline poured out over the years to get to the Capitol attack. When asked if political violence against the government is ever justified, it has increased from 9 percent in 1995 to 34 percent today.
As I wrote in Outrage, Inc., “It does not matter what your political bent is; you’re being manipulated every day by an increasingly sophisticated group of people who want your attention, loyalty, and action.” Fifty-seven percent of Americans believe something like January 6 will happen again in the next few years. If we continue on the current course, that number will grow. Somehow we've got to back down what's making this anger swell.
As former President Jimmy Carter said in an op-ed about January 6, "For American democracy to endure, we must demand that our leaders and candidates uphold the ideals of freedom and adhere to high standards of conduct." The only question is whether it’s too late. A recent poll shows that only 49 percent of Americans have faith in American democracy.
There’s a well-worn phrase from military circles, “Hope is not a strategy.” Of course, we could hope for a leader to emerge to make it happen, but Washington leads from behind. Our current system is failing us, and it must be us that demands systemic change and hold our respective parties accountable.
Jim Swift writes on the challenging timeline of the January 6 Committee.
Matt Fuller, Capitol Hill reporter, shares his experiences and frustrations from January 6.
Liz Cheney will not stop until she brings Trump to justice for the January 6 riot.
If you don’t know who Dan Bongino is, you might want to learn about him.
Sean Hannity gets an invitation to the January 6 investigation.
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One of the hardest conversations I ever had with my father was when I came out as a Republican. How I got there and why I’ve stayed.
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I like your The Rundown feature.