For the foreseeable future, whenever January arrives and people say, “Happy New Year,” we will pause and think, “Damn, it’s almost the anniversary of that fucking insurrection, isn’t it?”
Yes, it is.
Of course, first anniversaries are the most intense. One solid year since you got married, or started a job, or became a pescatarian, or, as in this case, one year since a mob of racist, overly entitled, right-wing zealots stormed the Capitol in a bloody caterwauling that has now been revealed to have been an incompetent coup attempt.
Happy anniversary indeed.
At the time, the nation was united (more or less) in condemning a murderous rampage through the halls of congress. But as the months passed, conservatives went from distancing themselves from the rioters to downplaying the attacks to, at our current stage, praising a violent rebellion against the U.S. government.
For example, one of my conservative acquaintances quit social media on January 7, saying that things had gotten “too negative.” This was as close as he got to admitting that he had supported a neo-fascist lunatic, and was too embarrassed to stay online. But a few months later, he popped back up with innocuous, nonpolitical posts. A few months after that, he began posting snarky comments about Biden. Around Christmas, he ranted about “socialism” and the perils of being “woke.” Finally, this week, he posted a torturous justification for the riots, explaining that they occurred because “patriots” were tired of paying the bills for freeloaders.
What a curious evolution.
Indeed, according to the GOP, the real crime isn’t that a defeated president exhorted his weak-willed followers into smashing through barricades, vandalizing the Capitol, and bludgeoning a cop to death. No, the real crime is trying to find out what the hell happened.
You see, Republicans have essentially boycotted the House select committee investigating the riot. The GOP is not interested in figuring out how a guy dressed like an extra from Dances With Wolves ended up taking over the House chamber. Despite conservative antipathy, however, the committee has discovered that our beloved ex-president ignored pleas to stop the American carnage, that Fox News lied even more than usual, and that aides to the President exchanged plans to overthrow democracy.
And that’s just for starters—the committee won’t wrap up its work until summer at the earliest.
It will be difficult to learn the full truth, however, because “the circle closest to Trump is not going to try to deny involvement in the attempt to overturn the election, but rather is challenging Congress’s authority to ask about their actions.” In essence, they are “declaring that they are not bound by our laws“ and that we should all just shut up and let them do whatever they want.
There is, of course, precedent for the party of law and order using violence to get its way. The infamous Brooks Brothers Riot ended the recounting of ballots in Florida during the 2000 election, helping George W. Bush eventually win the state and the election. In this way, the GOP’s threats of “violence, fear and physical intimidation affected the outcome of a lawful elections process,” so imagining that “Republican operatives would fall back on a violent mob to slow down an election proceeding twenty years after it had worked so well is not a stretch.”
No, to be honest, it is painfully easy to imagine exactly that.
So where does this leave us, one year after a blatant assault on democracy that has no comparison in American history?
Well, a Canadian political science professor has analyzed the situation, and his findings are just a little on the grim side.
Professor Thomas Homer-Dixon, a “well-respected scholar of violent conflict with over 40 years worth of experience,” says that by 2025, American democracy “could collapse, causing extreme domestic political instability, including widespread civil violence.” The professor adds that by 2030, “if not sooner, the country could be governed by a right-wing dictatorship.”
OK, that is not exactly what we wanted to hear.
The professor is publicizing his views because he fears that America’s collapse could destabilize his home country of Canada as well. That’s just typical of Canadians, thinking only about themselves.
Oh wait, that’s an American trait. Never mind.
In any case, one year after bedlam, the nation is more divided than ever. But regardless of our political viewpoints, most of us recognize the significance of January 6.
But don’t let anybody tell you that it’s a happy anniversary.
Featured image by Gage Skidmore/CC BY-SA 2.0