The ugly insurrection that occurred on Jan. 6 in Washington — inside the hallowed halls of Congress itself — is not going away.
It cannot be spun and distorted into a useless fog of conflicting allegations.
It must not be used as a bludgeoning political tool, but it also must not be dismissed for political convenience.
It cannot be shuttled off the page under the guise that there’s nothing more to see here.
It must not be forgotten.
On Jan. 6, there was a violent attempt to effectively overturn the results of a presidential election. In a very real sense, it was an attack on America itself.
And that’s why it cannot be dismissed, even as some Senate Republicans now threaten to filibuster a proposed bipartisan commission to investigate what happened on that day. (The commission proposal passed the House with more than 30 GOP votes supporting it, including South Dakota Rep. Dusty Johnson.)
This effort at investigation will either ferret out the truth about an incident that we still know little about, or it will collapse and, if left unchecked, the events of Jan. 6 will be viewed as a template or dress rehearsal for future aspirants.
We can live with the former; we must not live with the latter.
Some congressional Republicans have worked to cast this investigation as a partisan sham. (Why they feel the need to do this poses an interesting question in itself.) On the surface, why Congress wouldn’t want to look into this is unfathomable. True, there are other investigations going on, but they reportedly will only make recommendations about what to do next time. America needs to know what happened THIS time, to perhaps avoid or diffuse a next time.
Jan. 6 was something extraordinary and frightening, contrary to the observations of Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-Georgia), who had the temerity recently to declare, “If you didn’t know the footage was from January 6, you would actually think it was a normal tourist visit.”
Unfortunately, South Dakota Sen. John Thune’s stated view doesn’t look much better. Last week, he said the quiet part out loud when he told CNN: “I want our midterm (election) message to be on the kinds of things that the American people are dealing with … not re-litigating the 2020 elections. A lot of our members … want to be moving forward and not looking backward. Anything that gets us rehashing the 2020 elections, I think, is a day lost on being able to draw a contrast between us and the Democrats’ very radical left-wing agenda.” These words cast Jan. 6 as little more than a political distraction that must not be “re-litigated,” thus sidestepping the fact that it was a frontal assault on our governing process. Or at least that seems to be the senator’s agenda.
At this point, we need neither political vindictiveness nor defensive political hysterics.
Instead, Americans need the facts.
The thing is, we’ll likely get them, one way or another. If Senate Republicans successfully thwart the formation of a bipartisan congressional committee, inquiries could still be initiated through select committees or even with special prosecutors. Thus, those fighting against an investigation now are painting themselves into a dreadful corner that history may view quite dimly.
Jan. 6 simply isn’t going away. It is not about looking backwards, for that dark day will resonate in the American soul for a long time to come. This nation was dragged to a dark place we have rarely thought possible — a place of chaos, instability and weakness. Our democracy was attacked, and that assault must not be waved away as past tense.