By Zach Hagadone
It’s a singular feeling watching the proceedings of the House Select Committee to Investigate the Jan. 6 Attack on the United States Capitol. After years of being gaslit and bullied, screamed over and bludgeoned with bald-faced lies, distortions and flagrant criminality, the committee is finally cutting through the mental miasma emitted by ex-President Donald Trump and his legions of braying MAGA-hatted asses.
Anyone with the merest rational capacity could see from the beginning the rank odiousness of the Trump presidency and the filthy cult of personality he cultivated among the weakest-minded Americans. Anyone with even a passing grasp on reality could see that every word that came out of that man’s mouth was a lie; and, that anyone who believed him, in doing so committed daily offenses against basic intellectual and moral honesty.
Yet, for years, rationality was stamped and spit on. People who opposed Trump, who pointed out the bare truth of his unfitness, unworthiness and the grievous damage he inflicted on the republic on an hourly basis, were made to feel crazy.
The fabric of the truth itself can be counted among the most tragic casualties of the Trump era. It has been a period in which some of the most shameless liars, sycophants and opportunists in our entire history have weaponized the lazy arrogance of millions of fools and almost brought down the entire edifice.
That’s what makes the Jan. 6 hearings so unique: They are a publicly performed affirmation of sanity. They are proof that the past six years have not only been as shameful as they seemed to people of good faith and firm reason, but actually worse.
We were not crazy. We were never crazy. Trump and his supporters really were as grave an existential threat to the functioning of our society as they appeared — and they remain so.
These have been historic hearings, not just in the sense that they are unprecedented, but they represent one of three times in our history when we’ve been asked in the clear light of day to define and defend the critical foundations of our system of government — the other two being the American Revolution and the Civil War.
That is not hyperbole. Testifying before the committee June 16, retired federal Judge J. Michael Luttig said Trump’s attempts to overturn the 2020 election threatened to trigger a “revolution within a constitutional crisis,” which “would have been the first constitutional crisis since the founding of the republic.”
Jan. 6 Committee Chair Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., in his opening statement June 21 said Trump’s schemes to cling to power despite a clear loss in 2020 represented an attempted “upending of American democracy.”
Committee Vice-Chair Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., urged those watching the hearings to focus on the evidence: “Don’t be distracted by politics. This is serious. We cannot let America become a nation of conspiracy theories and thug violence.”
The evidence, as it has been meticulously presented over the course of four two-hour hearings so far, underscores what any person with eyes to see and ears to hear has known all along: there was no widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election; the election was not “stolen” nor “rigged” at any level; the ex-president lied and flailed and fomented a deadly riot and insurrection against the United States government in its seat of power; that he and his supporters were and are a “clear and present danger” to the security of the nation, in Judge Luttig’s words.
The “steal” was a lie then and it’s a lie now. Yet the “big lie” persists. Even now, with all the evidence — most of it supplied by Trump’s own former lawyers and advisers, even his own family members — the ex-president’s knowing falsehoods are “corrupting our democratic institutions,” Rep. Thompson said on June 21. “People that believe that lie are now seeking positions of public trust.”
While the Jan. 6 hearings have been a welcome statement of the truth in an era of noxious lies, it remains that the nation faces an even bigger threat in the parroting of Trump’s twisted rhetoric. If the individuals now running for office in November win on a platform that puts their oath to the public beneath their commitment to the lie of election fraud, “we won’t have close calls; we’ll have a catastrophe,” Thompson added.
Speaking on Dec. 1, 2020, Georgia Secretary of State COO Gabriel Sterling said publicly, “It has all gone too far. All of it. … This is elections. This is the backbone of democracy, and all of you who have not said a damn word are complicit in this.”
In case we’ve forgotten, that’s what the truth sounds like.
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