“We are living in two Americas.” You often hear people say this, and it seems like people are saying it more often today. We may not always agree on every issue, that’s part of society, we are going to have disagreements, but one would hope that the country could be united against a domestic terrorist attack that threatened our Congress, election, and our democracy. Yet here we are.
In one America, House Republicans worked to sabotage the January 6th Select Committee’s first hearing held on Tuesday, July 27th. On the morning of the hearing, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, and Congressman Jim Jordan held a press conference to gaslight the American people and cast blame on everyone with the exception of the domestic terrorists for their violent attack on the Capitol. They criticized Speaker Pelosi, they condemned “defunding the police” despite the fact that Capitol Police and DC Police were not defunded, and they even blamed the very police officers who put their lives on the line to protect them on January 6th. Others hold even more extreme views and have said January 6th was no different from a normal tourist visit.
Meanwhile, in the other America, the January 6th Committee was determined to uncover the truth to ensure another attack doesn’t happen again. The Committee heard testimony from Capitol and DC Police officers who saw the horrific violence firsthand:
Officer Michael Fanone recounted, “I was grabbed, beaten, tased, all while being called a traitor to my country. I was at risk of being stripped of and killed with my own firearm.” He remembered hearing, “people in the crowd say get his gun. Kill him with his own gun.”
When asked how the attack on January 6th compared to his time serving in Iraq, Sergeant Aquilino Gonell said, “totally different…This is our own citizens. People who we swore an oath to protect but yet they are attacking us with the same flag that they claim to represent.”
Officer Harry Dunn recounted the numerous racial slurs that the terrorists hurled at him and other Black officers. While Officer Daniel Hodges recalled, some terrorists tried to recruit him and asked if he was on their side.
Officer Hodges also discussed the faith of those involved in the attack on the Capitol. “It was clear that the terrorists perceived themselves to be Christians. I saw the Christian flag directly to my front. Another that said ‘Jesus is my savior, Trump is my president.’”
When asked why he has used the term “terrorists” to describe the attackers, Officer Hodges outlined the US criminal code definition of domestic terrorism and underscored how the attack on January 6th epitomized the definition. Officer Hodges’s labeling of domestic terrorism is not new. Earlier this year, FBI Director Christopher Wray testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee and stated that, “Jan. 6 was not an isolated event. The problem of domestic terrorism has been metastasizing across the country for a long time now and it’s not going away anytime soon.”
After the hearing, right-wing media outlets and Republican members of Congress continued to indoctrinate individuals into their America by attacking members of the January 6th committee and belittling the brave officers who testified.
However, the initial reaction to the January 6th attack didn’t cut along partisan lines. In the days following the domestic terror attack on the U.S. Capitol, both Republicans and Democrats spoke out against the heinous attack on our democracy. In a public break from then-President Trump, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said, “The president bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by mob rioters.” One trip to Mar-a-Lago later, McCarthy did a 180 on his stance. Republican leadership and ardent supporters of Trump retreated from the truth and began a campaign to whitewash the events of January 6th.
Most Republicans tried to shift the blame and downplay the severity of the attack on the Capitol by rebranding the domestic terrorists as tourists. They refused and opposed a bipartisan commission modeled after the 9/11 commission to piece together the events that caused and led up to the January 6th attack. At every turn, Republican leadership stonewalled the process proving once again that their commitment to Donald Trump and political power trumps their responsibility to uphold their oaths of office.
Emerging out of the conspiracy-ladened world that Republicans are living in, Representatives Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger have come forward as Republicans of conscience committed to putting country over party and shining a light on the truth.
As Officer Harry Dunn asked, “Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger are being lauded as courageous heroes. And while I agree with that notion, why? Because they told the truth? Why is telling the truth hard?”
It shouldn’t be. If Republicans are unwilling to tell the truth about what happened on January 6th, they do not deserve to serve in public office. With the midterm elections less than a year away, the fate of democracy is on the ballot. Between attacks on voting rights and the attempt to create a revisionist history of January 6th, Republicans are showing that their allegiance is not to democracy, but to power.
Anyone who has sided with treason over truth and refuses to put the constitution and the American people first must be voted out. We cannot continue down this path where the two Americas cannot even agree that democracy is worth protecting. Once every seditionist is removed from office, America can return to partisan disagreements over taxes, the economy, and infrastructure. For now, it’s time to vote for democracy.