The USA, (Brussels Morning Newspaper) Fully seventeen months after the events of January 6th, 2021, the House Congressional committee charged with investigating the storming of the capitol will begin having public hearings on June 9th. January 6th, 2021 is commonly referred to as the insurrection, but it should be apparent to anybody who was paying attention either before or after that date that January 6th was part of a much larger and still ongoing insurrection.
The investigation into these events has already revealed a fair amount about the extent to which the Trump administration, and Trump administration adjacent people, were involved in the planning of that day. It is now clear beyond a doubt that the effort to overturn the election was substantial and enjoined by many around the former President.
Tragically, the gravity of these events has been lost in the eighteen months since they occurred. This is partially due to the failure of the media to cover this consistently or to hold the many GOP apologists for what amounted to a coup attempt accountable. Most of the blame lies with the Republican Party whose elected officials and candidates have spent much of the last year and a half downplaying the significance of what happened on January 6th, in some cases describing it as if the violent insurrectionists were simply tourists who made a wrong turn at the Capitol. In addition, the Republican Party leadership has consistently sought to further undermine the legitimacy of the 2020 election by suggesting that Donald Trump was the rightful winner. They have done this despite not having a shred of evidence to prove this and through offering explanations that range from outright lies to wacky outright lies.
The Democratic Party leadership is not blameless in this either. Too many Democrats in Congress began to focus on other things while failing to consistently speak of the storming of the Capitol and the role of the GOP in allowing it to happen. President Biden himself, whose obsession with the possibility of bipartisan cooperation has been shown to be an anachronistic fetish that badly damaged his presidency, was guilty of this as well. Following his inauguration, he did not make a major address about the events of January 6th, 2021 until one year later on January 6th, 2022.
Given all this, the enthusiasm around the upcoming hearings by some in and around the Democratic Party is, well, kind of pathetic. It is true that the House Committee has put a lot of time and energy into their work and that they have turned up some extremely interesting, if troubling, findings, but it is also clear that we are way past the point in American politics where the people are anxiously waiting to hear the truth from an earnest congressional committee. That there are still people who believe this, or anything else, will be the thing that finally breaks the cultish spell that the MAGA movement casts over a sizeable proportion of the American and over the entire GOP leadership, is perplexing.
Regardless of what is revealed at the hearing, who testifies or what they say, within a few weeks probably only within a few days, the media will be back to covering high gas prices and the polls will show little if any, movement away from Trump and the GOP. The Republican Party spent much of the last 18 months inoculating themselves from whatever may come from these hearings. It is easy, and important, to blame the GOP for this. They have consistently lied about the election and January 6th. Attacked any discussion of the events of January 6th as reflecting the Democrats’ obsession with Trump and have encouraged their voters to believe the most outrageous and bizarre stories about the Democrats and the election.
Essentially, the GOP has behaved precisely as we have come to expect the GOP to behave, and, for some reason, the Democrats were unprepared for this. By taking eighteen months to have these public hearings, by not talking enough about the threat to democracy posed by Trump and the GOP before and after January 6th, and by allowing Republican members of Congress to participate in political life without constantly reminding the voters of the role those people, like Ted Cruz or Kevin McCarthy, played in spreading lies about the election, the Democrats allowed the memory of what really happened around January 6th to fade away. Now they are faced with the difficult challenge of reminding voters of those events and their significance.
This challenge is framed by the insurrection itself. The violent rioters may have failed on January 6th, but they have not given up. Thus, these public hearings are occurring not when the insurrection is over and the US is ensuring it will not happen again, but essentially mid-insurrection as the insurrectionists are planning future strategies. In some sense, this makes the work of the House committee and these public hearings even more important, but this is also why the hearings themselves are unlikely to change too many opinions.