I don’t know…. I got soooo tired of the Donald show every morning for four-plus years. I was sick of being sickened. Maybe I still am, and especially now that the January 6 Commission is filling our heads with the inside scoop on Tyrant Trump and his treasonous enablers. Seems fitting to take a breather. So here’s a bit of fun from this week’s comics, and a seriously funny Jimmy Kimmel video at the end. Enjoy?
Memorial Day honors Americans who died while performing their military duties in our armed forces. This year, it is accompanied by attempts to make Americans sleepwalk through history.
The holiday arrives but three days after Senate Republicans blocked the formation of a bipartisan commission that would have investigated the January 6th Capitol insurrection. And it comes just one day after the Texas Legislature tried but temporarily failed to adopt one of the most stringent voter suppression laws in the country.
What we have, then, is a national holiday commemorating our history, following on the heels of a major political party seeking to deny it.
As former Republican George Will put it, “I would like to see January 6th burned into the American mind as firmly as 9/11 because it was that scale of a shock to the system.” Yet in filibustering the commission into oblivion, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and company sought to minimize a day that, like both 9/11 and Pearl Harbor, should live in infamy.
Even worse, the move seeks to prevent our fully finding out what happened that day. What did Donald Trump know and do – or deliberately fail to do – while the Capitol was under attack? Who else failed to act, and why? What kinds of collaboration might have been going on among the rioters and with outside forces?
Then there’s the Texas legislation, temporarily derailed when Democrats walked out and denied the Legislature a quorum, but sure to resurface and most likely pass when Gov. Greg Abott calls a special session later this year. Among other things, the bill “included new restrictions on absentee voting; granted broad new autonomy and authority to partisan poll watchers; escalated punishments for mistakes or offenses by election officials; and banned both drive-through voting and 24-hour voting, which were used for the first time during the 2020 election in Harris County, home to Houston and a growing number of the state’s Democratic voters.”
It’s but the latest and perhaps most ambitious of the like-minded slew of democracy-gutting proposals that Republican-controlled state governments are pushing into law across the country in preparation for the 2022 and 2024 elections.
It’s also part and parcel of the Republican effort to promote the Big Lie, still bought by 61 percent of Republicans in a national poll just two weeks ago, that the election was stolen from Donald Trump. The circular justification for the voter suppression in Texas and elsewhere is that in the wake of 2020 people have doubts about election integrity – doubts spurred by the Big Lie and its associated prevarications.
It’s all so 1984. But in addition to Ignorance is Strength, we have lies are facts. Instead of a Ministry of Truth, we have Fox News going even more whole hog to promote this hogwash in response to viewer encroachment by Far(ther) Right outlets Newsmax and One America News.
Why Did They Die?
And we have an ongoing attempt to erase recent history and memory.
Which brings us back to today’s holiday. The Americans mourned on Memorial Day gave their lives for many things: their country, their communities, their families, their friends, the folks in their squads. A more cynical take would explain some deaths in terms of their leaders’ sometimes dubious foreign policy goals.
Regardless, one thing many died for – or at least felt they were dying for – is democracy. What an irony that they fell defending it abroad only to have it threatened here at home.
In downplaying and perpetrating the greatest internal attacks on our democracy since the Civil War, congressional Republicans and other Party leaders are desecrating the graves of the fallen.
Let me be clear: I’m not attacking the many, many Republicans who have served and love America. But with shockingly few exceptions, the Party’s leaders have made the GOP into something shockingly destructive.
And for what? No grand principle. No crying need. Just the tawdriest of causes: to fuel and appease some voters’ repugnance against people who supposedly don’t belong; to cling to power and perks at all costs; to sell their souls for 30 pieces of political silver.
History Is What We Make It
But the story does not end there. We’re not helpless in the face of these attempts to flush recent history down the toilet. We can donate, campaign, educate and otherwise act to combat the danger. Texas Democratic legislators scored a victory of sorts by delaying the voter suppression vote and ensuring it will get renewed scrutiny down the line. Congress’s Democratic leaders can go ahead and appoint a select committee to investigate January 6th, pointing out that they gave the Republicans every fair chance to go bipartisan.
We can be active participants in history, not simply observers. To act otherwise is to accept defeat in the middle of the battle.
Benicia resident Stephen Golub offers excellent perspective on his blog, A Promised Land: Politics. Policy. America as a Developing Country.
To access his other posts or subscribe, please go to his blog site, A Promised Land.
The Coup-a-meter measures a specific kind of danger: how close we are to an active coup. Just as a speedometer cannot tell you the temperature, right now the Coup-o-meter is not the best way to gauge the current threat to our democracy.
It is true that the President is actively working to overturn the 2020 election results. Trump’s actions on his call with Georgia Secretary of State Raffensperger were an illegal attempt to defraud the citizens of Georgia and deprive them of their votes. Trump has stated his intention to overturn election results that were not in his favor since before the election and he continues to look for collaborators who will help him do so. For Republicans, the challenge over the past two months has been finding ways to appear as if they are moving toward overturning the election without ever actually reaching that point. To do so, they have relied on lawsuits, recounts, and audits that they knew would fail but which would put off the inevitable: having to tell Trump that he lost the November election.
Wednesday, Republicans will interrupt the ceremonial electoral vote count. Doing so will have as much effect on the transition to a Biden administration as interrupting his inauguration on January 20th would have: none. But the point of this exercise is not to stop the transition, it is to put off the day when Trump turns on the members of his own party.
But if Trump is attempting to overturn the election, why not call this a coup? This is not a semantic argument: Tactics that are appropriate for one situation are often counterproductive in another. A coup is a rapid seizure of power that builds momentum and requires an immediate and broad response to overturn it. A general strike and mass demonstrations have proven to be effective tactics when fighting a coup, which is why our friends at Choose Democracy spent weeks training thousands of people around the country in these methods. But because this is not a coup, employing these tactics could backfire. If Trump has signaled anything in the past few months, it is that he is itching for a fight. Large street battles between those supporting and opposing Trump might well be the one thing that would justify domestic use of the military. Unlike the theatrics being employed by Republicans in Congress, military action could interrupt the peaceful transition of power.
There are good reasons not to be distracted by the current circus. The true goals of the Republican leadership are the same as they were last year and the year before that: depriving citizens of their right to vote. The current maelstrom of misinformation created by Trump will be put to use by Republicans in the coming months to limit early and mail-in voting, purge voter rolls, and enact voter ID laws. These are the threats to democracy that we face, and we should not let the interruption of ceremonies distract us from them.
Benicia residents have formed a temporary organization under the umbrella Choose Democracy Benicia, in anticipation of potential trouble on Election Day and after.
Democrats, Republicans and Independents agree that in a democracy, every vote should be counted, and the results should be carefully verified and universally accepted. This will surely not take place ON ELECTION DAY. Warning signs indicate that there is every possibility some will claim the election is over on November 4.
A national organization, Protect the Results has built a quick coalition of voters ready to mobilize if Trump undermines the results of the 2020 presidential election. Choose Democracy Benicia urges you to attend a nearby peaceful rally on November 4.