Like many Americans, I watched, stunned, as a frenzied crowd breached the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. I sat, transfixed and horrified, as police were beaten, deranged conspiracy theorists roamed the halls of the seat of U.S. government and a president who would no longer be president watched it all unfold, apparently pleased with himself and his followers, who, by this point, had become a cult.
Surely, I thought, this is the action that will lay bare the rotten core of disinformation, years of stoking anger and rage for no good reason and craven politicians enabling it all. Surely, this was that proverbial last straw, that would lead the country back toward sanity and truth.
When even Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is telling his colleagues in a floor speech that things have gone too far and what’s happening is wrong (even though he was at the very least tacitly complicit in everything leading up to that terrible event), that indicates a major shift. For McConnell, other GOP politicians and the hypnotic sludge pumps at Fox News, it had all been fun and games until a mob came for Congress, planning to stop the count of electoral votes and kidnap or kill Vice President Mike Pence, along with any members of the House or Senate who might find themselves in the path of the unhinged throng.
Alas, such sentiments from the likes of McConnell were short-lived. (In some instances, really short lived). Later that night, a shameful number of Republicans, including Rep. Alex Mooney, R-W.Va., and Rep. Carol Miller, R-W.Va., voted against certifying the presidential election. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., and Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., along with a many other Republicans, found their spines, realizing things had, indeed, moved beyond the pale. They voted to certify the results, which had been challenged by every means of legal quackery available and still found to be correct.
McKinley, along with the likes of Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., and Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., have been demonized by their party for upholding their oaths to the country and for voting in favor of a commission to investigate the domestic terrorist attack on the Capitol.
Political differences have always produced certain loyalties, but, in this country’s past, when it became clear a line had been crossed, the opposition party has stepped up and done the right thing.
That’s not the country we live in anymore. That so many members of Congress could see what happened on Jan. 6, 2021, themselves having to take shelter for their own protection as democracy was under attack, and then try to pretend it didn’t happen, or that everyone should just get over it and move on is a new low in a steady continuance of dropping the bar.
There’s no negotiating the reality of what happened a year ago. It’s not a matter of perspective or perception. It was an attack, from within, on the most fundamental tenants of our system of government. It was a gaping wound to the fabric of our nation, and it has not healed, but has festered and become infected as shameless politicians and pundits, most of whom know better, continue to silently enable or actively push the lies of a disgraced president while whistling past the smoking crater they helped create.
Some of us don’t get over that kind of thing so easily. Don’t talk to us about inflation or supply chain issues when the last administration attempted a coup and continues to hold sway over a fervent base. We shouldn’t let this go until everyone, from those who encouraged and organized what happened, to those who enabled, to those who participated, are fully held to account.
A wound doesn’t heal by ignoring its existence. This country remains in peril until a good portion of its citizens and politicians come to terms with that fact. Sadly, it sure looks like many of them never will.