WATERTOWN – Lies told by Republicans about Donald Trump’s supporters attempt to overthrow the U.S. government on January 6, 2021 have increased dramatically over the past year.
One of the strangest claims came from US Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Schuylerville. At a press conference in July, she parroted the GOP’s fabrication that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi bears responsibility for the fact that the U.S. Capitol is so vulnerable during the insurgency.
News organizations have debunked this false claim. But undeterred by reality, Stefanik repeated this lie on Wednesday, on the eve of the first anniversary of the failed coup.
She conveniently failed to blame the attack on Trump, which stoked violent radicals with her lies about a rigged election. She also seemed to forget that Trump sat on her hands for several hours as rioters ransacked the Capitol, assaulted police officers and searched for officials to have them captured or murdered.
Imagine that! A sitting president does absolutely nothing as the seat of government is under siege in an attempt to overthrow the will of American voters – and Stefanik ignores it when he points the finger.
Trump’s refusal to do anything to stop the violence when it began on January 6 is more disgusting given that this act of domestic terrorism was carried out in his name. If his behavior doesn’t qualify as treason, I don’t know what it is.
But don’t ask GOP members to recognize it. They want to perpetuate the fantasy that Trump defeated Joe Biden in 2020 and that opponents of the former president caused the January 6 parody.
I thought it was the feast of personal responsibility! I thought it was the party of law and order!
Why have so many Republicans given up on any sense of honor? Is gaining power for themselves so alluring that they will repeatedly deny indisputable truths while destroying our democratic process?
Stefanik has taken full advantage of the slavish devotion many Republicans have towards Trump as he strives to oust U.S. Representative Liz Cheney, R-Wyo, as chair of the House Republican Conference last spring. Cheney refused to perpetuate the myths about Trump; she sees him as he really is and is not afraid to say what she thinks.
But Stefanik happily took part in the masquerade, and the Republicans rewarded her for it. Thus, the GOP leadership and many party members based their loyalty not on a commitment to facts, but pure inventions.
One of the lies that so many Trump supporters tell is that what happened on January 6 was not an insurgency. The Merrian-Webster dictionary defines this as a “violent attempt to take control of a government”.
Members of Congress validated the results of the 2020 election. Rioters used violence and the threat of violence to thwart proceedings and appoint their own president.
How does January 6 not fall into the category of an insurrection? That the frenzied crowd did not succeed is irrelevant. The aim of those who participated in the attack was to derail the ongoing legal process and impose their will on the nation.
In other words: it was an insurrection, a coup d’etat, an act of internal terrorism. This resulted in the deaths of some of the rioters as well as several police officers, some of them by suicide. More than 140 officers were injured, many seriously.
Worse yet, it was an attack on the way we practice democracy. We maintain the dynamism of our constitutional republic by allowing eligible citizens to vote in elections conducted fairly and freely. Part of the deal is that we live with the results, even if we oppose them.
But fueled by lies from Trump and other GOP figures such as Stefanik, the radical thugs decided to ignore this protocol – as well as the rule of law – and tried to overturn the election results. No evidence was produced showing that widespread fraud influenced the election in any way. January 6 is a stain on American democracy that will last forever.
People who suggest otherwise are lying or deluding themselves. And having exposed ourselves as individuals who refuse to accept reality, we must see them as part of the problem. We cannot adequately address our concerns as a nation if the leaders of a major political party continue on the destructive path of lies rather than embrace the truth.
Jerry Moore is the editor of the Watertown Daily Times editorial page. Readers can call him at 315-661-2369 or send emails to email@example.com. They can also follow him on Twitter: @WDT_OpEd.