A Sorrowful Anniversary

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Today, January 6, 2022, is the first anniversary of the attack on and breaching of the U. S. Capitol Building, resulting in the deaths of five persons and a year’s worth of political rhetoric, the purpose of which is to continue to divide an already fractured nation.

I wrote my thoughts about January 6, 2021 a year ago, and you can read them here. Since then, Trump was impeached and acquitted by the Senate, it has become even more clear that the authorities knew that an attack on the Capitol was planned and did little to nothing to prevent it, and the Democrats and Republicans have bickered for the last year over every possible issue, big and small, exploiting every opportunity to continue the divisions that have wracked our country and have even led some to conclude that a civil war is imminent. I don’t think so, and I certainly hope not. I am more concerned that the outbreak in crime will get so bad that we’ll return to the Wild West and Chicago Gangland days of shootouts taking place on the streets of our cities between rival crime gangs, or between the criminals and police. Oh, waitwe’re already there!

Democrats, predictably, have described the January 6 attack as a threat to democracy and have repeatedly warned that democracy in the United States is in danger. It seems every time the Dems lose a major vote in Congress, or are defeated on Biden’s agenda, it’s interpreted as a threat to democracy. That’s pretty neat. Describe your party as the defenders of democracy and your political foes as opponents of democracy, even as your agenda is defeated by democratic means. This is especially true when it comes to Republican opposition to the Democrats voting rights agenda. Some of what the Dems want to do seems reasonable, such as restoring voting rights to felons who have served their sentence, and having independent panels draw lines for congressional districts as a defense against gerrymandering (provided the panels are genuinely independent). Other goals of the Democrats are not so good, such as doing away with or watering down voter ID requirements, ballot harvesting, or same day voter registration. In particular, the Democrat’s goal of nationalizing elections is unconstitutional. According to the Constitution, elections are controlled by the states, and it ought to stay that way.

The Republicans, predictably, have mostly stayed away from ceremonies marking the January 6 anniversary, lambasting the Democrats for politicizing the event (ie: exploiting it to push their voting rights agenda). Not sure how much more “politicized” an attack on one’s own Capitol Building could be than the attack itself! Incredibly, according to at least one poll, 29% of Republicans describe the attack on the Capitol as “not very violent or not violent at all.” It seems many Republicans want to claim that the January 6 attack was “mostly peaceful,” just like many Democrats claimed the riots and looting and murders of 2020 were “mostly peaceful.” I recall the line from the song, “The Music of the Night,” from the play Phantom of the Opera, where the phantom sings, “Close your eyes for your eyes will only tell the truth, and the truth isn’t what you want to see.” There have been a lot of people closing their eyes on both sides for a long time now.

I cannot recall the country being in such a state if disunion in my lifetime. I was too young to recall the politics of the sixties, so I won’t make any comparisons there. Even after Watergate, the consensus on both sides of the political aisle was that Nixon went too far and his misbehaviors needed to be addressed properly. When did these divisions begin? If I were going to mark a day, it would be when the House of Representatives, controlled by the Republicans, decided to impeach Bill Clinton for lying under oath and obstruction of justice. Now, Clinton did lie under oath, and it may be you could interpret his actions as obstructing justice. (As far as I’m concerned, if Congress were going to impeach Clinton, it ought to have been for his taking money from China). But the political cost of the impeachment was too much for the country to pay.

The next crisis was the election of 2000, when Gore won the popular vote, but Bush won the Electoral College, and the mess over which way Florida would fall had to be settled by the Supreme Court, and even there along partisan lines. The Democrats contested the election to no avail, and vindictiveness settled in. The lines between right and left, red and blue, conservative and liberal were becoming thicker. The final straw, I think, was the election of Donald Trump as president. This was too much for the controlling elites of both parties, but especially the Democrats and especially the media elites. The media were all in for Hillary Clinton, and when Trump was elected, they interpreted it as a rejection of their superior wisdom by the electorate. The Democrats, of course, couldn’t understand how Trump won, so they began from the first moment after the election to contrive a way to bring him down, and the Russian hoax was born, along with plans for impeachment (even before any high crimes and misdemeanors were committed).

Sadly, along with political rhetoric about how Republicans are attempting to suppress votes by insisting on voter ID laws and limiting drop boxes and ballot harvesting (even while Dem-controlled states do the same), I have to wonder if any presidential election will not be soiled with doubt and accusations of misconduct and election fraud. Will the other side ever again accept the results of an election in which their candidate loses?

The first year of Biden’s presidency has been a disaster, but at least he’s been able to serve as president without serious accusations about the credibility of his election from political foes in government. Most of those insisting that the election was rigged are private citizens. There’s no special prosecutor, like Robert Mueller, being assigned to investigate the election, and those investigations that have taken place on the state level have confirmed the absence of election fraud. There are no Congressional Republicans insisting that Biden was not legitimately elected, the way Adam Schiff and other Dems insisted about Trump (and Bush before him). Hillary Clinton called Trump an “illegitimate president,” and Trump has done the same for Biden. Sore losers!

As late as 2019, nearly half of Americans believed that Trump colluded with the Russians to help win the 2016 election, despite the results of Mueller’s report that saw no evidence of collusion, and that opinion was expressed on national television recently, without any serious pushback. In a poll from last August, two-thirds of Republicans still believe that the 2020 election was stolen. According to a November 2021 poll, 58% of Americans believe elections are fair. The headline describes this as a majority, and it is. But that means that fully 42% of Americans have questions about the fairness of elections. That’s huge! That’s a number that can be exploited by political machinations and manipulations with a goal of determining the outcome of an election. The hurt egos of Clinton and Trump do not represent a threat to democracy. But if a significant percentage of the people voting do not believe their votes count, that is a threat to democracy, because political manipulators can prevail upon people (and they will try) to persuade them there’s no use in voting, or that we can have no confidence in the outcome (at least if our side loses!). Worse, still, lack of confidence in our elections could inspire another January 6. My biggest fear regarding 2024 is not that the election will be rigged, but that the electorate will be divided by another showdown between Biden and Trump. Or, the Republicans will nominate someone other than Trump, and Trump will run third party, splitting the Republican vote to allow a Democrat victory. Given the Democrat agenda, and given the weakness of potential Democrat nominees (Biden, Harris, Buttegieg, Sanders), that’s not a happy scenario. Regardless of the results, however, the question remains: will the results be accepted by our political leaders and by the American people?

Our political leaders, or many of them at any rate, seem to have surrendered their primary responsibility of public service in favor of serving their own personal advantages and political ends. Unless there’s a significant shift in the way our political leaders, along with media elites, think and act, I don’t see how our too divided nation will move forward toward achieving progress for all. I’m not optimistic.

Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.

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