Jan. 6 hearings are must-watch TV. Don’t let coup succeed

On Thursday night, a House committee investigating the Jan. 6 coup attempt — let’s not mince words — began its public hearings on prime-time television.

In lurid detail and vivid video, the committee outlined the violent attempt to overturn the results of a free and fair election, the political sabotage committed in the name of lying President Trump, and the extent to which defectors and insurgents succeeded.

It will be a pleasant surprise if these hearings garner anything remotely close to the attention and fanfare bestowed on the sequel to Top Gun and its Hollywood brand of boisterous patriotism.

As the committee pointed out, January 6 was just part of a broader effort to undermine our electoral process, which continues as Trump acolytes seek office across the country and seize control of his electoral machine ahead of the 2024 campaign .

Fools like pro soccer coach Jack Del Rio may call the events of January 6, 2001 a mere “dust gathering.” Actors like Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity, who long ago traded their integrity and credibility for money and ratings, can peddle their disgusting pro-Trump propaganda on Fox News.

It’s politicians like Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield and his running mate, Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana who must be held accountable.

McCarthy’s cowardly silence towards Trump – rightly blaming him for the January 6 events, then tail-tailing and rushing to Mar-a-Lago to seek forgiveness – has been thoroughly documented. Given his congressional district’s strong GOP bias, there’s virtually no chance he’ll lose his seat in November.

But it’s worth examining the political strategy behind McCarthy’s recklessness and the efforts he and other Republicans constantly pursue to shove the attempted coup into a memory hole.

It’s the same tactic used every time there’s a mass shooting and the gun control issue comes up again.

Unfortunately it seems to work.

The first step occurs during events or immediately after, when memories are fresh and the public impetus for action is strong. It is wrong, McCarthy and his ilk solemnly declare, to “politicize” things by acting in the moment or even discussing remedies.

The next step, after the time has passed, is to suggest that the events have become old news, are no longer relevant, or have been replaced by other, more pressing concerns.

“Will Nancy Pelosi hold a prime-time inflation hearing?” Scalise rhetorically asked the Speaker of the House of Representatives (D-San Francisco) at a press conference known in political parlance as the “pre-hearing” Thursday night’s hearing. “Will Nancy Pelosi hold a prime-time hearing on gas prices?”

For his part, McCarthy silly claimed that “everyone in the country [bore] some responsibility” for the events of January 6th.

Which means nobody does. And certainly not Trump.

This kind of delay and distraction illustrates why the country’s founders were skeptical about political parties. Their concern was that elected officials would give up the greater good in the name of loyalty to their respective factions.

And they have.

Unfortunately, the stall tactic appears to be working as the calendar turns and memories of January 6, 2021 grow murkier.

In an NBC poll conducted in the days that followed, 52% of respondents said Trump was either solely or primarily responsible for the attack on the Capitol. In a recent follow-up, that number dropped to 45%.

That is why the hearings, which began Thursday and will continue next week, are so important and deserve to be widely followed and deepened.

Entertainment has its place, and escapism is understandable when the world seems to close in like four walls around us.

It’s not selfish or negligent to worry about the rising price of a gallon of gas, the country’s shortage of baby food, a lack of affordable housing, or getting around town without a bang on the head or worse.

But these everyday concerns should not preempt our attention when there is an ongoing and active attempt to topple the very pillars that support our democracy.

At times like these, Benjamin Franklin is reliably subpoenaed for his enduring quote about the fragility of our self-government.

While the origin of his words – “a republic if you can keep it” – is debated, the underlying sentiment is not.

Upholding our political system and its underlying freedoms requires constant vigilance, informed engagement, and ceaseless public participation.

In short, it’s work, and we’re doing a lousy job.

An election was held in California on Tuesday and less than one in three eligible voters bothered to vote.

Staying current is the minimum investment we need to make as citizens. Holding our elected leaders to account is vital. Voting is the way to do it.

We evade this responsibility at our own risk. Jan. 6 hearings are must-watch TV. Don’t let coup succeed

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