Opinions, Column

Did we forget about Jan. 6?

We are only a few days away from the midterm elections, and many organizations like Politico and 538 are predicting the House will go to the GOP with the Senate being a toss-up. It would not be surprising for the party in the White House to lose seats in the midterm elections—that is, if it weren’t for the opposing party’s attempted insurrection against the peaceful transfer of power. And by the opposing party, I do mean the GOP as a whole. The events of spring and summer 2022 have shown that—far from denouncing and removing themselves from the insurrectionist and its movement—the GOP has instead entrenched itself in insurrection apologetics.

One need only look at the GOP primaries over the year and see that the House members who have taken a stance against election denialism and the insurrection have been chased out of their party. Of the 10 house Republicans who voted for former President Donald Trump’s second impeachment, only two of them have managed to make it to the general election. Liz Cheney, who has spearheaded the Jan. 6 investigation committee, lost her primary to the Trump-endorsed Harriet Hageman. House GOP members Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor-Greene (who won their primaries handily) doubled down on defending the insurrectionists in the one-year anniversary of the insurrection. In Pennsylvania, Doug Mastriano won the GOP primary. Mastriano rose to prominence thanks to his efforts to overturn the election results in Pennsylvania and was physically present at the Jan. 6th insurrection. In state-level elections, some 25 other insurrectionists are running for office across the country (those who have not yet been convicted that is). Insurrectionists and their apologists are on the ballot this year, while those who opposed them have been kicked out.

These examples are not outliers—they cannot be, because they have all received institutional support from the GOP. State-level candidates have received financial support for their campaigns—indicating, if nothing else, a tacit approval of these candidates’ positions and actions. More than that, the Republican National Committee called the Jan. 6 insurrection “legitimate discourse” after censuring Cheney for participating in the event’s investigation committee (though they clarified the legitimate discourse did not apply to those who actually physically stormed into the Capitol building, just those outside of it). This is all to say that the GOP is playing both sides here—both pro-coup and anti-coup—in an attempt to placate its base while luring in moderate voters. You cannot separate the protest from the insurrection when said protestors bring literal gallows and come armed to the protest. The protesters came there with a violent message and acted on this violent message. This is a tactic the GOP candidates have been playing across the nation, with Tudor Dixon of Michigan and Blake Masters of Arizona both vacillating between saying the 2020 presidential election was rigged and just “manipulated.” 

Then there is the man at the center of it all: Trump. Over the course of the primaries he has routinely given endorsements to those who would support his claims of election denial. Many of these candidates (with the notable exception of David Perdue of Georgia) have won their primaries, cementing Trump’s position in the party as its spiritual leader. Coupled with his promise to pardon and apologize to the insurrectionists, he shows a willingness to look past the actions of a violent mob and the attack on democracy that it was. And as Donald Trump has reaffirmed his authority over the GOP with his candidates winning primaries and possible general elections, his platform is now the platform of the party. There can be no separating the two anymore.

Thus I return to where I began this article. The GOP, the so-called party of “law and order,” has become the party of insurrection. The party’s actions and words have all but shown its willingness to look away from political violence. A failure to condemn the insurrection is an invitation for more violence to continue. Look at the recent attack on Paul Pelosi and the response by conservative candidates, politicians, and media. They would condemn the violence before immediately jumping into making excuses, conspiracy theories or jokes about the incident. The GOP, by failing to condemn the violence of Jan. 6 has created an atmosphere of political violence that has directly led to this. And if more right-wing violence happens in this country, a tightly-knit Republican party led by Trump would defend the violence. To those who are undecided about who to vote for, or have never voted before, I implore you to vote on Nov. 8.

November 6, 2022