You’re not the first person who was ever confused and frightened and even sickened by human behavior. You’re by no means alone on that score. Many, many men have been just as troubled morally and spiritually as you are right now. Happily, some of them kept records of their troubles. You’ll learn from them—if you want to. Just as someday, if you have something to offer, someone will learn something from you. It’s a beautiful reciprocal arrangement. And it isn’t education. It’s history. It’s poetry.
~J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye
I came across this quote today and have been thinking about it as the House Select Committee investigating the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, held its ninth — and possibly final — hearing on its investigation.
I am fascinated by the state of affairs in our nation, the division, the lies, the psychopathic behavior of former leaders. For the record, I want it written that I stand for truth, order, justice and accountability.
I agree with what reporter Dan Rather wrote today about the hearings:
Breaking The Republic
January 6 wasn’t an accident
“That, my fellow citizens, breaks the republic.”
This was the chilling conclusion of Liz Cheney today at the January 6 hearings over what would have happened if the guardrails of our democracy, exposed for their frailty in 2020, had buckled to an autocrat determined to hold onto power. And the danger remains. “Without accountability, it all becomes normal, and it will recur,” Cheney warned.
Cheney’s statement is striking in its simplicity and its power. Her audience is her “fellow citizens,” the ones who will be going to the polls in less than a month to decide who should lead this nation going forward. Her fellow Republicans have cast Cheney as a pariah for having the courage to state the truth: that their leader wanted to destroy America as we know it.
What the committee presented today shed a spotlight on the authorship of this historic tragedy. It is Trump who is the playwright, conjuring and casting the roles of those who would act out his destructive intentions. It was he who dreamt up and directed a frontal attack on American democracy. But he couldn’t have done it without his willing accomplices.
Today, we saw footage of members of Congress grappling in real time with a deteriorating situation on January 6 that could have ended with more bloodshed and the decimation of governmental order. We could feel a visceral fear in their actions and words, not only for their own personal safety but for the safety of the nation they had sworn an oath to serve. Those who could have intervened, starting with the president but including his top aides inside the White House, were absent. And that is just as the president wanted it. We heard today evidence that Trump knew he had lost, and he didn’t care what it would take to retain power.
This man who shamelessly pounds his chest with protestations of patriotism, who literally wraps himself in the American flag, who demonizes his political opponents as haters of America is really the one who views our imperfect experiment in self-governance with disgust. Elections. The rule of law. Peaceful transfers of power. The will of the people. These are the pillars of our nation’s foundation. But for Trump, that’s all just for suckers. He had the presidency, and he didn’t plan on relinquishing it, no matter what the voters or the Constitution said.
January 6 wasn’t an accident. It wasn’t a rally that spun out of control. It was a dangerous and violent storm threatening our nation’s core principles and our whole system of representative democracy. Stop and ponder that. Then remember that it should have been no surprise. The committee has made clear that the plan had been on the radar for weeks. There was plenty of evidence in advance that Trump and his cronies were planning to disregard the verdict of the election if it went against him.
But details and evidence uncovered since have been stunning, including documentary footage of longtime Trump loyalist Roger Stone played today. Here is what Stone had to say even before Election Day (excuse the language, please): “I say f**k the voting, let’s get right to the violence.” Was what we saw on January 6 a Plan B, or really a Plan A?
One of the great attributes of this committee is expert storytelling, laying out, with gripping detail, a narrative — a true story — about the attempted destruction of our democratic order. They have carefully traced the origins of this horror to before the election. They have shown the rising danger and threats of violence. They have identified villainy, led by the president. They have explained with breathtaking intimacy what took place on January 6. And they have made very clear that that day’s actions, while dramatic, were not a denouement. How this story ends is currently unknowable. We will have a better sense after the midterm elections and with the Department of Justice’s decision if, how, and whom to prosecute.
There is a lot about what we heard today, and in the previous hearings, that is infuriating. It also is hard not to feel a deep sadness about the precariousness of our democracy. But we can find hope in the service of this committee. They are saying to all of us, “This happened. Let us not let it happen again. And let us hold those responsible, accountable.”
They believe that most Americans cherish our self-governance, our stability, and our rule of law. They believe that if we know the truth, that we will do everything in our power, as a people, as a nation, to protect against its recurrence.
Does that belief still hold? Or are we now so divided that we can no longer be sure? This is the overriding question as our beloved America evolves in the first quarter of the 21st century.
When all the facts, instead of legal meanderings, come out, for me, it may well be said that the attack on our republic happened long before Jan 6. In the last 10 or so verses in of Words of Mormon, could it be said of King Benjamin, that his fight for right was a threat on their government? Do we ready Mosiah 1-5 and forget the King Benjamin described Words of Mormon? How about Captain Moroni, who instead of hand wringing, called together patriots as he traveled to the center of the country and upset the “normal order of things” according to the kingmen? And what did those kingmen say in their newsfeeds? Was Captain Moroni, a threat to their republic according to them? The tale of time informed us that he was not. The full tale of Jan 6 hasn’t played out, has it? While not a direct comparison person for person, how can we really pass judgment when only one side of the story was told in these hearings? How irresponsible is that in our day? We do well to withhold judgment when its was obvious that both sides didn’t have a chance to compete for our opinions. That is what is sad and for me, and dangerous… our willingness to let confirmation and personality bias rule and claim those biases are honoring the rule of law. So quick to judge with only once side of the story. So quick not to reveal the source of those biases. Like black economist Thomas Sowell wrote in his book, Conflict of Visions, there are two ideas, the constrained vision and the unconstrained vision. The constrained vision would say, let justice play out, even if it takes a long time and both sides are given a fair voice. I will constrain my views until then. The unconstrained vision would say “I have already made up my mind, and am willing to sacrifice principals like “innocent until proven guilty” and/or “The right to confront your accusers” a right guaranteed in the Confrontation Clause of the Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution because I want an outcome so badly, I will sacrifice principle and time proven principals to get it. I appreciate your opinion. For me, with all due respect, I wonder how you and others arrived at it, when so many guarantees in our constitution were violated to get there. That sounds pretty much like the unconstrained vision to me. A lack of willingness to be constrained by the very rule of law that was claimed to have been violated. If time proves Jan 6 right, I am happy to go along. So far, we don’t have either time or fair representation of both sides. The opinion of Dan Rather says more about him, than about the incident. I am not famous like him. But his fame doesn’t substantiate his opinion for me. Let’s let time tell the story, as to who is fighting for the rights guaranteed and who is fighting for power. This same people who made up this committee are the same people who say over and over again in different ways and various policies, “Just give us your agency and we will guarantee a positive outcome. After all, you are too naive to know what is good for you like we do.”