Tuesday, June 07, 2022


Remember the video?

It was played during Donald Trump's second impeachment trial, and it was supposed to Change Everything. Politico called it "shocking," and quoted Mitt Romney saying, "It tears at your heart and brings tears to your eyes." Mashable described it as "The 13-minute video that won't let you forget what happened on January 6." Time said that watching the video "should be mandatory."

It didn't matter. Trump was acquitted, and he emerged as the likely 2024 Repubican presidential nominee, and quite possibly the next president of the United States.

The video and the impeachment trial changed nothing. Why do we think the upcoming January 6 hearings will have a different impact?

But Democrats believe that. The hearings are where they're putting all their chips.
... House Democrats plan to use a landmark set of investigative hearings beginning this week to try to refocus voters’ attention on Jan. 6, aiming to tie Republicans directly to an unprecedented plot to undermine democracy itself.

With their control of Congress hanging in the balance, Democrats plan to use made-for-television moments and a carefully choreographed rollout of revelations over the course of six hearings to remind the public of the magnitude of Mr. Trump’s effort to overturn the election, and to persuade voters that the coming midterm elections are a chance to hold Republicans accountable for it.

It is an uphill battle at a time when polls show that voters’ attention is focused elsewhere, including on inflation, rising coronavirus cases and record-high gas prices. But Democrats argue the hearings will give them a platform for making a broader case about why they deserve to stay in power.
It was an uphill battle even in early 2021, when January 6 was fresh in people's minds. If you weren't a participant or an enthusiast, January 6 was a bad thing that happened on one day. It was over in a few hours. People died, but the election results were ratified. Participants have been arrested and jailed. We've had elections since then and they've seemed to go smoothly. The majority of Americans aren't intensely focused on politics, so of course it's hard to sell them on the notion that democracy is in peril.
[Democrats'] task is to persuade voters that the Jan. 6 attack revealed bigger and more important issues at stake, including the Republican Party’s alignment with violent extremists and its decision to make adherence to the “big lie” that the 2020 election was stolen a test of membership.
If they're going to try to link January 6 to "bigger and more important issues," why not link it to issues that are in the news now? January 6 was a violent assault backed by a party that largely believes mass shootings and other forms of day-to-day violence are just something we have to learn to live with so cosplaying suburbanites can continue to buy multiple AR-15s with minimal fuss. The people who tried to impose their losing presidential candidate on us are also trying to impose abortion bans, book bans, and mandatory genital inspections of school-age athletes on us.

But Democrats refuse to say that Republicans are bad. They don't have a grand unified theory of Republican authoritarianism -- to the contrary, they like Republicans, or at least they would like Republicans if they'd just drop that Trump guy and his silly Big Lie. Democrats won't make the case that what you saw in the aftermath of the 2020 election is linked to how Republicans want to treat Americans in their day-to-day lives -- how they are treating Americans right now, using the power they have in red states, as well as nationally as a result of their control of the Supreme Court. All they'll say is: Republicans tried to steal the last presidential election and they'll try to steal the next one. That's true. But you can't blame people for not understanding how that matters to them when the last presidential election ultimately worked out and the next presidential election is two years away. And you certainly can't blame them for believing that Republicans can still be trusted with power when Democrats regularly agree that they can.

I'd love to be wrong about all this. I'd love to believe that these hearings will matter. We'll see.

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