Today, January 6, 2022, marks the first anniversary of the massive physical assault on the nation’s Capitol that threatened to overthrow the democratic institutions of our republic at the instigation of then-sitting president Donald Trump. Even now, just one year later, the very notion that this thug, this criminal sociopath had actually held the position of President of the United States seems eerily surrealistic and uncanny to many, myself included. It was like a four-year hiatus of unreality, viewed from hindsight, even as we picked through it day by day for an incredible four full years.
Even as it began to look like there was an end in sight, that Trump would not win re-election, there were those who warned us that he would not go easily, that he would break whatever rules might be in his way to stay in office. I can remember how such a troubling prediction at once filled me with dread, and at the same time felt so true. Yes, it was HBO commentator Bill Maher, among others I recalled then, who kept insisting on this, and it was a claim that proved right.
Now, we are getting to see a picture of the inside of this coup attempt as the select Congressional committee presses ahead in its investigation, making key findings public that draw a line of infamy directly to Trump. Suddenly, what was beginning to fade into bad memories has been revived in the immediacy of what transpired on January 6, 2021. Even those of us watching it all on live TV did not realize the extent of the insurrection, for there were not enough angles to be shown to capture the real essence of what was happening.
I simply remember that when order was restored and the recording of the Electoral College vote was resumed, duly establishing the lawful election of Joe Biden as the new president, that I became truly emotional, tears rolling down my cheeks as I watched. And I didn’t even know how close the nation, how close democracy, had come to being overturned that very day.
As Sen. Jamie Raskin revealed in an interview with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow on the eve of this anniversary, he had been part of a team of Democratic lawmakers that had been tasked to evaluate every possible way that Trump and his cronies might try to legally prevent the transfer of power to Biden. They thought they had anticipated every possible avenue, but they didn’t count on the crass use of force and violence, the overthrow of the rule of law, altogether.
Indeed, it came down to the fact that on an individual level, there were enough citizens at the scene, engaged in pitched battles, whose strength became steeled in the heat of the violence such that they refused to allow the insurrection to succeed. They met the onslaught with an almost superhuman resolve so the coordinated physical assault on the Capitol failed despite being outmanned by cadres of insurrectionists who had laid out their plans and anticipated success.
Yes, we came as a nation far closer to losing our democracy that day than we may ever come to fully appreciate.
And yes, the coup is not over. Trump and his minions are actively engaged in plotting and carrying out their next steps. It is going to take a national mobilization as committed to protecting our democracy, and the rights of every citizen provided by it, as those who fought on that day a year ago to hold their ground against the lawless and cruel insurgency that easily could have resulted in the loss of life of numerous lawmakers as well as Vice President Pence.
Every bit as impassioned as the millions of Americans were who took to the streets to demonstrate against the election of Trump in January 2017, who mobilized over those four surreal years to boot him out and put Democrats in control of Congress, we the people are going to have to rise up again in 2022 to hold this fascist movement at bay once again.
We must not allow flaccid disappointments of Congressional entropy to deter us. We fight for the future of democracy.