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Let the truth continue to emerge

On the evening of Jan. 6, 2021, stunned Americans who had watched the horrific, bloody assault on the U.S. Capitol by supporters of President Donald Trump breathed a sigh of relief. Vice President Mike Pence had certified the results of the Electoral College vote confirming that Joe Biden was the next president. Democracy had prevailed.

But that sense of relief was tempered by the knowledge that our democracy had been put to a test in ways that had seemed unimaginable. And now, a year later, we know that ostensible leaders who could have tried to heal the nation instead fueled the divisions tearing the nation apart and in many states passed anti-voter legislation to address the non-existent voter fraud that fueled Trump’s ongoing Big Lie about a stolen election. America’s democracy is in peril today every bit as much as it was on Jan. 6 of last year.

There can be no denying that Trump went before his assembled supporters on Jan. 6 and encouraged them to march on the Capitol and “fight.” Trump said he would be with them, but according to the House select committee investigating the insurrection he watched the riot on television for three hours while staffers and family members begged him to call it off. He eventually did so but his incitement of the riot and delay in appealing to his supporters to leave the building was a dereliction of duty, and in the words of Republican committee member Liz Cheney, should disqualify him from ever again serving in the White House.

We know now that there was a “war room” populated by the likes of Rudy Giuliani and Steve Bannon in a Washington hotel helping to orchestrate the events of Jan. 6. We know that this was the endgame of an elaborate political coup designed to end with Pence recognizing alternate sets of delegates in several swing states to steal the election and keep Trump in the White House. Between Election Day and Jan. 6 there were a string of failed attempts in the courts and legislatures in those swing states to overturn results based on Trump’s Big Lie.

In a floor speech shortly after the insurrection House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said Trump “bears responsibility” for the insurrection, but shortly thereafter he was in Mar-A-Lago seeking absolution. He had gotten the message and was now delivering the message that the Republican Party still belonged to a defeated and disgraced former president, and the job of GOP leaders was to rewrite history and obstruct investigations into Jan. 6, including what came before and what happened afterward.

The United States, long regarded as the world’s strongest democracy, is in danger of descending to the level of a banana republic. Congressional Democrats are working on a package of reforms to be included in voting rights legislation, but whatever passes will be difficult to enforce in states controlled by Republican governors and lawmakers who put partisan politics over electoral integrity.

What can and must happen is that the truth continue to emerge about the Jan. 6 insurrection and the events leading up to it. That is the responsibility of the House Select Committee and the journalistic community. It is then the responsibility of Americans - Democrats, Republicans and unenrolled - to study the facts, learn the truth, and go to the polls in 2022 and 2024 to protect and preserve our troubled democracy.

Bill Everhart is the former editorial page editor of The Berkshire Eagle and is an occasional Eagle contributor. 

The views expressed by commentators are solely those of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the views of this station or its management.

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