Coming to Grips With the Insurrection

As we begin 2022, we’re not lacking for challenges. There’s the pandemic, climate change, economic turbulence, and political instability. A year after January 6, 2021, I had hoped that some of these challenges would disappear. That the United States would acquire “herd immunity” and the threat of coronavirus would recede. That Republicans would accept that Joe Biden was lawfully elected President and those responsible for the January 6th insurrection were traitorous criminals. Sadly all of these challenges continue.

On January 6th, 2022, Joe Biden spoke (https://www.npr.org/2022/01/06/1070931178/jan-6-anniversary-biden-speech-transcript ) in the Capitol rotunda and condemned those responsible for the insurrection, particularly former President Trump.  “One year ago today, in this secured place, Democracy was attacked… For the first time in our history, a president had not just lost an election, he tried to prevent the peaceful transfer of power as a violent mob breached the Capitol… this [was] an armed insurrection.”

Biden’s speech signified a change in Democratic strategy.  Heretofore, Biden had attempted to ignore Trump; the former President had been “he who shall not be named.”  Since January 20th, the White House seemed to take the position: if we don’t talk about Trump, he will go away.  That hasn’t happened; Trump hasn’t gone away. He’s maintained his iron grip around the neck of the Republican Party.  However, over the past year, Trump’s popularity has waned; according to the latest 538 poll summary (https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/trump-approval-ratings/ ) Trump’s approval rating has declined to 38.6 percent — outside the Republican Party, Trump’s brand has turned toxic.

Biden, and the Democratic Party, have decided to make the 2022 election about Trump and the insurrection.  They are going to label Republicans as Trump’s toadies, willing accomplices in the insurrection.  “Republicans don’t want to move forward; they are stuck on overthrowing the lawful of election of November 3, 2020.  Republicans favor autocracy over democracy…”

In his forceful speech, President Biden made four points.  The first: “the former president of the United States of America has created and spread a web of lies about the 2020 election… he can’t accept he lost… Defeated by a margin of over seven million of your votes.”

The second point: “The Big Lie being told by the former president, and many Republicans who fear his wrath, is that the insurrection in this country actually took place on Election Day, November 3, 2020.” “There is simply zero proof the election results are inaccurate. In fact, in every venue where evidence had to be produced and oath to tell the truth had to be taken, the former president failed to make his case.  Just think about this, the former president and his supporters have never been able to explain how they accept as accurate the other election results that took place on November 3rd. The elections for governor. United States Senate. House of Representatives.”

Biden’s third point: “The [next] Big Lie being told by the former president’s supporters is that the results of the election 2020 can’t be trusted.” “Right now in state after state, new laws are being written [by Republicans]. Not to protect the vote, but to deny it. Not only to suppress the vote, but to subvert it, not to strengthen or protect our democracy, but because the former president lost. Instead of looking at election results from 2020 and saying they need new ideas or better ideas to win more votes, the former president and his supporters have decided the only way for them to win is to suppress your vote and subvert our elections.”

The fourth point: ” The [final] Big Lie being told by a former president and supporters is that the mob who sought to impose their will through violence are the nation’s true patriots. Is that what you thought when you looked at the mob ransacking the Capitol, destroying property, literally defecating in the hallways?… You can’t love your country only when you win. You can’t obey the law only when it’s convenient. You can’t be patriotic when you embrace and enable lies.”

Joe Biden ended on a strong note: “Now it’s up to all of us — to We the People — to stand for the rule of law, to preserve the flame of democracy, to keep the promise of America alive… Make no mistake about it, we’re living at an inflection point in history, both at home and abroad. We’re engaged anew in a struggle between democracy and autocracy,”  The President concluded: ” I will defend this nation, and I will allow no one to place a dagger at the throat of democracy.”

President Biden has taken off his gloves and taken the attack to Donald Trump and the Republican Party.  Biden has decided to make the 2022 election about Trump and the insurrection.  In every Senate and House race, Democrats will tie the Republican candidate to Trump and the insurrection.

In the next couple of weeks, Senate Democrats will try to pass voting-rights legislation.  They will force Republicans to take a visible stance on this and use their — expected — resistance as a 2022 election issue.

The good news is that President Biden, and congressional Democrats, are addressing the challenge of political instability.